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

by Bethany Hamilton

Other authorsSheryl Berk (Contributor), Rick Bundschuh
Paperback, 2006


Checked out
Due January 4, 2024

Call number

J Ha


MTV Books (2006), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 240 pages


The bestselling inspirational story of the celebrated teenaged surfer girl who lost her arm in a near-fatal shark attack--and triumphantly returned to competitive surfing. She lost her arm in a shark attack and nearly died, but she never lost her faith. In her #1 New York Times bestseller, Bethany Hamilton tells the moving story of her triumphant return to competitive surfing, which continues to inspire all who hear it. They say Bethany Hamilton has salt water in her veins. How else could one explain the passion that drives her to surf? Or 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 teenage girl with God on her side, resolutely pushing aside her pain and panic while being rescued and brought back to shore. "When can I surf again?" was the first thing Bethany asked after her emergency surgery, leaving no doubt that her spirit and determination were part of a greater story--a tale of personal empowerment and spiritual grit that shows the body is no more essential to surfing, perhaps even less so, than the soul.… (more)

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User reviews

LibraryThing member nm.spring08.a.hayes
This is a story about a girl, Bethany, whose dream was to surf. When she has a terrible experience once out on the water, it was extremely hard for her to get back on the board. Bethany gets attacked by a shark. She was out on the water with some friends when it happened and was immediately rushed
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to the hospital. Bethany's whole left arm had to be taken off, and was now nothing but a stub. This is a great book about chasing dreams and following your heart.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Ms. Hamilton tells the story of her shark attack and what happened afterwards from a very faithful perspective. She doesn't dwell on the surely difficult period of learning to accept her new reality. Instead she talks about how she was supported and cared for as she learns to adjust and thrive with
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the loss of her arm. There is also an interesting history of how her parents came to Hawaii and met and an explanation of just much surfing plays a role in their family. Additional material was added to the audio version I listened to, adding information about the shooting of the film by the same name.
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LibraryThing member just_some_bookworm
I wanted to like this book. I find it inspiring that although this girl lost her arm, she's still able to surf. However I found the book to be full of trivial information about Bethany and her family, not so much about her life story. I understand she was age 13 when this book was released, but I
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thought it unnecessary of her to share with readers that she wishes she could sometimes ignore her fans. I also thought it was immature of her to write that when people ask her questions about herself, she tells them to read her book. Judging by all the merchandise and fan club currently on her website, I think she's more concerned with being a "brand" instead of a role model.
Maybe if years from now she writes another autobiography, it will be more mature and set a better example for her young fans. Personally I prefer how she was portrayed in the movie version of Soul Surfer. The movie painted a more positive, engaging, mature public image of Bethany Hamilton.
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LibraryThing member Joles
I really wanted to like Soul Surfer a lot. I enjoyed the surfing bits and the story about what happened and how she came back from it. Unfortunately, it was too preachy for me to really truly enjoy. I rolled my eyes quite a bit at the immature language/sentence structure (yes I know she was young,
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but that's what editors are for).

The thing that hurt my opinion of the book the most was what my students would perceive when reading this (beyond all the references to God.) She talks about being a practical joker and pulling some things that I would not want my students to do. She also has an immature outlook about safety around the water that I don't want my students to gain. As an adult who knows better I guffawed at her youthful sense of invincibility but wouldn't want my students to make the same errors.
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LibraryThing member LauraS.
This inspirational tale of a girl overcoming all odds will tug at your heart strings. You'll find that you won't be able to put this book down as you comb through the young life of Bethany Hamilton. She takes you on a journey of her struggles and triumphs, and all the while you find that she is the
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bravest woman of her time. This is a book that you will not want to miss, I promise.
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LibraryThing member EmilyFernandez
The auto biography “Soul Surfer” written by Bethany Hamilton is an inspirational book about a young teenage girl from Hawaii, who lost her left arm from a server shark attack. She is a competitive surfer who goes around the world surfing. With her lost arm, she has to learn how to deal with
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life’s challenges, and most of all, she has to learn how to surf again! Bethany is a great role model for never giving up!

Bethany Hamilton is just an average teenage girl who lives in Hawaii. She is a competitive surfer, became homeschooled right after 6th grade so she could go around the world surfing and doing what she loves. But one day her and her friends were out surfing and a 14 foot shark bit her left arm. When her friends were paddling her to shore, Bethany never passed out. She was calm, just telling her friends to call 911. While this was happening, her dad was already in the hospital where he planned on getting knee surgery that day. All of the family met up at the hospital and the doctors brought Bethany into instant surgery. After several surgeries later, Bethany was sent home. The first thing Bethany wanted to know by her doctors is if she was ever going to be able to surf again. This book reminds me of a motivational athlete Kyle Maynard who has no arms, or legs and has won 35 rewards. This reminds me of Bethany because he is so motivated to do his best and follow his dreams.

This book is a very good quality book for a person that likes auto biographies. Bethany gives very good details and doesn’t seem to leave anything out about her life. This book is a very good book for any ages from 12 years old or older. I rate this book 5 out of 5 because I love how Bethany writes and explains the challenges of only having one arm. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone!
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LibraryThing member edspicer
It's a good book, it is just kind of boring because it talks about every little thing, and it's not that interesting but it's still kind of good. I saw the movie and it was very good, and these kind of stories interest me. Q4P4 AHS/Livia C.
LibraryThing member leah_29
this book is about a girl who got her arm bitten off by a 15 foot tiger shark on the island of kaui. it is a good book
LibraryThing member DF6B_MeaghanG
Bethany Hamilton was thirteen years old when she had her arm bitten off by a shark in Hawaii. Soul Surfer tells of how Bethany delt with the situation and kept strong in her faith through everything. I really liked this book because she had so much positive attidute in everything that happened and
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she knew that God was with her through everything.
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LibraryThing member beckymmoe
Soul Surfer is the true story of Bethany Hamilton, the fourteen-year-old surfer from Hawaii who lost her left arm to a shark. Hers is a truly inspirational story. It's told very matter-of-factly, and Bethany gives much of the credit for how well she's come through her experiences to her
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relationship with God.

Bethany's attitude throughout the book is amazing. There's no whining, no "why me?"s (at least not in the sense that you'd expect), no defeatest attitudes. In fact, pretty much the whole story is told in a positive, upbeat manner. You can really see how much her family and friends mean to her and how much they all came together to get through what must have been an extremely difficult time.

Soul Surfer is a quick read; on audio it was just under four hours. My only real complaint (besides the odd, slightly annoying music that popped up between sections and chapters) is that there really is no significant mention of the struggles Bethany must have gone through learning to adapt to using one arm. She does touch on it briefly, but really, we hear more about having to work with AnnaSofia Robb (who plays Bethany in the film that just came out based on the book) to make the adjustments needed in her surfing for the movie than for Bethany's. I can only imagine that for someone so young it must have been too recent a struggle for her to discuss in her book, or perhaps that just wasn't the focus she wanted to have. She stresses throughout how important her relationship with God is; and that is indeed a very large theme in her story.

Overall, this is an inspirational book about a truly remarkable role model for not only young girls, but for all of us.
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LibraryThing member Kaitlyn.Johnston
Soul Surfer tells the story of Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm after a shark attack. I could see the story of her returning to surfing as an inspiring story for students, however despite being an interesting tale there are serious issues with the pacing in the book. I could see many students
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being engaged for the first section of the book discussing her accident and recovery, but losing interest in the chapters that followed. As such, this would likely not be a story I would go out of my way to suggest, even though her story is an inspirational one.
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LibraryThing member MyraMae
3Q, 4P. There's no doubt about it. Bethany Hamilton is one amazing and inspiring young adult. The main reasons why I wanted to read this book are: 1) I am utterly impressed by female athletes, especially professional surfer girls, and 2) like everyone else, I love a good shark attack story.
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Hamilton does not hold back in her jaw dropping autobiography. I am so impressed by this girl's courage and will to not give up. I love Hamilton's story and how she has used her story to inspire so many young women and to bring hope to amputees around the world. I would love to meet her someday. Hamilton's other passion, her faith and spirituality, really comes out in her writing. It is almost too thick in some parts and at times detracts from the story. But, since Hamilton is up front about the importance faith has in her life, I also see her spirituality as a true extension of who she is as a person. With this said, I think some teens who really just want to read about surfing and shark attacks may get turned off by Hamilton's spirituality talk. The writing quality could have been stronger and more polished. Parts of the book feel flat and underdeveloped. Although, in true teenager style, Hamilton has added fun tidbits such as a "surfspeak" glossary and outstanding surfer pics that will make any surfer wannabe in awe of Hamilton's mind blowing natural talent.
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LibraryThing member ZoeSNicholson
I thought this was a very well-written, inspiring novel!

I find it so amazing that a girl who endured such a tragedy as Bethany could make such a comeback. You can tell by reading this book how selfless, strong, determined, and spirited Bethany is. I very much admire her. I thought the book was
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great, not only because Bethany was able to tell her story firsthand, but the book was more like a journal than an actual "book," with pages here and there listing her favorite surf spots and surf language, as well as pictures.

Reading about Bethany's comeback as a surfer was really humbling as well. It makes you think about how many times you've wanted to give up (and have!) and how many times you complain about petty everyday issues.

I think Christians especially will really love this book (or anyone with religious beliefs) because Bethany is a devout Christian, and God was her rock throughout everything. God was her anchor, and I loved reading about Bethany's struggles, and her realizations about Christ and the things He has in store for us.
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LibraryThing member Anna.Nash
I read Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton because I was book talking to a group of tweens who were active in church and the book I had initially selected, Tweak by Nic Sheff which is about drug addiction, didn’t seem appropriate. The book was not particularly well written and its constant upbeat
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tone became almost unbearable after a very short period of time. That said, this is a case of a reader and a book not being compatible, not the book being poor quality.
This book is great inspirational book for teens and tweens. It was a true you-can-do-anything-you-put-your-mind-to book. It is also a great outlet for teen readers who have a very upbeat and positive outlook on life while still struggling with all the normal things every teen goes through. Hamilton writes, “I may have no clue where I’m going, but He sure does! A lot of teens feel this way, I know. You graduate high school and you’re like, ‘What now?’ I can relate. It’s like all of a sudden, you’re face-to-face with your future and its one gigantic question mark.” (1525 of 2230 Kindle ebook) 3Q 2P.
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LibraryThing member mrsheather1974
“I don't really want people looking to me for inspiration. I just want to be a sign along the way that points toward Heaven.”

A good way to drive this point home with students is to have them make a list of signs they have passed along the way that points toward Heaven. Have the students share
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them with each other and discuss how they were impacted by these signs. Discuss how some signs might not be as obvious as others - depends on who you are.
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LibraryThing member kenno82
Incredible account of the author's attach and resolve to make meaning out of her life for others.
LibraryThing member HeatherLINC
This is an inspirational story written by a young girl for young teenagers. I thought the writing lacked detail, polish and depth, but I admired Bethany's courage as she struggled with the challenges of losing an arm after a horrific shark attack. I think younger readers will find this an
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interesting story, but for me I felt there was something lacking.
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LibraryThing member Castlelass
I first heard of Bethany Hamilton in 2013 when she was filming Dolphin Tale 2 in Florida at the Clearwater Aquarium, working with Winter, the dolphin that learned to swim using a prosthetic tail. In 2003, at age thirteen, Bethany lost her left arm in a shark attack. In this book, published in 2004,
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she tells the story of the attack, the aftermath, her Christian faith, and how she returned to professional surfing. I read the updated version that includes her thoughts on the movie, also entitled Soul Surfer, which was released in 2011. This book is written in plain language in a colloquial young adult style. It serves as an inspirational example of a young person overcoming life-altering adversity.
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Original publication date


Physical description

222 p.; 7.5 inches


1416503463 / 9781416503460


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