Inspired by a real person and full of lessons worth learning.
Note: This story and most of its characters are fictional, but it's inspired by the very real Bethany Hamilton.
Bethany Hamilton and her friends are die-hard surfers and close-knit. Jenna is new to the island and very much in need of a friend or two or three. Bethany and her friend Malia meet Jenna at the beach and only a change of heart will help all three of them become friends.
Bethany's not perfect. She's a normal fourteen-year-old with her own problems to work through, but she learns from her mistakes. She loves her friends but she also wants to be careful about cliques. She's very careful about who she hangs out with, which is good, but she also needs to learn how to reach out. The Hamilton family is firm on the subject of parental respect.
Malia is much more willing to befriend the lonely Jenna. Another girl in Bethany's circle is cool toward Jenna and wants to keep the circle elite.
Someone reminds Bethany that non-Christians don't have the same kind of lives and behaviors that Christians do. Two character apologize to people they've hurt.
There's plenty of God in here. Most of the characters are Christians. Church and youth group are attended. The Bible is read and quoted. Two characters hear God speak to them through their thoughts (which readers should be careful to consider). A character comes to Christ.
The story starts with a nightmare of the shark attack on Bethany; the attack is mentioned later as well, but it's brief, passive, and non-graphic.
A surfer is caught in a rip tide, pushed under by the waves, and barely rescued in time.
Drug and Alcohol Content
None except that the front cover features a side view of Bethany surfing, wearing a surf shirt that doesn't cover her lower back (due to the position she's in) and a bikini bottom.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
Jenna and her mom exchange verbal abuse (not written).
This is a fictional tale in the life of a non-fictional person, but that doesn't change the lessons that can be learned. It's a fine story with believable characters and a satisfying conclusion that constructs the setting for the next book in the series.