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Leaving Gee's Bend

Friday, January 08, 2010

I've been wanting to tell you about this book for months now.
Leaving Gee's Bend
...but the publisher put it under embargo (meaning they send you a review copy months or weeks early but you can't publish what you think about it) until the actual release date. Well, it was 'released' yesterday so it's now available in most good local independent booksellers as well as huge sellers like Amazon. And now I can say...

Leaving Gee's Bend is a fantastic little book.

It's published by Putnam Juvenile so it's not overly complicated for a middle schooler to grasp, and for adults it's a quick (230 pages), easy read. Now, I never read Harry Potter (to tell the truth, I'm not a big fan of fiction in the first place) but wasn't that really geared toward younger readers, when parents found out what great books they were, and it took off from there? I'm not saying this is Harry Potter, but you know what I mean! I guess I mean to say that it reaches a broad audience.

This is how the publisher describes it:
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.

There was one part that had me wondering...the book is set in 1932 - armadillos are mentioned. One of you out there will tell me for certain: I don't think armadillos made their way to Alabama until much, much, much later. Is that right?

Two more things:
There is a discussion guide for the book here at the website of the author - Irene Latham.

If you're in central Alabama, a release party is being held at the North Shelby Library on Sunday, January 10th and not only will Irene be there, but Mary Ann and China Pettway will be displaying a Gee's Bend quilt. Lovely!

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