Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton

My friend and I were fascinated by Bethany Hamilton’s story when we were in high school. She even had a poster of Bethany on her wall. So naturally, when we heard about the movie coming out and realized she had written a book we had to see and read them immediately.

For those who don’t know it, Bethany Hamilton was a thirteen year old surfer from Hawaii who was attacked by a shark and lost her arm. Most people would have given up surfing at this point because having only one arm to paddle with is a major disadvantage in competition. But with a supportive family, community, and even world and her strong faith, she came back strong and is now a top ranking pro-surfer. Since the movie, the book has been updated to include her time on the movie set which is a fun addition if you watched the movie.

The book was written when she was only fourteen, a year after the attack. Her youth shows as the book does not really go in depth into the emotions and struggles she experienced. Much of the hard stuff–like how she adjusted to things like preparing food with one hand and competing with one arm–was glossed over. (The movie shows this poignantly.) Despite this obvious lack, the story is still inspirational. Her strength and resiliency (whether you care about faith and religion or not) is impressive and you cannot help but be touched by her story.

One thing I was slightly disappointed to note was that the cover (a shot taken from the movie) does not show her surfing with one arm. I am not surprised with this decision, but at the same time, it is as though they feel the need to hide it for fear that showing someone with only one arm will scare off consumers. What makes Bethany inspirational is that she doesn’t hide her injury (she doesn’t wear a prosthetic and she has never let one arm hold her back) and it seems like the publishers should have highlighted rather than hidden this on the cover.


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