When the jaws of the tiger shark ripped off her left arm, thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton didn't even scream. All she could think about was, "Get to the beach. Get to the beach." Strengthened by her intense faith in God, Bethany paddled the quarter mile to shore, praying that the shark would not return to finish the job. Alana Blanchard, her best friend, and Alana's father, Boyd, who had been surfing with Bethany that Halloween morning, immediately called 9-1-1 and applied first aid as best as they could. Although she would lose half her blood volume and lose her left arm up to the armpit, Bethany Hamilton never lost her faith or her will to fight. It's no wonder she was given the 2004 ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete!
"Being tight with God is more important to me than surfing."
"There's no such thing as a handicap - it's all in your head." - Bethany Hamilton (p. 183)
Bethany tells her story in words that are honest, heartfelt, and very easy to read. She not only shares insight about the horrifying shark attack, but about ordinary things about her life as well, from her childhood growing up in Hawaii (she starting surfing at age 7) to the reason why she is so competitive (trying to keep up with her two older brothers, Noah and Timmy) to what she likes to do besides surfing (listening to Christian music and playing practical jokes). The book also features tons of color photos that show Bethany before and after her accident. The most amazing part of her story is how she overcame her fear and returned to competitive surfing after being attacked.
- Bethany Hamilton (p. 134
At first Bethany was reluctant to tell her story to the world. But she believed that the shark attack happened so she could be an inspiration to others to overcome obstacles in their lives as she did. Through it all she credits the support from her family, her big ohana
of friends in the close-knit community on the small island of Kauai, Hawaii, and most importantly her belief in God. Soul Surfer
, which made the New York Times Bestseller list, is an amazing autobiography that I recommend people of all ages to read and be inspired. You can find out more about Bethany on her website (see link below).
For another YA book about courage, try Hatchet
by Gary Paulsen (see link below).