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Nearly everything important in twelve-year-old Gabriella's life that summer of 1957 can be traced to the river. The African-American Marine Hawkins helps her find her strength when he teaches her to swim there. In the river the murdered youth Emmett Till comes to life and helps her find her heart.Yet as she swims toward young adulthood, it could all be lost. 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.




Military Writers Society of America, Bronze Medal YA Historical Fiction, 2013 (The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis)
Florida Writers Association, Royal Palm Literary Award First Place, Young Adult, 2009 (The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis)

Florida Writers Association, Royal Palm Literary Award First Place, General, 2014 (Babe)



Reviews of The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis


Goodreads, May 20, 2013
"Elle Thornton has written a novel . . . with memorable characters, a quickly moving plot, and a painfully accurate portrait of prejudice and intolerance in the South of 1957 . . . This is a book that should be on every junior high school and high school library shelf."--Reviewed by Mike Stevens, founder and lead moderator of the discussion group "On the Southern Literary Trail"
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The Los Angeles Review, July 6, 2012
"Thornton manages to balance the age and voice of the narrator with a lyric sensibility, as well as with subject matter that cuts to the strained and difficult issue of race in the segregated South." Reviewed by Renee K. Nicholson


Military Writers Society of America Book Review, June 2013
". . .a well written story . . . Thinking of the bravery displayed by young Emmett when he faced his killers motivates her to go to extra lengths to prove her worth to the general . . . [it] will delight anyone who enjoys a heartwarming story. . ."
Joe Epley, Board Member, MWSA



Elle Thornton’s mystery, Touch the  Dead, set on Florida's Northeast coast, is a semifinalist in the 2019 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary competition.