So the book is about Bethany Hamilton and her story of how she got her arm bitten off by a shark, and made an insane return to the surfing world just a short time after. My dad bought it for me because growing up we would go surfing all the time in Devon and Cornwall. Her story fascinates me, it includes everything you could imagine and it’s all true. The book has since been turned into a film starring AnnaSophia Robb and has obviously been dramatised a little but in my opinion it sticks to the story pretty well.
Spoiler alert – she gets back in the water. Her Instagram is here and shows her daily life and adventures with her husband and son Noah, who is absolutely adorable. What impresses me most is she’s since been swimming with sharks for fun – I’m not entirely sure I’d be able to do that!
Bethany Hamilton was 13 years old when she was out surfing one day and her watch glinted in the sunlight, attracting the attention of a nearby 14ft tiger shark. It bit her arm off and half of her surfboard before swimming away. What’s incredible about this story is how calm she stays throughout. In the film it’s obviously a lot more dramatic but in the book she’s just repeating to herself that she needs to get to the beach and she’ll be ok from there. It then goes on to document her stay in hospital, her pranks on the nurses, her thoughts of not being able to return to surfing, and how she manages to get back on the board with the help of her friends and family.
I love this book because it shows that determination and your attitude has a massive impact on your life in general. One of my favourite quotes from it is “Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.” It goes against the trend of little girls growing up playing with barbies and dolls, this girl grew up chasing waves and living literally on the edge. This girl showed that having her arm bitten off by a shark wasn’t going to stop her, it wasn’t going to hold her back and she went on to win countless competitions and awards.
Her whole family came together to help her and support her comeback, her brothers take her photos and manage her website, her parents taught her to surf and looked into alternatives when they thought there might be no other way. They always knew she would get back on the board and were determined to help her in any way they could to make the family dreams reality. They mourned and celebrated as a family, there’s never at any point any animosity between the siblings and it just goes to show that family bonds will help you through pretty much anything in life.
Another reason I love this book is I grew up surfing, I know the adrenaline and there’s an amazing chapter where she describes that feeling of surfing and it going really well for the first time. I grew up spending my summers on the Cornish beaches so I can’t exactly imagine a major shark attack but it really does make you think. How would you react if something like that happened? Would you be able to stay calm enough to keep your heart rate down so you don’t lose too much blood and potentially bring the shark back for more or black out completely? Would you have the courage to get back in the water, knowing what could happen? The book speaks a lot about her Christian faith and how it helped her through the darkest times. I’m not a religious person at all, I didn’t go into reading it knowing that she’s a Christian, and it didn’t affect my judgement at all. If people find having a faith helps them, I’m happy for them, and in this case it definitely helped her see things as part of a plan. Rather than lamenting her situation she took it as all part of a higher plan and she would just have to have faith that it would all work out.
*image from google*