Bethany Hamilton’s New Book Inspires Children to Overcome their Fears

Megan Swedberg, Scarlet Staff

 On Oct. 4, 2022, Professional surfer and inspirational figure Bethany Hamilton released her new children’s book “Surfing Past Fear.” As Hamilton describes in a recent blog post, her book, in partnership with US-based publisher Brave Books, tells the story of a young otter named Olivia learning to surf through her fears.

After experiencing a scary wipeout while surfing one day, Olivia finds herself scared to get back on the board. However, with the help of a new friend, she is able to conquer her fear and cut through the waves. This uplifting story about finding the courage to face your fears and get back up after falling, speaks to Hamilton’s own experience with hardship, the lessons she gained from it, and seeks to instill in future generations.

 Hamilton found a love for surfing at a young age, raised in a surfing family on the white sands of Hawaii. According to Hamilton, her dream to become a professional surfer emerged when she was 8 or 9 years old. It was at this point that she began competing in amateur competitions, showing signs of a promising career in surfing. As her talent and abilities improved, her faith in God and desire to glorify him through surfing simultaneously expanded.

In October of 2003, Hamilton retells in a short documentary posted to her personal YouTube channel, how an unforeseeable tragedy changed her life forever. While surfing with a close friend as well as her friend’s brother and father, Hamilton, 13 years old at the time, was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark, leaving her without her left arm and suffering from significant blood loss. Just three weeks after nearly losing her life, she was back in the water learning to surf with only one arm.

Despite being uncertain if she’d ever be able to surf again and fearful of what this would mean for her future, Hamilton found the strength to rise above adversity through her faith, relentless passion, and the support from her family and community. As detailed in the biography section of her blog, at 17-years-old, Hamilton realized her childhood dream of becoming a professional surfer and, in the process, became a representation of resiliency, courage, and strength to millions around the world. 

Today, as a wife, mother, surfer, author, and motivational speaker, Hamilton continues to use her story and the fame it has brought her, as a platform for inspiring others to overcome challenges and chase their dreams. She embodies the idea that it is not our struggles that define us, but how we respond. 

Hamilton’s book “Surfing Past Fear” is the newest product of her desire to influence others. The purpose of her book, as Hamilton discusses in a video entitled “My Heart Behind Writing My New Book, ‘Surfing Past Fear,” is to build strength and resilience in children and families, inspiring them to overcome their fears. When talking about what led her to write this book, Hamilton reflects on her own story, expressing how glad she is that she didn’t let her fear stop her from getting back into the water, remarking on how this tragic and horrible moment in her life, turned into something more beautiful than she could’ve ever imagined. In recognizing the good that came from conquering her fears and the hurdles that life threw at her, Hamilton found herself wanting to help children do the same. As put in her own words, her goal in writing this book is “letting children know that, just like Bethany, you can overcome your fears too.”