Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board
Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

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Annotation: Autobiography of aspiring professional surfer Bethany Hamilton after losing an arm in a shark attack.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #10091
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition Date: 2004
Pages: xvii, 222 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-416-50346-3 Perma-Bound: 0-605-09649-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-416-50346-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-09649-3
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2004295393
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Readers may not recall the name Bethany Hamilton, but after a glance at the cover photo, they'll recognize her as the girl who lost her arm to a shark while surfing. Hamilton tells her own story, though in many places the narrative sounds more like it's from an adult's perspective--perhaps from an adult coauthor. It begins with the moment a giant white shark chomps off her arm. She then goes back to discuss the events leading up to the attack and to describe what her life was like before the tragedy--home-schooling in a strong Christian household and lots of competitive surfing. Hamilton's account is suffused with her feelings for God and His impact in her life. Perhaps because of this relationship, she never seems depressed about her situation; in fact, she is surfing again. The inset of color photos offers further insight into Hamilton's life. Although this may quickly date, it has automatic appeal for a wide range of readers.
Publishers Weekly

Hamilton, a 14-year-old aspiring professional surfer from Kauai, Hawaii, made headlines last fall after she lost her arm in a shark attack. With the help of writer Berk and Bundschuh, a pastor whom the teen calls her "spiritual advisor," the teen offers an upbeat and candid—if somewhat meandering—chronicle of her life. She opens with the shark attack, then fills in details before and after this tragic incident, giving priority to the topics pinpointed in the book's subtitle. Her fervent faith surfaces often in her account: her church youth group figures prominently in her life, she prays before each surfing competition, she states that "Being tight with God is even more important to me than surfing" and, in discussing "God's plan" for her, states, "if I can help other people find hope in God, then that is worth losing my arm for." Hamilton offers copious background information about her close-knit family and her passion for surfing, as well as expressions of gratitude for the post-attack outpouring of support and donations from friends and strangers. Despite her narrative's sometimes overly zealous inspirational overtones, Hamilton's optimism, determination and resilience (she climbed back on her surfboard within a month of the attack) are undeniably impressive and uplifting and may well reassure teens dealing with distressing or life-altering events. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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Publishers Weekly
Word Count: 30,303
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.0 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 86352 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:7.5 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q39907
Lexile: 960L
Foreword

To be honest, I never wanted to write a book.

It actually took a lot of convincing by my family and friends, because I'm not someone who likes to talk a lot about myself, or thinks I'm any big deal. But they saw something in my story that would be helpful and interesting to others -- and they encouraged me to write it down. So here I am. And actually, when I really thought about it, it seemed like something that I should do. It would give a bigger picture of my faith, my family, and all those people who have helped get me back into the water again. But I'll tell you one thing: it wasn't easy.

It took a lot of people to help me put my thoughts on paper. First, there was Rick Bundschuh, my spiritual advisor and a pastor in the Kauai Christian Fellowship Church. There were certain things I just didn't want to talk about -- certainly not to a stranger. So Rick volunteered to do the "translating." We would sit for hours and just talk, talk, talk. I'd pour my heart out, and he'd patiently listen, putting it all down on paper. Then came our writer, Sheryl Berk, who helped me organize and shape all these thoughts into fifteen chapters (who knew I had 200-plus pages in me?). When you're really close to something, it's hard to see things as they truly were or are. So Sheryl, along with my editor, Lauren McKenna, helped me connect the dots. They asked the toughest questions! Stuff that really made me squirm sometimes, but also, in the end, made me dig a little deeper and really be honest with myself and you. In the end, I'm really proud of what we've written here. I think it's truthful, and I hope it inspires and motivates people to tackle any obstacles in their lives. I hope it helps people find faith in God and in their own strength and ability. I hope it motivates someone going through a tough time right now to keep on fighting until they rise above it. You can and will get through it. I'm living proof that where there's a will, there's a way.

What I don't want is for people to pity me or think of me as a person who has had her life ruined. That's not how I see it. My mom is always saying, "If life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Which is a great outlook on life, if you can actually see beyond the lemons when you're up to your eyeballs in them! My strength came from my relationship with Christ and from the love and encouragement of my family and friends.

In a lot of ways I'm like any fourteen-year-old girl, and in a lot of ways, I'm not. If someone had told me that this is how my life would be, I would have never believed it. It would have seemed too bizarre to be true. Sometimes it still is. I often dream that I have both my arms again, and I wake up expecting the whole shark business to be a nightmare. But it's not. It's my reality now, and I've learned to accept it. I've moved on.

I don't pretend to have all the answers to why bad things happen to good people. But I do know that God knows all those answers, and sometimes He lets you know in this life, and sometimes He asks you to wait so that you can have a face-to-face talk about it. What I do know is that I want to use what happened to me as an opportunity to tell people that God is worthy of our trust, and to show them that you can go on and do wonderful things in spite of terrible events that happen. I don't think it does any good to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. I made myself a promise: I'm not going to wallow or walk around moaning, "Woe is me!"

One other thing you should know: this book really doesn't have an ending yet because I am still learning how to cope every day. I'm not talking about learning how to button my top with one hand. I'm talking about coping with being a celebrity, something I never imagined that I would have to deal with at the age of fourteen. Or coping with people's stares, either because they recognize me, or because they are not used to seeing a person with one arm running down the beach. Or coping with answering endless questions from the media and seeing my face in newspapers and magazines. I'm also learning to cope with the frustration of knowing that if I had both arms to paddle, I just might have done a little better in a surf contest that I have just been in.

I am excited about some of the opportunities to travel and surf all around the world that have come as a result of my attack and return to surfing. But most of all I am excited about what the future holds. Will I make it to the pro ranks in surfing? Will my lifelong friend and surf buddy, Alana, be paddling next to me in the years to come as she is now and was during the attack? Will I be able to make a difference, in some small way, in people's lives by sharing my story?

What does God have in store for me? I really don't know, but I do know one thing for sure: the adventure has only started.

Copyright © 2004 by Bethany Hamilton

Foreword

To be honest, I never wanted to write a book.

It actually took a lot of convincing by my family and friends, because I'm not someone who likes to talk a lot about myself, or thinks I'm any big deal. But they saw something in my story that would be helpful and interesting to others -- and they encouraged me to write it down. So here I am! And actually, when Ireallythought about it, it seemed like something that I should do. It would give a bigger picture of my faith, my family, and all those people who have helped get me back into the water again. But I'll tell you one thing: it wasn't easy.

It took a lot of people to help me put my thoughts on paper. First, there was Rick Bundschuh, my spiritual advisor and a pastor in the Kauai Christian Fellowship Church. There were certain things I just didn't want to talk about -- certainly not to a stranger. So Rick volunteered to do the "translating." We would sit for hours and just talk, talk, talk. I'd pour my heart out, and he'd patiently listen, putting it all down on paper. Then came our writer, Sheryl Berk, who helped me organize and shape all these thoughts into fifteen chapters (who knew I had 200-plus pages in me?). When you're really close to something, it's hard to see things as they truly were or are. So Sheryl, along with my editor, Lauren McKenna, helped me connect the dots. They asked the toughest questions! Stuff that really made me squirm sometimes, but also, in the end, made me dig a little deeper and really be honest with myself and you. In the end, I'm really proud of what we've written here. I think it's truthful, and I hope it inspires and motivates people to tackle any obstacles in their lives. I hope it helps people find faith in God and in their own strength and ability. I hope it motivates someone going through a tough time right now to keep on fighting until they rise above it. You can and will get through it. I'm living proof that where there's a will, there's a way.

What I don't want is for people to pity me or think of me as a person who has had her life ruined. That's not how I see it. My mom is always saying, "If life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Which is a great outlook on life, if you can actually see beyond the lemons when you're up to your eyeballs in them! My strength came from my relationship with Christ and from the love and encouragement of my family and friends.

In a lot of ways I'm like any fourteen-year-old girl, and in a lot of ways, I'm not. If someone had told me that this is how my life would be, I would have never believed it. It would have seemed too bizarre to be true. Sometimes it still is. I often dream that I have both my arms again, and I wake up expecting the whole shark business to be a nightmare. But it's not. It's my reality now, and I've learned to accept it. I've moved on.

I don't pretend to have all the answers to why bad things happen to good people. But I do know that God knows all those answers, and sometimes He lets you know in this life, and sometimes He asks you to wait so that you can have a face-to-face talk about it. What I do know is that I want to use what happened to me as an opportunity to tell people that God is worthy of our trust, and to show them that you can go on and do wonderful things in spite of terrible events that happen. I don't think it does any good to sit around feeling sorry for yourself. I made myself a promise: I'm not going to wallow or walk around moaning, "Woe is me!"

One other thing you should know: this book really doesn't have an ending yet because I am still learning how to cope every day. I'm not talking about learning how to button my top with one hand. I'm talking about coping with being a celebrity, something I never imagined that I would have to deal with at the age of fourteen. Or coping with people's stares, either because they recognize me, or because they are not used to seeing a person with one arm running down the beach. Or coping with answering endless questions from the media and seeing my face in newspapers and magazines. I'm also learning to cope with the frustration of knowing that if I had both arms to paddle, I just might have done a little better in a surf contest that I have just been in.

I am excited about some of the opportunities to travel and surf all around the world that have come as a result of my attack and return to surfing. But most of all I am excited about what the future holds. Will I make it to the pro ranks in surfing? Will my lifelong friend and surf buddy, Alana, be paddling next to me in the years to come as she is now and was during the attack? Will I be able to make a difference, in some small way, in people's lives by sharing my story?

What does God have in store for me? I really don't know, but I do know one thing for sure: the adventure is only started.

Copyright © 2004 by Bethany Hamilton


Excerpted from Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton, Rick Bundschuh
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

In this moving personal account of faith and fortitude, internationally ranked surfer Bethany Hamilton tells how she survived a shark attack that cost her arm--but not her spirit.

They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing—not even the loss of her arm—could come between her and the waves? That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany responded to the shark’s stealth attack with the calm of a girl with God on her side. Pushing pain and panic aside, she began to paddle with one arm, focusing on a single thought: “Get to the beach....” And when the first thing Bethany wanted to know after surgery was “When can I surf again?” it became clear that her spirit and determination were part of a greater story—a tale of courage and faith that this soft-spoken girl would come to share with the world.

Soul Surfer is a moving account of Bethany’s life as a young surfer, her recovery after the attack, the adjustments she’s made to her unique surfing style, her unprecedented bid for a top showing in the World Surfing Championships, and, most fundamentally, her belief in God. It is a story of girl power and spiritual grit that shows the body is no more essential to surfing—perhaps even less so—than the soul.


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