“…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.
The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis
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.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4
Title: The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis
Author: Elle Thornton
Genre: Literary Fiction /Family Saga
Narrator: Lindsey Gast
Published by: Self-Produced, Self-Published
Published on: 31 August, 2014
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Audio Length: 3 Hours: 22 minutes
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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.
A copy of this title was provided via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.