Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

Soul Surfer

Soul SurferSoul Surfer is a delightful, inspirational family film for all ages. Based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a champion junior surfer, the movie chronicles her recovery from the loss of an arm after a potentially fatal shark attack when she was just thirteen years old. But through faith, hard work, and perseverance, she has recovered stronger than ever, winning her first national title just one year after the attack. Today, she is a professional women’s surfer who holds numerous titles and is an inspiration to many.

At first I was reluctant to see the movie because of my enormous dislike for sharks with large teeth and an appetite for attractive teenage girls in bikinis. Having grown up on the beaches of North Carolina, I spent many summers in the ocean, baking in the sun and pickling myself in the salt water. Occasionally, we would feel something swim past us, or step on something sharp and biting, and even encounter a stinging jellyfish from time to time, but there was no real concern for our safety, except for an unusually strong undertow that might suck a swimmer out to sea.

However, if you are like me and don’t want to be traumatized by another Hollywood rendition of a shark attack, rest easy, because the Soul Surfer filmmakers did an excellent job of staging the scene in a way that kept the viewers on the edge of their seats, yet didn’t have a high yuck or wince factor. Everything happened very fast and the quick reaction and fast-thinking of Bethany’s colleagues is what saved her life.

I especially liked the performances from the mother, played by Helen Hunt, and the dad, Dennis Quaid, seeing that they each displayed nurturing and protective qualities that were touching and heart-wrenching. Her two brothers manifested anger at the cruel blow life had thrown their way, and even Bethany’s best friend struggled with the guilt for having escaped harm and being blessed to live out a “normal life.” The bottom line—it was great to see the many different reactions to such a horrific tragedy.

But the most moving reaction is that of Bethany, played by AnnaSophia Robb. When asked in a documentary if she would continue with the sport, she looked at the interviewer with dismay and answered, “Oh, I’m going to surf!” And she did. She was back in the water just one month after the attack. One of my favorite lines from the film is when her best friend asks her if she is afraid to surf, and her response is, “I’m too afraid not to surf.”

Support from her spiritual leader, played by Carrie Underwood, and a touching mission trip to help tsunami victims are tender, teachable moments that further her tenacity and determination to succeed when others have written her off. It is when she learns that there is something greater in life than surfing that she is able to go back into the water and win. She no longer surfs to secure a championship but surfs because it is what she loves. Riding the waves is who she is—it is a gift God has given her, and she uses it to glorify Him.

In those dark moments right after the attack, when she fights the natural temptation to give up, her parents are there for her, holding on to the hope that she will make it through. While Mom gives love and affection, Dad helps alter her surfing technique and even designs a special handle on her board to assist in the maneuvering of waves, so that when she is ready to compete again, all is prepared. Isn’t that just like a dad?

He understands that if she can make it through this trial, she can make it through anything. What a valuable lesson this is for us parents as we help our kids maneuver through life. As this wonderful movie shows, our trials may reveal the weakness in our flesh, but then ultimately, the spirit in us rises up and gives us strength so that we can overcome and be victorious.

Enjoy the wonderful cinematography, the setting and story, the beauty and majesty of the ocean, and the timeless, true grit of a little girl who refuses to quit. You and your entire family won’t be disappointed.