The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis

The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis

by Elle Thornton


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Nearly everything important in twelve-year-old Gabriella's life that summer of 1957 can be traced to the river. On the North Carolina military base where she lives, she meets the African-American Marine Hawkins by the river's brown-green water. Hawkins, a servant in the kitchen of her father's quarters, becomes her swim coach and a person she can talk with--even about the tragedy of the youth Emmett Till: despite brutal beatings, Emmett Till refused to say what his racist murderers wanted--that he wasn't as good as them. In The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis, Emmett comes to life in Gabriella's heart while Hawkins teaches her to swim.

At the river Hawkins helps her find her strength. Emmett helps her find her heart.

Emmett had been murdered for whistling at a white woman. Could her friendship with Hawkins endanger the tough Marine? It doesn't seem possible. Until a sudden storm on the river changes Gabriella's life-forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466431683
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 03/14/2012
Pages: 166
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.35(d)

About the Author

My background as the daughter of a career Marine and my professional experience as a newspaper reporter and technical writer helped prepare me to write The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis. In working on the book, I've learned that few works of fiction exist in the middle-grade/young adult category about military families or military history.

I only knew Emmett Till's name from the Bob Dylan song, "Ballad of Emmett Till," until one of my African-American students mentioned the name to me: Something in my student's eyes and voice told me I needed to find out about Emmett. I am very grateful to say that I did. Since then I've learned that adults and young people of different racial backgrounds, even African-Americans, do not know the name or story of Emmett Till.

Ultimately, while my background prepared me to actually write the story, nothing prepared me for the emotional impact of writing about Emmett Till. During the writing, he's become part of me: as I see it, this is the true gift from having written The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis.

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The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
AudioBook Review:  Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story  4 “...I ask him if he knows the name Emmett Till.”  That one sentence exemplifies the growth and awareness brought to a 12 year old girl, daughter of a military officer, motherless and wandering around somewhat aimlessly one summer in late 1950’s North Carolina.  Reminiscent on many levels to the title To Kill a Mockingbird, the parallels are clear: a young female protagonist learning that life is complex and multi-layered, a single father, traditions and attitudes in flux, and one person, or people who refute what ‘everyone’ knows simply by their proximity to Gabriella.   The narrative voice in this story is solid and clear, even with Gabriella’s confusion and questions with all she believes she knows, all she is learning, and the questions and concepts that are just beyond her comprehension, this becomes a well-defined story of growth and acknowledging the world around you, while trying to build your new voice that will gain notice from a rather distant father.  As the summer progresses, Gabriella is learning to swim at the river: while her efforts to win the swim meet is not controversial, her coach in swimming and in her awakening to the broader issues of the world happens to be an African American man, assigned as  houseman and cook for she and her father.  The importance of the river, the swimming, the struggle to gain her father’s approval all mix with imaginings and questions, showing us all that answers are not always what we want to hear, or think we need at the time.    Narration in this story is provided by Lindsey Gast, and she manages to grasp the ‘sound’ of a 12 year old girl without sounding cartoonish or being a vocal caricature, and uses that sense of the character of Gabriella to inform her every thought.  Other characters are presented with small changes in pitch, tone and depth of accent, and are clearly indicative of the characters in age and gender.  An easy story to listen to, the name of Emmet Till may be a new one for some, but the issues that are revealed in this story are timeless and some are eerily relevant in the consideration of current events.  I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the publisher via AudioBook Jukebox. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
lsmeadows More than 1 year ago
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.
bard-jongleur More than 1 year ago
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.