Just this past weekend I went to see Soul Surfer, The Bethany Hamilton story. Bethany is attacked by a shark and loses her arm in the attack. She makes a miraculous recovery (as if her survival weren't miraculous enough) and goes on to become a professional surfer.
I had already checked out Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham from the library, this year's winner of the Iowa Teen Award. Written in verse, Jane is only fifteen when she is attacked by a shark at the beach. Jane's passion is art, and life without one arm makes it difficult to pursue that dream. She goes through some tough times of depression, wondering why this happened to her, feeling different from her friends - all normal feelings for what Jane has been through. Being attacked by a shark has brough Jane unwanted attention - something she does not want. Yet, the letters she receives from people do offer encouragement and the knowledge that people from all walks of life are rooting for her. And, even though the spotlight is not where Jane wants to be, she does eventually develop an understanding that her tragedy could help others.
Of course I could find some similarities between Bethany Hamilton's story and that of Jane in Shark Girl, but I enjoyed both stories a lot and just felt that they complemented each other as opposed to trying to pick which one I liked more. Shark Girl is a fast read and will appeal to reluctant readers as well as both boys and girls. Jane provides an honest voice about a teenager who is forced to give up and make changes to her dream for her future.