Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton inspired the April 2011 movie of the same name. This book is the true story of a thirteen-year-old girl attacked by a shark while surfing in Hawaii. The 200-page book starts with a brief account of the incident. Then Bethany explains how her family history brought her to that day. Her voice is spunky, playful, and authentic. The things she wants to share are her love for God, her family, and surfing. She tells the reader about being homeschooled so she can pursue competitive surfing, and why she loves the sport. We learn about the history of surfing, what every day life is like on Kauai, and are introduced to her network of friends and mentors from church, her neighborhood, and the surfing world.

Then we enter her thoughts and feelings. We hear the reaction of her community while she is in the hospital. We find out what motivated her to accept celebrity status and what this does to her life. We see her grow through her pain to regain her skills as an athlete and learn new lessons in faith and friendship.

I asked a teen reader what she liked about Soul Surfer. She said, “It had a mature thirteen-year-old girl voice: someone who loves her faith and her family and is gutsy.”

Another cool thing about the book is that it’s loaded with color photographs of Bethany from age four, through her recovery, and back again on her surfboard. She includes her website address so readers can learn more about her. Now twenty, she continues to compete.

This is a story of an ordinary, fun-loving teen who endured an extraordinary experience and followed her dream for all the right reasons. A good read for ages ten to fifteen.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

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