Part memoir and part urban social history, Pieces from Life's Crazy Quilt is an African American woman's personal account of her life during a racially turbulent period in a northern American city. Raised in a black neighborhood in urban Detroit, Marvin V. Arnett begins her book with her birth during the Great Depression, and ends with the infamous Detroit race riot of 1943. Arnett's close observations and attention to the details of her neighborhood and the complex adult relationships around her make this an understated yet powerful story of witness. Like the idiosyncratic pieces of a crazy quilt, each chapter functions alone but takes on particular resonance when considered with the whole. Choreographed as one-act plays, each chapter invites the reader into the life of the Sprague family and their neighbors during the years after the Ford Motor Company closed their Detroit plants. Arnett tells the story of her childhood with subversive allusions to the Victorian-era coming-of-age stories she consumed while growing up and the moral lessons she absorbed in such readings but could not reconcile with her own experience.