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Posts Tagged ‘Leaving Gee’s Bend’

SOL #23

SOL #23

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Saving Gee's Bend

Irene Latham

Irene Latham

I first met the beautiful and talented Irene Latham through Poetry Friday. Her poetry blog is Live your Poem. Then I met her face to face briefly at NCTE, but that brief moment was enough for her to offer encouraging words that made me love her.

When I went to our school’s book fair a few weeks ago, I saw the book Leaving Gee’s Bend. I didn’t know about this book. I bought it immediately and tweeted to Irene. She didn’t know that it was in Scholastic Book Fairs. How cool is that! This past week was testing, so I had some quiet time to read. I wanted to say, “Where have you been hiding?” How had I not read this book before? I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I love historical fiction, and I am a product of the South, so I related to Ludelphia. Don’t you just love her name? Ludelphia loves to quilt, and while the story arc is centered around this love of stitching and quilt making, the compelling part for me was her wild adventure to travel on foot and through water to get medicine for her mother. I pulled for her all along the way and was happy to find some other white characters who did the same. In the process of trying to save her mama, she triumphantly saves the whole town.

Irene is traveling, so she could not respond to my invitation for an interview for this post. I will use a quote from the Author’s Note. This is what fascinates me as a writer, how an idea forms and changes and becomes the book.

There are many fascinating events in the history of Gee’s bend, but it was the photographs Arthur Rothstein took for the Resettlement Administration in 1937 that most captivated me. Then when I read firsthand accounts of the 1932 raid on Gee’s Bend and later learned of the Red Cross rescue, I knew this was the experience I most wanted to write about. The people who lived through this terrible time possess a strength and faith I admire and want only to honor.

Not only has Irene Latham honored the people of Gee’s Bend, she has made them come alive and live on in us, her readers. I hope this book falls into your hands at a book fair near you.

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