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Posted April 26, 2013
Not your run of the mill YA book.
With all of the "boy meets girl" and fantasy YA books out there, it is always refreshing to find a book that deals with a more serious issue. The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis by Elle Thorntonis just such a book. Gabrielle Winter is 13, and like many 13-year-olds, she is not sure of her place in the world. Complicating matters is the fact that Gabrielle is spending the summer at an Army base in North Caroline where her father, a general, is stationed. It is the summer of 1957 and racial tensions in the area are high.
This book was an excellent, easy read. Elle Thorton does an great job of capturing the angst of a 13-year-old trying to define who they are in the world. In the character of Gabrielle, she balances just the right amount of insecurity and exploration. For me,though, it was Gabrielle's naivete of the racial tensions that were prevalent in the South at this time that was the best part of her character. I really liked the way that Ms. Thorton used that naivete to explore the issue of race relations in the 1950s South. I thought that this exploration was done with thoughtfulness and care, exhibiting a good balance of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If I had one complaint about the book, it would be that the author did not go into enough depth on the subject. I am aware that the target audience for this book is the middle school crowd, of which I am not a member, but even so, I felt that Ms. Thorton could have fleshed the subject out just a bit more. As it is, she touches on many subjects that will hopefully entice the young minds to explore the subject further, and that is a plus with me. I would class this book as an excellent read for the 11 - 14 age crowd. In addition, I would suggest that parents read along with their middle schoolers and perhaps use this book as a jumping off point for discussion. As such, I think this book is an excellent choice and am giving it 4 stars
This book was provided by the author in return from my review.
Posted June 30, 2012
In this tender, coming-of-age tale about true friendship, a young girl grapples with a missing mother, a distant father, and the harsh realities of racism. Set in the rural south of 1957, the story had the poignancy of "Because of Winn Dixie" and a touch of "To Kill a Mockingbird." But Thornton’s finely spun masterpiece is all her own. The prose was exquisite and evocative, capturing Gabriella's outer and inner world. The characters were sharply drawn with a deft hand. In fact, this was one of those rare books that hook you in largely on the power of the characters. The main players were full and round, the minor characters provided just the right support for the unfolding events.
Thornton kept the tale squarely where it should be: On Gabriella. All the yearnings of a girl on the verge of womanhood are rendered, but most especially, yearnings of the heart. By allowing the story to mirror reality, the tale became universal, holding higher truths about the bigness of life.
Most of all, this haunting, unforgettable tale did what all great stories do: It pulled on my heartstrings.