Saturday, April 24, 2010

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham
Publication Date/Version: January 2010/Hardcover
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Received From: Other Shelf Tours (Thanks!)

A young girl sets out to save her sick mother and records her adventures in quilt pieces.

Ludelphia Bennett may be blind in one eye, but she can still put in a good stitch. Ludelphia sews all the time, especially when things go wrong.

But when Mama goes into labor early and gets deathly ill, it seems like even quilting won’t help. That’s when Ludelphia decides to do something drastic—leave Gee’s Bend for the very first time. Mama needs medicine that can only be found miles away in Camden. But that doesn’t stop Ludelphia. She just puts one foot in front of the other. What ensues is a wonderful, riveting and sometimes dangerous adventure. Ludelphia weathers each challenge in a way that would make her mother proud, and ends up saving the day for her entire town.

Set in 1932 and inspired by the rich quilting history of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, Leaving Gee’s Bend is a delightful, satisfying story of a young girl facing a brave new world.

Ludelphia Bennett, only ten years old and blind in one eye, must set out on a dangerous journey to save her mom. After giving birth to another daughter, Ludelphia's mom is sick. The only medicine available is miles away from Gee's Bend, their hometown. Ludelphia sets off to get the medicine and save her mom, often coming across difficulties that slow her down. Quilting plays an integral part in the story, offering Ludelphia solace and hope.

Leaving Gee's Bend is a great example of YA Historical Fiction. It offers a glimpse into the past regarding a rather historical event, turning it into an exciting page-turner of a read. The prose is rich and authentic, making a wonderful atmosphere. Ms. Latham has created a stunning and eloquent debut novel.

Ludelphia is a girl with wisdom beyond her years. She is smart, resourceful, and determined. She makes a good role model for all young girls. There was no aspect of her character that I didn't enjoy. Her journey was tough, but she persevered and was, ultimately, courageous and inspiring. She has become one of my favorite historical characters.

The plot was exciting and memorable. You learned something, but it was never boring. The journey was a whole was complicated and difficult, but worth it in the end. I couldn't believe some of the things that happened to poor Ludelphia, but she somehow survived.

I really can't say enough about Leaving Gee's Bend besides that fact that it's charming, stunning, and a great debut.

Overall: A great debut. Perfect example of YA historical fiction. Lovely main character. Memorable story. Stunning.

My Advice: Buy it. I can't wait to have my own copy.

Cover: I really like it. Love the title font and the quilt like aspects. The picture is very expressive of the novel and accurately portrays Ludelphia and her surroundings.

*This was read as a part of the 2010 Debut Author Challenge and the 100+ Reading Challenge


  1. Hi McKenzie - thanks so much for your lovely review! Ludelphia is quite the gal, isn't she? I'm so honored you took the time to meet her. Thanks for making my night!

  2. Sounds interesting... even to someone who's getting a bit old for young adult books! :)

  3. Great review! I'm adding to my list!

  4. This sounds great I'm putting this on my reading list!

  5. I'm so glad to hear that this book is good. I need more historical fiction in my classroom bookshelves.

  6. Hi McKenzie - thanks so much for this lovely review! If you'll send me your snailmail address to irene at irenelatham dot com, I'd love to send you a little something "Gee's Bend." Happy reading!

  7. You have very nice reviews and this book looks very good. Since I like your blog, I have an award for you.


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