IWIC Book review: Quilt of Souls … “a beautiful rendering…”

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Quilt of Souls, by Phyllis Lawson, is a beautifully rendered biographical narrative about the true-life experiences of the author, growing up in the deep south, a story about the anchor in her life, her grandma Lula. Much of the story covers the early years growing up with her grandma on a farm, in a pastoral setting that seems like a distant time in history, with water wells, candlelit nights, cropping food, homemade goods – rarely store-bought, where poverty and want were turned, by necessity and the will of the spirit alone, into survival and the very threads that formed the weave of a difficult time in the history of the African-Americans who endured this culture. The author, through her own eyes growing up in these times, and through the tales told by grandma Lula, takes us back to a time when inequality, prejudice and racism were the order of the day, when people were treated as less than citizens and beaten and even killed for nothing more than the color of their skin. Grandma Lula tells her grand-daughter touching and even brutal stories of her family, people who endured abuse and oppression, of their courage and their perseverance in the face of intolerable conditions, of their hope and inspiration, and how, even if they spilled their blood in standing up for what they believed, their stories went on to tell the tale. As the years go by, grandma Lula, known for her hand-woven quilts, weaves a quilt for her grand-daughter, using the shreds of clothing from those dead and gone – to keep alive their history, their stories and their very souls in the tapestry of this engaging true story which will move you. Grandma Lulu is not only the anchor in the author’s growing years leading up to her late teens, but she is the icon of both love and undying inspiration that everyone needs, and as shown in this story, was not always there for those who desperately wanted it – or needed it. This is a story that is well worth reading – it depicts the reality of a world that was, that maybe still is, but certainly a world that was made brighter and better by the spirit of one woman and how she touched the lives of those around her; and who never judged anyone for who they were – a quality that transcended the bias and hatred of her time then, and even today.

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