Can a quilt about the life of Harriet Tubman help a 20-something girl in 21st century California overcome a racial barrier?
That’s the question author Kathi Macias seeks to answer with the first book in her new quilt series, The Moses Quilt. The story centers on Mazie, a young woman on the cusp of her adult life. She lives with her mother and great-grandmother in California. Mimi, the great-grandmother, has moved from the Deep South, and Mazie serves as her caregiver most days. Besides caring for her grandmother, Mazie faces the dilemma of whether to marry her boyfriend, Edward, or not. He’s asked her and she keeps putting him off, presumably because he’s black and she’s not. As Mimi’s health starts to fade, she begins to share the story of the Moses quilt with Mazie and Edward. Through her stories, they learn about Harriet Tubman’s life and the obstacles she overcame to become the Moses of her people.
One of the aspects of Macias’ writing I appreciate is her willingness to tackle hard subjects in her novels. She’s written about sex trafficking, Islam, immigration and homelessness, and she does it superbly, putting faces and real situations on topics that are often debated and argued without thought to real people and real circumstances.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much I hoped I would. Mazie’s struggles with her boyfriend’s race seemed a little outdated for 21st century America, but it’s also possible I’m naive about such prejudices as their existence today. It was hard for me to empathize with her hesitation. She loved him, she should marry him, I thought. And the overall development of the story felt slow to me. Because one of the characters was a 93-year-old woman, all they seemed to do in the story was eat meals together and sit by the bedside and listen to stories from the past. And when they weren’t doing that, they were talking about the story they’d heard.
I just couldn’t get into it, and that made me sad.
Macias plans two more books in the quilt series, and I may still check those out. She is a good storyteller, and even at the end of this story, I was moved to tears. Maybe if I was a quilter, I would have appreciated the explanation of the quilt squares more.
Continue reading for more about the book from the author.
The Quilt Series sounds interesting, but what makes it unique or sets it apart from the many other quilt books that are so popular right now? First, I must confess to NOT being a quilter. I’ve never even considered taking it up! Second, I love quilts and have always been fascinated by the stories behind them. I combined that fascination with my passion for writing issues-related fiction, and I ended up with a three-book series that is, for the most part, contemporary but told against historical backdrops.
Sounds interesting! Can you tell us a bit about each of the three books in the series? Sure! Book one, The Moses Quilt, involves an interracial romance, where the couple works through their concerns and apprehensions as they learn the story of Harriet Tubman’s faith and courage as told through the patches of the Moses quilt that represents her life. Book two, The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt, deals with the topic of abortion told against the backdrop of the life of America’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, who was strongly pro-life. Book three, The Singing Quilt, deals with a young woman overcoming a physical disability; the background for that story is based on the “Queen of Gospel,” Fannie Crosby.
Was it difficult to do the research on these women, particularly Harriet Tubman? What did you learn about her in the process? I knew more about Harriet Tubman than I did about Elizabeth Blackwell or Fannie Crosby, but I expanded my knowledge of each as I did the research. Harriet Tubman’s amazing faith and courage is what stood out most to me about her life. Here was a woman born a slave, penniless for the majority of her life, and illiterate except for the scripture verses she had memorized (even if she couldn’t read them). Her prayer life was powerful, even as a child. After she escaped to the North and began making forays back into the South to help bring others out of slavery, friends would caution her against it. “Harriet, there’s a reward on your head—dead or alive. Aren’t you afraid?” She brushed off their fear and explained that she believed God had called her to help rescue her people; therefore, He would protect her. When her job was done, He would take her home to heaven, so what was there to fear? Wow, what a dynamic woman of God! I also learned that her achievements went far beyond rescuing slaves, though that’s what she’s best known for. She also served as a spy for the Union Army, worked as a nurse, and opened a home for indigent elderly former slaves. She died there herself in her mid-nineties, and the entire town flew their flags at half-mast in her honor.
Tell us a little more about the contemporary story in The Moses Quilt. The majority of the contemporary story is set just outside San Francisco. Mazie is white and deeply in love with Edward, an African-American lawyer who adores her and wants to marry her but tries to be respectful of her hesitation to make a commitment. What he doesn’t know is that Mazie is disturbed by what she considers secrets in her family’s past, secrets that begin to be unraveled as her great-grandmother, Mimi, tells her and Edward the story behind her Moses quilt, which she bought years earlier in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a little town famous for its quilts. Edward thought he knew everything there was to know about Harriet Tubman, who had always been somewhat of a hero to him, but Mimi’s story opens up new avenues of discovery for both the young people in this relationship—and takes them straight back to the quilt’s origin in Gee’s Bend.
This sounds like more than just a “feel-good” story. Can it be used as a study book in some way?
Absolutely! As with nearly all my books we have free downloadable discussion questions at www.newhopedigital.com
that will enable The Moses Quilt
to be read as a study book for individuals or used as a discussion/study book for groups.
About the Author: Kathi Macias
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on this blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).