BOOK REVIEW: SHARK GIRL
Imagine you're enjoying a fun summer with your family at the beach, when suddenly you're attacked by a shark who bites off one of your arms and your life is changed forever. That's exactly what happens to fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowwood in Kelly Bingham's excellent and poignant book, Shark Girl. How would you cope with the loss, the stares, the well-meaning people who offer you condolences or mail you letters? How would you feel upon going back to school, wondering if the other students were staring at you, and perhaps pitying you?
Told in a series of poems by Jane, newspaper clippings, and through letters from people around the world who write her, Shark Girl is a book unlike any other which I've read in its dramatic intensity. I couldn't help but think how I personally would feel if something similar happened to my thirteen-year-old daughter. It is a remarkable story of succeeding despite all odds, and of coping with terrible circumstances that life can sometimes throw at you.
One of the worst aspects about the shark attack, other than the attack itself, is that a man on the beach filmed the entire attack as it happened. He's with his wife and kids, and instead of offering any help, he continues video taping what unfolds. He might not have been able to change anything that happens to Jane, but he doesn't even try to, and his tape later ends up playing on news stations everywhere. He exploits a tragic situation for his own selfish gains.
Jane meets a boy while she is recovering in the hospital, Joey, who has had one arm and one leg amputated because of cancer, who becomes a close friend of hers. She thinks if this boy can come through everything that he's had to face, then there's hope for her, also. It still won't be easy, but Joey and her mother and brother help give Jane the strength and hope to continue on with her recovery and life.
Shark Girl is guaranteed to pull at the heartstrings and to jerk tears from the stoutest hearts. It's a superb first novel from Walt Disney Feature Animation story artist and director Kelly Bingham. I can't wait to read more books from this talented author in the future, if they're anywhere close to being as good as this one is, and I highly recommend it to everyone.
REVIEWED BY DOUGLAS R. COBB
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