Book Review: Soul Surfer, A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton with Sheryl Berk and Rick Bundschuh

After having read Gabrielle Douglas’s Grace, Gold & Glory, another autobiography by a young Christian female athlete, I decided to check out Bethany Hamilton’s autobiography, Soul Surfer. The book was initially published in 2004, when Bethany was fourteen. Accompanying the opening of the (excellent) major motion picture in 2011, Soul Surfer was re-released with added bonus material in the back – mostly journal entries and interviews regarding the film, and color photographs.

Bethany is a young Hawaii surfer who lost her arm to a shark attack as a teen. Miraculously, she continues to surf. Rather than letting her circumstances bring her down, she graciously accepts her fate, and believes that losing her arm was part of God’s plan to use her as a missionary. She is a devout Christian who believes that her predicament may serve a greater cause, to inspire others to faith.

Remarkable about this young woman’s narrative is that she is consistently calm, optimistic and positive in the face of her adversity. If it were me, I’d be complaining constantly! But Bethany Hamilton never dwells upon the shark attack or the past. She’s concerned only with serving and helping others, and – of course – surfing. She writes with sincerity that it’s “worth losing her arm,” if it can help others to believe in God. The way she sees it, she has a loving family, lots of supportive friends, and a God who’s taking care of her, and still has great plans for her.

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