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Kid Konnection: Leaving Gee’s Bend

October 2, 2010

Ludelphia Bennett lives in Gee’s Bend, Alabama in the early 1930’s – right in the middle of the Great Depression.  Gee’s Bend is a small, poor, isolated black community in west central Alabama – they have to cross the Alabama River to get to Camden, the closest town of any size.   Lu’s mother is sick and pregnant, and one day, while Lu is alone with her, she goes into labor.  Not knowing what else to do, Lu gets help from Etta Mae, who some are calling a witch now that she’s returned to Gee’s Bend.

The baby is fine, but Lu’s mother is not – she’s weak and she’s coughing up blood.  Etta Mae claims the only one who can help her is Doc Nelson and he’s all the way over in Camden.  Lu’s never been out of Gee’s Bend, but can’t talk anyone else into making the trip to Camden, so she decides it’s up to her to save her mother.  Lu embarks on her journey and discovers a whole new world and a danger to her beloved community.  She’s got to figure out a way to get back so she can save her mother and Gee’s Bend.

I thought Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham was a wonderful middle grade novel.  Ludelphia is the perfect narrator for this story – she’s spunky and curious and she loves her family.  Her voice is authentic and I think young readers will relate to her spark and her strength and enjoy the thrills and the mystery in the book.  I loved the way Lu felt such a connection to the heritage of Gee’s Bend – quilting – and the way her quilting was woven through the story.

Although the characters are fictional, the story in this book is based on a real event, so the author used surnames that are common in Gee’s Bend, even today.  I was lucky enough to see an exhibit of the Quilts of Gee’s Bend when we lived in Auburn, so I was familiar with this story going into the book and I think Latham did a fantastic job writing it for young readers.  If you ever have the opportunity to see these quilts, I strongly suggest you do, but first, read Leaving Gee’s Bend.

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
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23 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2010 7:39 am

    Sounds like such a good book. The Gee’s Bend quilt exhibit visited my city several years ago. I saw it and bought a book about the story of the quilts. Really great.

  2. October 2, 2010 7:50 am

    This sounds wonderful! I had heard of it, but didn’t realize what it was about.

  3. October 2, 2010 7:53 am

    I have never heard of the quilt, but apparently it travels so maybe it will come our way. Sounds like a wonderful read.

  4. October 2, 2010 8:32 am

    I just love this book too! I really liked how she collected little bits to sew into her quilt as she went along!

  5. October 2, 2010 9:33 am

    I think it’s important to read books that open up a whole new world to my children. I will definitely look into getting this one for my daughter. Thanks for this great review!

  6. October 2, 2010 9:35 am

    I would love to read this one. I hope you know I just substituted Ala. for NY since it was a Southern conference. I do hate missing Fannie Flagg. She’s great.

  7. October 2, 2010 10:35 am

    I have this one in my pile and I just know I’d love it. Great review and thanks for sharing.

  8. October 2, 2010 10:42 am

    This sounds like a wonderful read and you wrote a great review! I’ll definitely add this to my TBR list for the upcoming read-a-thon.

  9. October 2, 2010 12:57 pm

    This sounds like something I would love. I have a closet full of children’s books that I just can’t let go of (I say for my grandkids, but probably really for me) and every once in a while I will buy a new one to add to the closet. I just might order this one.

  10. October 2, 2010 3:21 pm

    Great review and enjoyed watching the video. Going to look it up to read more on this little bit of history. Thanks for opening up a whole new world again.

  11. October 2, 2010 4:27 pm

    I’m a quilter (or used to be) and love the Gees Bend quilts. There was an exhibit up here as well, at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and I got the big book of them as a gift once. Wonderful, and a fascinating story. Great review- I’m going to have to break my usual rule of not reading quilt-related fiction and look for this.

  12. October 2, 2010 4:39 pm

    It does sound like a good story for kids 🙂

  13. October 2, 2010 5:20 pm

    Kathy, you were so lucky to see the quilts! This book sounds quite good. Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

  14. October 2, 2010 7:33 pm

    I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds good. Hope u r enjoying the weekend Kathy.

  15. October 3, 2010 6:47 am

    I like the sound of this one. I’m going to have to check it out.

  16. October 3, 2010 5:35 pm

    When I saw your post about Gee’s Bend I saw the connection. But took awhile those senior moments are getting to me. But Our museum in Myrtle Beach, just had a exhibit on the life of members in the community of Gee’s Bend. The quilts, the culture. It was very interesting to take scraps of anything to make quilts and the area did not have access to leave the area. Thanks for the post. I am going to look for this book.

  17. October 3, 2010 7:51 pm

    I also am really interested in depression-era books, and bet that this would be a great book to share with my daughter. The synopsis that you provided is very enticing, and I have to admit, so is the focus on quilting. I am so glad that you enjoyed it. I will have to grab a copy!

  18. givingreadingachance permalink
    October 4, 2010 5:28 am

    Sounds good! I love the books featured in this section 🙂

  19. October 4, 2010 4:39 pm

    I’ve heard such great things about this book I have to add it to my TBR. 🙂

  20. October 4, 2010 5:32 pm

    This one sounds really good, I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled for a copy.

  21. October 5, 2010 1:42 pm

    Will add to my pile,sounds good, Thanks!

  22. October 6, 2010 7:55 pm

    This is so good for my American Journey Challenge. I have a thing for Alabama and Georgia, so this is definitely a must-read for me. Thanks for the review, Kathy. I like the storyline.

  23. October 9, 2010 10:46 pm

    I have been meaning to check this out. My mom is related to the Gee’s Bend quilters.

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