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Shark Girl (Shark Girl #1)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  2,499 ratings  ·  426 reviews
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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Candlewick Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Crank by Ellen HopkinsImpulse by Ellen HopkinsIdentical by Ellen HopkinsBurned by Ellen HopkinsGlass by Ellen Hopkins
Novels in Verse
57th out of 238 books — 560 voters
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyLooking for Alaska by John GreenSpeak by Laurie Halse AndersonThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Best Teen Books About Real Problems
424th out of 2,048 books — 11,009 voters

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Community Reviews

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roger daltrey may not get fooled again, but for me, it happens time after time.

dear books, please tell me when you are going to be poetry.

this is Family all over again.

this is a book about a girl who loses an arm to a shark attack. A SHARK ATTACK!! this has "me" written all over it! not because i have lost an arm to a shark attack (although it would explain my atrocious typing) - i would never go near the ocean. and why?? because of al
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
What I really liked about this novel in verse is how it showed that Jane had to redefine herself, to remake herself, after her accident. She had to learn to accept herself before others could accept her, and she had to be willing to explore new options. I read it all in one sitting--couldn't put it down! This would make a great discussion book.
Shark Girl, a book by Kelly Bingham, tells the story of a young girl who is struggling to regain her life after being attacked by a shark, and losing her arm.
On a sunny day at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen year old Jane Arrowood’s life would change forever. While going for a swim alone she is attacked by a shark, luckily her brother spotted her and was able to get her to the hospital. Although lucky to be alive, Jane doesn’t want to face the fact that her arm is gone forever. She
Stephanie A.
The minute I saw this book I was hooked on its premise; I couldn't wait to read something that dealt with the aftermath of a shark attack. I didn't flip through the pages before I checked it out of the library, though, and as soon as I opened it I was disappointed to see that it was written largely in poems. I read it anyway, because I still wanted to know what happened. But this is the last book I will ever read in that format, because when most of your lines don't even cross the page, this sty ...more
I was interested in reading this book because my students read a story about Bethany Hamilton (mentioned in this book) at the beginning of every school year. I thought, since they're always interested in knowing more about Bethany and what she went through, this would be a good book to recommend.

It is... kind of. Jane must go through quite a bit of what Bethany does: dealing with the faces, the concern, the random notes and gifts, the helicopter nurses and doctors, the therapy, the self-pity and
Christy Rosso
Christy Rosso
Genre: Novel in Verse
Bingham, K. (2007). Shark girl. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Format: Print
Selection process: NoveList

Jane Arrowood, aged 15, is the victim of a shark attack in this novel in verse by Kelly Bingham set in California. Jane quickly becomes known as “Shark Girl” after she loses her arm to a shark while swimming at a local beach near her Santa Clarita home. Jane’s brother Michael saves her life, creating a tourniquet and carrying her to s
Jane (15) is an artist, but she loses her arm when she is attacked by a shark while swimming. Her brother rescues her, and she falls into a coma. After she wakes up, she finds that her arm has been amputated above the elbow. It takes her weeks to heal after the operation, and the ordeal changes her forever. She can’t stop thinking about the man who stood on the beach recording the whole incident with his video camera as it happened – that he watched, that he did nothing to help her, that he late ...more
Jen Knotek
The story Shark Girl first caught my eye when I saw that the whole book was written as if the characters were talking in verse. The story is told from the point of view of a fifteen-year-old girl named Jane, who was bitten on the arm by a shark and eventually had to get her arm amputated. While in the hospital, and still as she was out, she received multiple emails, cards and phone calls expressing the other person’s sympathy for her and sometimes even their own stories. During her time at the ...more
L11-Mary Utterback
This is not a genre that I am typically drawn to, but I thought this story sounded very interesting. This story is about a 15 year old girl named Jane Arrowood. She is on the beach one day with her brother and her mother and she decides to take a swim. Little did she know that this decision would change her life forever.

Shortly after entering the water she is attacked by a shark. She ends up in the hospital and has to have her arm amputated. This story is told in free verse and authentically ca
Abby Johnson
This novel in verse tells the story of Jane, an artistic high schooler whose life changes completely when she loses her right arm in a shark attack. A bystander videotapes the event and it's shown on the news. Suddenly strangers from all over the country are sending her cards and flowers, acting like they're her new best friend, like they understand her. In reality, Jane shrinks from all the attention and seems to abandon the things that gave her joy before the accident. Little things like crack ...more
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I would not call this book a lot of things: I would not call it Novel in Verse; I would not call it inspirational or affecting; I would not call it finely crafted or artistic; I would not call it a Young Adult Novel, even. I could see that this two-hour-or-less and you're done reading a 250+ page book might be popular for a while among young readers because of its subject matter of dealing with a life's rarer hardship and that nothing in the book offends anyone's senses by being too gorey or two ...more
Jan 28, 2010 Cindy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: teens
Have you ever wanted to be famous? 15-year-old Jane thought she did, until in a moment, her life is changed forever. During a seemingly normal day at the beach, Jane is the victim of a shark attack. Although she survives, due to the severity of the attack, her right arm is amputated. Jane struggles to move on and is trying to forget that fateful day, but the attack is caught on tape, so it is played over and over again on TV. She is an instant celebrity, but does she really want to be known as t ...more
Oct 12, 2009 Anna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This one surprised me. I loved it. I even cried. I really did.

This is a very well-written story of a girl who loses her arm in a shark attack. It's a novel-in-verse and I think that was the perfect format. The main character, Jane, is so incredibly real. She's angry, yes, but she's not bitter the whole time, and I love the way the author illustrates her growth and adjustment over time. She's the perfect protagonist in the sense that I think you're able to empathize with her big time. And this b
A pretty good book; it is written in free-verse poetry with conversations between the main character and other characters to create a very unique style of book. The actual story was pretty good, although I felt like the author could have done something else to have it not echo the Bethany Hamilton story so much. Although there are major differences between the two, one, the girl in this book does not surf, and two, she lives in California instead of Hawaii. Also, I really enjoyed the new movie " ...more
"None of us knew,
None of us know now.
Life is what it is,
at any second.
A snapshot.
Nothing more.


the trick is learning
to live the moment
celebrating our

the freedom

of not knowing."

-Shark Girl
I read this while oceanside in Florida. Fortunately, it did not turn me off from swimming in the sea. I did not expect it to be written in free verse poetry, which made it a quick, easy read. I thought it would cover a longer period of time as the victim healed from the accident, but it really looks more at her stay in the hospital and her initial adjustments to life. The strongest part of the book was how she learned through her friendship with a spirited young boy (who had lost his leg in an a ...more
Jul 15, 2015 SparklingRuby20 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes books about making peace with a tragedy.
Great book. It is also a poetry book, so a fast read.
No one expected that 15-year-old Jane Arrowood's trip to the beach with her brother would end in a tragic shark attack and the loss of Jane's right arm. Jane was lucky; she had nearly died. But she didn't feel lucky, and the outpouring of public support and family encouragement only made her feel worse. Her future dreams of pursuing art had been crushed and she didn't feel nearly as brave or optimistic as everyone seemed to expect. In verse novel form, this book tells the story of Jane's struggl ...more
Hannah Walker
The authors purpose in writing this book, Shark Girl, is to tell the reader that no matter what happens in life, you can always bounce back. the girl in this book went through a life threatening experience. She didn't know if she was going to be able to do the one thing she loved the most, surf. She than bounced back from her experience and was able to surf again. The author wanted to tell the reader that if you had a bad experience happen in you life, you will be able to bounce back.

The theme o
Alexis Maldonado
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Surprisingly effective.

Bingham flat out nails some details throughout:
-The bit about PT people wearing collared sports shirts and big silver wristwatches.
-Hating people staring at you all the while knowing that you used to be one of them
-Conversations with yourself
-Feeling useless for not accomplishing a simple task (yeah I teared up during the garbage scene) or being overpraised for an insignificant level of help
-That it gets to your family, too
-That a kid just runs with whatever deal you go
Chelsy Sumner
I thought the start of Shark Girl wasn't the best because the author should have stared with what was happing before the attack and when the attacked happen not right when she's at the hospital waking up from a coma. I just wish that she started with what was going on that day and not dive right into it. But once the book started to get going it was good.

Personally I liked how it slowly started to become normal and not just go back to the person she used to be. I liked how they included notes f
Jackie Perez
Shark girl is written by Kelly Bingham and is about a fifteen year old girl named Jane Arrowood. Jane goes swimming on June 21 in a California beach, where she gets attacked by a shark. The doctors agreed to amputate her right arm, which led to her dreams of being a professional artist beat. News articles were written about Jane's attack and received letters from strangers. She met a young boy named Justin, who got his leg amputated after a car crash, and become close friends. Justin wants her ...more


Soooooooo good!!!!!!!!

You totally relate to Jane (as much as is possible, anyhow) and understand how it must feel.

It's amazingly well-written.


This is a beautiful book. I did not read it, I savored it. My hope is that kids will grab up this book when they see that there are not that many words on the page (it is mostly written in verse)and discover what can be done with the English language. Bingham transmits her wonderful powers of observation into the perfect choice of words, and crafts this story of loss and change into one that is not so much read as felt. Warning: some PG language.
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
A good, quick read. The entire thing is written in poetry/conversations/letters so it goes by pretty fast. But really it wouldn't make a difference if it was written in poetry or pros, because it would sound the same either way... Anyway, other than that, the story was over all good and believable. I felt like the end wasn't really satisfactory; it felt like there were still a few issues that were never really resolved. But over all, it was pretty good.
Tricia Joganich
Jane Arrowood, a talented young artist, went to the beach one day in June just to go for a swim; when in the water the shark attacked her and bit off her right arm. The doctors had to amputate her arm above the elbow; Jane spent several weeks in the hospital with her friend Justin who lost his leg. Once she went back to her house, her brother had to leave to college in a few weeks, her mom was doing all of the work, and Jane couldn't do anything. The doctors gave Jane a fake arm so it could help ...more
Shark girl is about Jane, a fifteen year old girl who is an aspiring artist. Over the summer in a fatal shark attack she lost her dominate arm, and her dreams of being an artist are completely crushed. After long and hard physical therapy, Jane is released and put back into the real world. She is also given an opportunity to have a prosthetic arm, but Jane can`t draw in it. When school starts again June struggles constantly with fitting in and feeling normal. No one treats Jane normal anymore, ...more
Jun 19, 2010 Ayla rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone!
'Twas amazing. Awesome story, great, unforgettable characters, witty writing and loads of emotion.
The only problem was that the verse was very blunt and it skipped lines in what seemed like random places, but this really didn't mess up the awesomeness that is Shark Girl at all, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
I LOVED this book! I started it and finished it all on the same night. It is so well written, and the voice and emotion of the main character is so real. Kelly Bingham uses newspaper articles, journal entries, and letters in her book. I hightly recommend this book! It doesn't hurt that it's a super quick read.
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wonderings 1 4 Oct 08, 2014 06:14PM  
JPL YA Reading Ch...: Verse novel: Shark Girl 1 3 Apr 23, 2013 06:07AM  
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Kelly Bingham is the author of the award-winning novel Shark Girl as well as Z Is for Moose, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Recipient of an MFA in writing for children and young adults, Kelly Bingham lives in Georgia.
More about Kelly Bingham...

Other Books in the Series

Shark Girl (2 books)
  • Formerly Shark Girl
Z Is for Moose Circle, Square, Moose Formerly Shark Girl

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