The Free Motion Quilting Project: Leaving Gee's Bend

Monday, March 8, 2010

Leaving Gee's Bend

Lately I've really been trying to look at my life in a different perspective, to appreciate all the short, special moments that make my family special, and to enjoy the process of creating my quilts more than the finished product.

Going right along with this perspective, I've been trying to find books that focus on appreciating the abundance of life and love we have all around us.

So when I was emailed two weeks ago and asked to review a new book about family, love, and quilting, I jumped at the chance.

Leaving Gee's Bend was written by Irene Latham and it tells the story of a 10 year old girl called Ludelphia living in Gee's Bend, Alabama in 1932.

What I like most about this book is how well written it is and how much quilting plays a part in it. Throughout the book, Ludelphia's love for quilting runs like a constant thread, patching the story together piece by piece.

Many times I've picked up books on quilting-inspired fiction and found 90% of the book to be about a murder mystery and only an occasional minor mention of the main character stitching on binding on the way to a crime scene. Ugh!

But Leaving Gee's Bend really focuses on quilting, or specifically hand piecing. Ludelphia decides to make a quilt for her mother and takes it with her as she journeys from her home of Gee's Bend for the first time to find a doctor for her sick mother.

Her love for her mother and new baby sister and the community of sharecroppers in Gee's Bend plays an important role as well.

While a few elements of the book are slightly unrealistic, the story is being told through the eyes of a 10 year old girl, which Irene Latham captures nicely.

I believe this book is being advertised as young adult fiction, which I feel a little indifferent about.

The one part of the book I didn't like was in the very beginning as Ludelphia's mother is giving birth. Why, why, why can't women in stories give birth without it being a graphic torture session?

Yes, childbirth is a powerful, life changing event, but are we really doing our daughters any service by making it seem like the worst experience of their lives?

And does childbirth really have to be so painful?

Sorry, that's a soapbox of mine that I can get on another day!

That's really my only beef with the book, and overall I found it to be very well written and extremely entertaining.

Honestly, Ludelphia's description of hand piecing really put me in a mood to do some hand work myself!

If you're interested in checking out this book, make sure to visit Irene Latham's website here, or order the book here.

Let's go quilt (or read about quilting)!

Leah Day


  1. Leah,
    If you want quilt fiction, you might like the series by Jennifer Chiaverini. I read the The Cross-Country Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel when I saw it at the library and thought it would be a fun was. I didn't know it was a series and I am anxious to read more. There are many books, ten I think in the series, plus quilting pattern books of the quilts the women in the stories are making. go to and type in the author's name to see all the wonderful quilting stories she has. Joni in Orlando

  2. Childbirth does hurt, no doubt about it, but it's not as dramatic as what you see on tv shows and movies.

    My husband and I were recently talking about this very subject. With our first child, he expected me to cuss him "six ways to Sunday" or at the very least claw his eyes out.

    He and I were surprised that it was as beautiful an experience as it was.

  3. Leah, I just couldn't agree with you more on the childbirth aspect. I had my son at home (so taboo!) and everyone thinks it must've been a chaotic, tragic event. Quite the opposite. I do think this is doing the women, young and old, a serious disservice. Doing what we were made to do naturally should not be portrayed so terribly.

    As for fiction, I can't help you there. I read maybe one fiction book a year!

  4. Leah,
    I for one was blessed with a friend who guided me through my whole pregnancy, from sugesting a OB Doc that believes in all natural childbirth, giving me the book "A Good Birth A Safe Birth, Bradley Childbirth Classes (soooo different from the other classes), and after having to move to Boston area flying back to Norfolk VA to be with me for delivery. Yes my labor was long enough for her to miss a flight and still arrive six hours before Sterling was born! but the most painful thing I remember was when Sterling was about 2 weeks old getting my finger stuck in the "cross hairs" of the diaper wipes lid. It gouged a hole in my finger and took my husband 20 minutes to cut the lid apart to get it off! 2am diaper changes! Geesh!
    It traumitized me to the point that I started buying the more expensive wipes in the blue rectangular container! They have since changed the design of those lids, thankfully.

    I still recomend the book I mentioned above, if you can find it. It explains the reasons behind the unnecesary medical interventions during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and every other aspect of the wonderful process of childbirth, whether you've already had a child or not.
    Knowledge is a powerful thing!

  5. I had my first baby when I had just turned 19. The LaMaze classes suggested that "it's more like a strong feeling than pain" and said that a first baby would take at least 14-24 hours to be born. Madelaine came in less than 7 hours, and from the 5 minute pains it was less than 2.5 hours. By the time I was in transition, I was terrified because I pictured it getting exponentially worse for the next 7 to 17 hours. It was the worst pain I could imagine, made worse by the dread of it getting worse. Then a nurse came in and said I had crowned. When it was over and I held Madelaine, I thought, I would do again. It was worth it.

  6. I need to give an additional comment to the childbirth. I get so upset when I hear other women telling a first time pregnant woman how horrible it was. Why, oh, why, do women do that to other women?

    We should be supportive of all events in a woman's life.

  7. Hi Leah - thanks so much for your review of Leaving Gee's Bend! And wow, I LOVE what you are doing with your machine! It is an art unto If you'd like to send me your snail mail address, I will send you a little something "Gee's Bend." Happy Creating!


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