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

4.6 1027
by Bethany Hamilton, Rick Bundschuh

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The amazing story of the thirteen-year-old surfer girl who lost her arm in a shark attack but never lost her faith -- and of her triumphant return to competitive surfing.
They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the tremendous passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing -- not even the…  See more details below


The amazing story of the thirteen-year-old surfer girl who lost her arm in a shark attack but never lost her faith -- and of her triumphant return to competitive surfing.
They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the tremendous passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing -- not even the loss of her arm in a horrific shark attack -- could come between her and the waves?
That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii -- a glorious part of the world, where it's hard to deny the divine -- 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 immediately began to paddle with one arm, focusing on a single thought: "Get to the beach...." Rushed to the hospital, where her father, Tom Hamilton, was about to undergo knee surgery, Bethany found herself taking his spot in the O.R. It's the kind of coincidence that isn't mere coincidence to the Hamilton family, a clan whose motto could easily be "the family that surfs and prays together stays together." To them it was a sign someone had a greater plan than the one they'd been working on themselves -- which had been to scrape together whatever resources they could to help Bethany rise to the top of her sport. When the first thing Bethany wanted to know after surgery was "When can I surf again?" it became clear that her unfaltering spirit and determination were part of a greater story -- a tale of courage and faith that this modest and 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 in the wake of the shark 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 that the body is no more essential to surfing -- perhaps even less so -- than the soul.

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Editorial Reviews

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.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Surfer Bethany Hamilton, of Kauai, revisits her first book—about her life before and after losing her left arm to a shark in 2003, when she was 13. Now, with the release of a docudrama on her life, she has added new material. Eleni Pappageorge's narration reflects the maturity Hamilton has gained since the first book. The most interesting passages are about Hamilton's family, their Christian perspective, and the bond formed by their shared love of surfing. The book would be an excellent choice for Christian families listening together—and, thankfully, there's nothing graphic about the shark attack. Interviews at the end provide an interesting look at the making of the movie." 
J.A.S. © AudioFile Portland, Maine

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Read an Excerpt


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 is only started.

Copyright © 2004 by Bethany Hamilton

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Soul Surfer 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1027 reviews.
Sydney Rogers More than 1 year ago
I watched the movie and i was soooo into it. I felt what bethany felt. Durring the shark attack my left arm fell alseep!bethany made me want to try surfing.i could read the book and watch the movie over and over again. I say that this was my fav movie and book lov it it is #1
ilovesesamestreet More than 1 year ago
I love this book it is such an amazing story and such a strong girl i would like for everyone of my friends to read this book.
Maile Graber More than 1 year ago
I like this book because it shows that god will allways help you when you need help and if this happends to you and you read this nook you would now what could happen to you and you will be able to get a new perspective and if you get stuck in the inpackt zone you need to get right back up the reason i rote a review is so people would know how much perserverints it took to get back up on the board.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book like no other! She is a wonderful author and has lots of description. Who would be better to tell her story better than Miss Bethany herself? I had to have my friend read it ! My love of surfing fits well with my love of this book! I VERY MUCH reccomend this book to all Bethany fans and lovers of the water.
Andrew Duplantis More than 1 year ago
The movie and the book was life changing.
Mckinzie Henderson More than 1 year ago
I love this book i can not believe she whent through this but im so glad that Jesus had His hand on her i love you and your true faith keep it up and always stay with Him love in Him mckinzie
Jeanette Ball More than 1 year ago
An emotionally trying story of inspirationally overcoming obstacles and having faith in the big picture. I cant wai to see te movie
gretchenpokrant More than 1 year ago
"Soul Surfer" is a very inspirational story about a young girl, Bethany Hamilton, who has a dream. A dream that is very reachable, until it was abrupted by a horrendous experience that would forever change her life. Bethany always wanted to become a pro surfer. She was always said to be the "next big surfer". That was until a horrendous accident occurred. On October 30, 2003, she was relaxing on her board when a shark came up from under her and bit her arm off. After that, her life forever changed. I honestly don't know many people who would've handled this situation as well as Bethany did. Her passion and dedication was truly inspiring. The fact that she didn't wallow in self-pity, not only says a lot about her character, but the fact that she is able to overcome anything life throws at her. I really liked how inspirational the story and message was. It really inspired me to be the best person I can possibly be. Bethany's story also showed me no matter what life throws at you, you can handle it. Even if that means modifying everything in your life. I also really liked how she was motivated by God. I think everyone has their go to person and God was Bethany's. He showed her that it is okay to be different, it's okay to be strong, it's okay to keep living your everyday life. The only thing I really didn't enjoy was towards the middle, it did get a little dry. However, that is the only complaint I have! I think every girl should read this book. It really showed me that it's okay to be different. In school now of days, it's not the cool thing to be 'different. However, Bethany's teaching girls all around the World to embrace their uniqueness and I think that takes a special person (which Bethany clearly is). I would rate this book a 5 because the message was so strong and so appealing to people all over the World. You never think you'll be the 'one', but sometimes you are and you have to deal with it. Bethany's story is a true inspiration to my life. Truly a great read:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is 1 word. AWESOME!!
Bridget Moore More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie...I applaud you Bethany!!!
Kamryn Reams More than 1 year ago
Saw the movie and thought this book would be cool. This book is awesome!
Staci Layton More than 1 year ago
Best book ever love it!
Dawn Barrett More than 1 year ago
im in fiifth grade and i was able to understand it perfectly. this would be a great book for like fourth grade and up.
Seaberg Family Account More than 1 year ago
SO Inspirational! Good for younger kids, too. I am almost 10 and I enjoyed this book.
Abbie Claire Boozer More than 1 year ago
The book AND movie r so inspiring to me i wish tht i cood b just like Bethany with the grit she had not to scream out loud but to also be on His side i pray for Bethany Hamilton every day and a word if advice for those who like to surf DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT sneak out tht will just kead u to horrible things and situations that people every day have to go thru BETHANY HAMILTON I PRAY FOR U AND I HOPE THT U LOVE THE PEOPLE THT R ON UR SIDE THT SUPPORT AND PRAY FOR U
Ines Rantanen More than 1 year ago
i am in the same world as her when i read this book and i love that shes strong enough to write this book this makes me feel stronger and i am only nine
Brenda M Lathigee More than 1 year ago
This is an inspirational story. I think she has amazing potential and guts to be able to get back up and surf again. I would recommend this book and movie to anyone that was willing to read about this amazing girls story and all the courage she had just to do what made her happy and to live her dream(:
Emma Baird More than 1 year ago
An amazing sotry of a young girl who survives a shark attack but looses her left arm. This book shows that you can truely do anything as long as you put your faith in God.
Cathy Mihalko More than 1 year ago
The tale of an inspiring & Faithfilled young woman! Highly recommend. Great book for teen girls.
Marla Vivino More than 1 year ago
Saw movie reading book next... so pumped to read it!!!!!!
Mary Engelberth More than 1 year ago
It was so cool how she lived from a shark attak it was a awsome book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love you too Katie! This is my third review on this book! I am really moved how much everyone believes in me, Thanks, Bethany
Riley Romig More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome.bethany hamilton is a very talented young women:)
STORE NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
Great movie and book
Annie MacRae More than 1 year ago
I think beathany is basicly awesome !! She is so inspiring ! I want to cry sometimes. But dont worry happy tears !! Meerting her would mean the world to me !! I think i feel a conection with her because i love to surf ! I have been in the ocean since i was 6 months !!! I love it !