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Leaving Gee's Bend

Irene Latham

NewSouth Books
$11.95 paperback
5 ½ x 8 ½  
232 pages
March 2017

Ludelphia Bennett may be blind in one eye, but that doesn't mean she can't put in a good stitch. In fact, Ludelphia sews all the time, especially when things are going wrong. Sewing calms her nerves, and her quilts tell her story. 

But when Mama gets deathly ill, it doesn't seem like even quilting will help. Mama needs medicine badly — medicine that can only be found in Camden, over forty miles away. That's when Ludelphia decides to do something drastic — leave Gee's Bend.

Beyond the log cabins, orange dirt, and cotton fields of her small sharecropping community, Ludelphia discovers a world she could never have imagined. Fancy houses, cars, and even soda pop! But there's also danger lurking for a young girl on her own, and Ludelphia begins to wonder if she'll ever see Gee's Bend or her mama again. Despite the twists and turns, Ludelphia weathers each challenge in a way that would make her mama proud, and she may even save the day for not just Mama, but her entire town. 

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


  • Magnolia Award Nominee 
  • 2011 Alabama Library Association Children's Book of the Year
  • Crystal Kite Award Finalist
  • SIBA Book Award Finalist
  • Bank Street College Best Book
  • ALSC Notable Children's Book Nominee
  • Kentucky Bluegrass State Finalist
  • Top Ten Alabama Books List
  • IndieNext Kids List Spring 2010


“An accessible piece of historical fiction…numerous heart-stirring moments…a determined heroine.” 
Publishers Weekly
In this powerful novel...the anguish of the characters is felt by the reader, but one also feels the warmth of the quilts used as a metaphor for life in this time and place.
National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) 
"authentic and memorable"
"I love this story based on an historical event in Gee’s Bend. Author Irene Latham has pieced together snippets of the real event and the region’s now recognized unique style of quilting."
School Library Journal
"captivating...a tale that will stay with the reader forever."
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