Soul Surfer

by Bethany Hamilton
216 pages, Biography/History
Reviewed by Ariel_of_Narnia

Easy, conversational, and inspiring.


Bethany Hamilton was your average thirteen-year-old girl with saltwater in her veins and a passion for God. October 31, 2003, her life took a dramatic turn when she lost her arm to a tiger shark. Three weeks after that, she was back on her surfboard. Since then, she's become a worldwide celebrity and inspiration.


Bethany is very optimistic and realizes that if she fails, tomorrow's a new day. She is determined and works hard to achieve her multiple goals. She has a deep compassion for people and wishes to encourage those going through tough experiences. She is spunky, energetic, and cheerful. Her family rallies around her and display the above qualities as well.

Bethany relates a time when she and her friends when "ding-dong ditching" (ring someone's doorbell, then run and hide). (The Hamiltons like pranks, but Bethany does acknowledge when a joke is taken too far and apologizes when that's the case.)

Spiritual Content

The Hamiltons are solid Christians and they don't care who knows it...in fact, the more who know, the better! Bethany is not shy about speaking of her beliefs, what she thinks of God, and accepts opportunities to share Him in every avenue possible. There is plenty of mention of prayers, church, and the body of Christ pulling together.


Shark. Traumatic amputation. Blood loss. Shock. The elements are all there, but none of it is graphic. The most graphic description is something along the lines of "the water nearby turned bright red".

Drug and Alcohol Content

None besides medicines.

Sexual Content

None except for some pictures of females (Bethany, her mom, and her best friend included) in bikinis. (This is due to the culture of Hawaii where such coverings are normal. "When asked... about modesty, Bethany replied, 'Good-looking surfer guys aren't looking at the girls. They're looking at the waves.' (from PluggedIn's review of the movie Soul Surfer). This is not necessarily a good reason, however.)

Crude or Profane Language or Content



The book is easy to read and feels conversational with its casual approach and its chopped-up feel (Bethany sets up for the shark attack twice before she actually talks about the event). Tap into Bethany's heart and mind as she relates her story.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: 13+

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