First off, I edit for Teen Eyes Editorial and they have this awesome contest going on where you can win an in-depth 15K critique from yours truly! The other editors (Brent and Julie) have amazing contests going on as well, but you only have a few hours left to enter!
It’s Shark Week. If you know what that means, it means staring slack-jawed at the TV ogling shark attacks all day, at least for my mom. I find her at the computer reading articles about shark attacks and underwater discoveries. She’s had Deep Blue Sea, Jaws, Jaws 2, Jaws 3, Shark Night. She even watches those horrible B-list shark movies on Netflix. It’s not just shark attacks; it’s just sharks in general. She’s fascinated by them – she has an absolute obsession with them.
The inspiration for this actually came for me at the beach, and ironically, I’m leaving for the beach tomorrow. I love beach reads, especially ones with gorgeous underwater scenes.
So here are a few YA reads y’all might be interested in that feature sharks.
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
A teenager struggles through physical loss to the start of acceptance in an absorbing, artful novel at once honest and insightful, wrenching and redemptive.
On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything — absolutely everything — changed. Now she’s counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm, where she knows kids will whisper, “That’s her — that’s Shark Girl,” as she passes. In the meantime there are only questions: Why did this happen? Why her? What about her art? What about her life? In this striking first novel, Kelly Bingham uses poems, letters, telephone conversations, and newspaper clippings to look unflinchingly at what it’s like to lose part of yourself – and to summon the courage it takes to find yourself again.
This is perhaps the most prominent shark story out there for me – it’s free verse and absolutely captivating. Kelly Bingham does a beautiful job of stringing together journal entries, poems, newspaper articles chronicling the emotional journey of a fifteen-year old shark attack victim dealing with the aftermath.
It’s short and brutal and also sweet at times. It definitely seems like one of the most realistic portrayals of anything like this – I couldn’t even imagine going through anything like this. Jane was unsure about how precarious the rest of her life seemed, and what people were saying, and what ifs that haunted her. What if she hadn’t gone in the water that day? What if she went in a different spot, or it was somebody else? What would happen to her art? It’s a quick, emotional read.
It’s bittersweet and moving, thoughtful and raw.
They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing—not even the loss of her arm—could come between her and the waves? That Halloween morning in Kauai, Hawaii, Bethany responded to the shark’s stealth attack with the calm of a girl with God on her side. Pushing pain and panic aside, she began to paddle with one arm, focusing on a single thought: “Get to the beach….” And when the first thing Bethany wanted to know after surgery was “When can I surf again?” it became clear that her spirit and determination were part of a greater story—a tale of courage and faith that this soft-spoken girl would come to share with the world.
Soul Surfer is a moving account of Bethany’s life as a young surfer, her recovery after the attack, the adjustments she’s made to her unique surfing style, her unprecedented bid for a top showing in the World Surfing Championships, and, most fundamentally, her belief in God. It is a story of girl power and spiritual grit that shows the body is no more essential to surfing—perhaps even less so—than the soul.
This book is really touching. While Jane’s story was a lot more about the emotional turmoil and the dark parts of losing a limb, Bethany’s story focuses on the healing power of God and how she overcame obstacles through her passion for surfing. A lovely memoir with very clear writing, Soul Surfer is really a joy to read.
It’s not written in the style that the movie is filmed – instead of writing chronologically, it jumps around to show specific incidents when Bethany’s faith or the incident with the shark really impacted her life. I loved reading about her passion for surfing and how her family and love for the sport kept her from being bitter about what happened.
If you’re looking for a book that makes you purely grateful for everything and convinced of His grace, definitely read this one! It’s soft-spoken and joyful.
the Dive series by Gordon Korman
Sharks, shipwreck, and sunken treasure in the latest adventure trilogy from Gordon Korman.
Four kids are on a marine expedition for the summer, diving to explore an underwater habitat that’s just been altered by a seismic event. What they find, though, is much more than fish – it’s sunken treasure. Can they salvage it without anyone else getting to it first? Will the prospect of wealth set them against one another? And what about those sharks . . . .DIVE is another action-packed trilogy from Gordon Korman. The narrative will shift between an account of two kids caught in the shipwreck and the story of the four kids fighting over and desperately trying to get the treasure.
Gordon Korman’s books are very well researched and that makes them a true gem. He has this pure style of writing intricate characters with complicated motives for the projects that they undertake. It’s dangerous and shows a lot of the harsh reality of the challenges that they face, but it’s excellent. Well-written with an eye for detail, the Dive series is not to be missed.
It’s actually pretty freaky reading about the dangers and complication of diving. Many books romanticize it but this book definitely does not; there are beautiful images in the book, but the brutality of certain things are not glossed over. It’s really interesting how much was built behind each mechanism and motivation in the book.
It’s action-packed and suspenseful, while also cinematic in its underwater scenes. The level of description is clear, but microscopic details enhance the story so well. If you’re looking for an adventurous series with chilling twists, check out the Dive series by Gordon Korman.
(Note: Gordon Korman was actually one of the people who first inspired me to do what I do – he came to my school when I was in 3rd grade and was so incredibly passionate about what he did – he got so excited when he talked about what he did that I really credit him for a lot of my passion growing up before I discovered the publishing/blogging world.)
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma’s gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . .
Told from both Emma and Galen’s points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.
I really loved this book. It was suspenseful at the right times, bubbly, and just a book that I could completely relax into while still being tense enough to be engaged. When Emma’s best friend is attacked by a shark and killed, she doesn’t connect it to anything else until Galen shows up again. Through clumsy discoveries of her power and hidden lineage, Emma is plunged into the world of the Syrena.
First of all, I have an addiction to mermaid books. If it has mermaids in it, I’m a dozen times more likely to read it. Of Poseidon was witty and clearly written, unpredictable and luminous. Emma’s quirky and Galen is magnetic. I loved the mood – it’s perfectly suited to the beach – and I was not expecting any of the plot twists that Anna Banks threw at us throughout the narrative.
Clear, tense, and absorbing, Of Poseidon is a standout in beach reads.
I hope y’all enjoyed! Have any others to add to the list?