Shark Girl



Introspective look at a teen's road to recovery.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A thoughtful, but at times distressing, examination of the challenges faced by a girl who loses her arm in a vicious shark attack.

Positive role models

Meaningful adults play a large role in her recuperation, including
mother, brother, extended family members, therapist, doctors, nurses,
counselors, friends. But it's up to Jane to accept who she is.


Teen attacked by shark in water, massive amounts of blood, major injury to arm that is amputated. After waking from coma, the girl is in incredible pain.


Fantasies described of kissing a boyfriend. Crushes on boys in school. Older brother watches girls in bikinis at beach.


Mild use of profanity such as "bastard," "damn," "hell," "s--t."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is graphic description of the physical, mental, and emotional trauma of a 15-year-old girl being attacked by a shark and having her arm amputated. Profanity is present but fairly mild, and there is discussion of having boyfriends, kissing them, etc.

What's the story?

Jane is an award-winning, 15-year-old artist who joins her mother and brother on a routine trip to the beach one summer afternoon. A few hours later, she's attacked by a shark while swimming only four yards from the shore. Her right arm is amputated above the elbow, and her life is changed forever.

Jane is acutely aware of boys and how they'll respond to her with an artificial arm back at school. People reach out to her though, including a "popular senior boy" that stirs some school gossip and tension with a girl friend. Volunteering at the hospital and helps her on her slow journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

Is it any good?


This is an emotional book that's best for the tender-hearted reader ready for some soul-searching. Written using narrative, poems, and letters to Jane from strangers moved by her story, the story follows Jane's slow progress to accepting her traumatic experience. The sadness, hopelessness, and depression felt by the main character, along with emotions of meaningful people in her life, are honestly depicted through dialogue and plot and will be quite moving to the right kind of introspective reader.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the challenges Jane faces when she loses her arm. Can you imagine how this would make your own life more difficult?

  • Also, parents can ask their teens about the person who videotaped the

  • attack and then had the film shown on TV.

  • Was this appropriate, and was

  • there anything positive to be gained by showing the footage?

Book details

Author:Kelly Bingham
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:April 19, 2007
Number of pages:288
Publisher's recommended age(s):12
Read aloud:12
Read alone:12

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bydam3tra March 23, 2010


I'm a 13 year old kis myself, and i didnt think that the book was to bad it was pretty good. the book DOES give visiual images
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written bybapoohbear June 25, 2010

Great book for people 11+, most likely girls

i love this book because the girl was doing what she loves, is attacked, and keeps goin on with what she loves to do when she is healed. she is a great role model. this book is also a true story.
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

Gr8st book ever

I read this book in one weekend. It was amazing and scary and supesful!


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