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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.
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What made the experience of listening to The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis the most enjoyable?
The unassuming power of the characters as they grow, physically and socially, through a tumultuous era.
Which scene was your favorite?
When Gabriella and Hawkins come across the epitome of a racist in the backwoods of North Carolina, who also happens to be a police officer, the tension and unsung heroism in the scene is palpable. Oddly enough, it is a perfect blend of love, strength, bravery and patriotism.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?