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The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis is a coming-of-age story about twelve-year-old Gabriella Winter's life on a North Carolina military base in the segregated South during the summer of 1957. She finds her strength and she finds love when the Marine Hawkins teaches her to swim in the river behind her quarters. There, she also learns what evil is when the tragic story of the murdered youth Emmett Till becomes part of her heart.




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Elle Thornton’s book Touch the  Dead, set on Florida's Northeast coast, won a Gold medal (category: mystery or crime, unpublished) in the 2019 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary competition. In addition, Touch the Dead was named the FWA's 2nd Runner-Up Book of the Year.