Karen's Reviews > Leaving Gee's Bend

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham
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's review
Sep 12, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

I read this book because I saw the exhibit of the quilts made by the women of Gee's Bend at the Art Museum in Houston, TX. According to Wikipedia, Gee's Bend is a "poverty-stricken African-American community in a large bend of the Alabama River in Wilcox County, Alabama." The women of the community have been recycling fabric into quilts for generations. When an item of clothing was too worn to wear, it was cut up to be reused. They made those quilts from whatever they had, and they had very little.

Irene Hunt has written a book for younger readers that tells the story of Ludelphia Bennett, a native of Gee's Bend, who has never been anywhere except where she is. Ludelphia likes to sew, and has learned how to make a quilt. When her mother becomes deathly ill with pneumonia, Ludelphia decides she must go to Camden, the nearest town, to get a doctor, rather than accept the dire prognosis of the local healer. When the going gets tough, it is the quilt squares in her pocket that give her comfort and courage, for she is making the quilt for her mother.

I think this would be a good book for young people to read to gain an understanding of what life was like in 1930's in Alabama. I think they might be surprised to know how much responsibility was placed on children of those times. They weren't hauled around to dance class or treated to fries at MacDonald's. Life was hard, and everyone in the family had to pull together in order to survive.

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