Writers Inspiring Change feature book review: Quilt of Souls
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.
Review by International Writers Inspiring Change
About Phyllis Lawson
Ms. Lawson was born in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of four, she was sent to the tiny town of Livingston, Alabama to be raised by her grandmother Lula Horn (1883-1986), who made beautiful quilts out of the clothing of her loved ones. Each strip of fabric tells the story of the wearer’s life and death. She shared these mostly tragic and sometimes witty tales with little Phyllis as she sewed their clothes into a quilt that threaded broken lives back together. Ms. Lawson now shares these profound stories with the world as Grandmother Lula told them to her. After graduating from High School, Ms. Lawson joined the United States Air Force as a WAF (Women’s Air Force) and was one of the first female B-52 mechanics. She served one tour in the Air Force and left the service in 1978. She used her military educational benefits to attend the University of Maryland, receiving a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Sociology and Social Work. She spent twenty years working as a counselor for incarcerated youth, women who were victims of domestic violence, and with youth and adults suffering from alcohol/substance abuse. Three of those years were spent in the United States Army Reserves.
Following a seventeen-year break from military service, in 2002 Ms. Lawson returned to the military as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard and Active Duty Service, retiring from the U.S Army in 2013. During this period she served as an Aviation Operations Specialist, Equal Opportunity Advisor and Instructor. Ms. Lawson was one of only a handful of women in the military who served in three major military conflicts including the Vietnam Era where she served three temporary duty assignments to Vietnam before the 1975 fall of Saigon. She was also deployed to Saudi Arabia as a member of Operation Desert Storm, and in December 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She has received three military campaign medals for assignments where she served to support the United States Armed Services in armed conflict, including a U.S. Army Expeditionary, Global War on Terrorism and a host of other Army and Air Force medals for superior performance in the line of duty.
After retiring from the military, Ms. Lawson spent the following two years writing her memoir Quilt of Souls, released March 13, 2015. Since its release, this poignant memoir has garnered a great deal of buzz from social, print and television media. Quilt of Souls is consistently viral on Facebook. As a result of the popularity of her memoir, she has been interviewed and appeared in over 40 different media outlets including internet blog talks, on-line newspapers, social media forums, television, radio and media advertisements. Since October 2015, Ms. Lawson has had over 30 public appearances in support of her memoir Quilt of Souls. She has appeared at Public Libraries, Book Clubs, High Schools, Quilting Guilds and Genealogical Societies. Ms. Lawson currently resides in Viera/Suntree, Florida with her husband Larry. She has two sons and five Granddaughters.