Wednesday, May 04, 2005

soul surfer

As the subtitle says, soul surfer by Bethany Hamilton is "a true story of faith, family, and fighting to get back on the board."

What's nice is that even though only Bethany's name is on the cover, the book (and Bethany) give credit to the writers: Sheryl Berk and Rich Bundschuh. She talks about the process of writing and organizing the book: "I'll tell you one thing: it wasn't easy."

At age 13, Bethany was already surfing competitively and had a sponsor; she and her family took her surfing so seriously that Bethany was homeschooled. She was surfing with friends in Kauai, Hawaii, when her left arm was bitten off by a tiger shark. The cover of the book has a picture of the board she was on when it happened; its a wonder that she only lost her arm. There is also a picture of the shark that attacked her: it is huge.

The story is simple: its about Bethany's life before the attack, the attack, and her return to surfing. And let me add not just to surfing for fun: Bethany still competes, and she still wins.

soul surfer provides a unique look into the culture behind surfing: the people whose priority is surfing, who have created lives and families that revolve around surfing.

Bethany is upfront, honest, and upbeat. Bethany is also Christian; refreshingly, neither she nor her family suffer any crisis of faith in the aftermath of the attack. If anything, their faith is strengthened. At the same time, this is not a book that is preachy or didactic. Bethany is involved in her faith and proud of it, but she's not using this book as a soapbox. If anything, the message of this book is to not let anything come between you and what you love doing.

Bethany is unique not in that she lost her arm; Bethany is unique in that she knew from a young age what it was that made her happy, and she has parents who were willing to support her. The message of this book is simple: do not let anything come between you and what you love doing.

Who would like? Anyone! It's simply written; is exciting; is about survival; is about a different way of life. And it has a happy ending.

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