Leaving Gee’s Bend
Ten-year-old Ludelphia Bennett has never left Gee’s Bend, a sharecropping village on the Alabama River. But her mother is deathly ill and Ludelphia feels it is her fault, having let an accused witch tend to Mama while she gave birth to baby Rose. So, with just her sewing needle, thread and a few scrap patches in the pocket of her apron, Ludelphia sets out for the closest town to ask the white doctor for help. Quilting calms her when there is trouble, and Ludelphia feels the need to quilt a lot in her time away from Gee’s Bend. But when trouble follows Ludelphia back to her beloved home, she puts away her stitching things and finds the strength in herself to drive trouble back.
This is a sweet story about an impoverished, disfigured girl whose inner strength will inspire young readers. Leaving Gee’s Bend would make a great classroom book, as Irene Latham has included so many teaching points such as the Great Depression, the Red Cross, sharecropping, quilting, and health care.
Ludelphia Bennett is a 10-year-old girl growing up in the little village of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. With one blind eye, she works with her needle and patches of cloth on quilts, knowing that each quilt tells a story. Ludelphia’s mother, who has lost three newborn babies, is pregnant and is desperate not to give birth to her baby too early. When the baby is born, Ludelphia’s mother falls deathly ill, and everyone tells Ludelphia that there is nothing she can do but wait. Ludelphia has a different plan in mind; she sets off to Camden, the town across the river, to find Doc Nelson, a white doctor who might be able to help. On her journey, Ludelphia runs into Mrs. Cobb, the woman everybody says is merciless, who bathes and feeds Ludelphia and takes her for a ride in her motorcar to see Doc Nelson. Ludelphia discovers that it’s all a scheme, and Mrs. Cobb wants to turn her in. When Ludelphia finds the doctor, she receives the terrible news that he can’t help her. With Mrs. Cobb threatening with her shotgun and her mother dying, what will Ludelphia do?
I enjoyed Leaving Gee’s Bend very much. The story kept my interest. I liked how Irene Latham got into the whole Alabama accent and made her characters realistic. She described Gee’s Bend and all of Ludelphia’s actions skillfully. It all comes together in the end very well which made the story very satisfying. Although the descriptions of her mother’s sickness were disturbing to read, all in all, I’d give this story five stars.