Soul Surfer Book Poster Image

Soul Surfer



Inspirational story of life after a shark attack.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Families can use this book to delve into a series of issues, from discussing the book's message to comparing and contrasting it with the movie of the same name. Families may also want to talk about the popularity of the story: Did you know it's a bestseller? Why do so many readers buy this book?

Positive messages

Readers get the message that adversity can be overcome with optimism, and having faith will lead to success.

Positive role models

Bethany is wise beyond her years. She is strong-willed, confident, and optimistic. Her faith is unyielding and inspirational. Rather than focusing on her loss, she is grateful for what she does have: her life. 


The shark attack is described in great detail. Although it is a short paragraph, Bethany recalls the blue water changing to red with her blood.

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Lots of surf logos are mentioned, especially Bethany's sponsor, Rip Curl. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book tells the true story of a girl who was attacked by a shark and loses her arm. In the book, Bethany remembers seeing a shadow of gray and then feeling a sharp pull on her arm. She then witnesses the water around her transform to red with her blood. There are lots of references to the Christian faith and Bethany quotes scriptures from the Bible. The message of Bethany's story is adversity can be overcome with optimism, and having faith will lead to success.

What's the story?

This is the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a 13-year old girl who lost her arm to a shark. She describes the frightening attack, but also talks about how she persevered after her injury. Only a month later she learned to surf again -- and then returned to pro surfing. Her story also inspired the movie of the same name.

Is it any good?


This is an inspirational story that may have special appeal to Christian tweens and teens. But even kids from different faiths will admire Bethany's strength and appreciate her message: adversity can be overcome with optimism, and having faith will lead to success. Bethany proves that a can-do attitude often leads to success -- and her true life story will give readers plenty to think and talk about.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the book's message about facing life’s challenges. Do you think you'd be able to respond to a life-changing tragedy the way Bethany does? How do you think she manages it?

  • This book inspired the movie of the same name. Families may want to compare and contrast the two. Which made a stronger impression on you?

Book details

Author:Bethany Hamilton
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publication date:March 1, 2011
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Available on:Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Kindle

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Kid, 11 years old October 12, 2011

Soul Surfer - Bethany is a great role model!!!

This book is fantastic!!! I love how Bethany put it all together! The attack is described in details, but Bethany is soooo calm about it and you know it's gonna turn out ok, so it's not scary. Great book!!!! Love Soul Surfer!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bycheerlion1012 July 12, 2011

MUST read!!!!!

Soul Surfer the book is about surfer Bethany Hamilton. She is a good role model because not only did she get back into the water but she also is a hardcore Christian. She shows plently of positive messages! Comsumerison is a bit of a factor she quotes Rip Curl and Angel Footwear a lot (her sponsers). This is TOTALLY a must read! The attack was pretty well explain but not very gory ,but nerve racking!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much consumerism
Teen, 14 years old Written byleftbehindcrazed8 August 4, 2011


I am in love with this book! I agree with Common Sense completely about how strong Bethany is, and how she is a great, amazing role model. Yes, the attack is very bloody, and she does describe it with details, but honestly, I don't think it would scare kids over 9. READ THIS, ESPECIALLY CHRISTIANS!!!!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence


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