The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White MotherThe Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
Published by Riverhead Trade on February 1st 1997
Pages: 291
ISBN: 1573225789
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Such beautiful writing. Some books grab me right away just as some do not. This one grabbed me right away. This book was a tribute to the Author’s mother who raised him and his 11 siblings. How she raised them and sent them all to school/ college, etc. Through the telling of his Mother’s life story we also learn the Author’s story as well. I enjoyed how he mixed in his Mother’s history with his upbringing. I thought his writing was candid, matter of fact, and frank. His mother never discussed the fact that she was White or Jewish instead telling him she was colorless and “the color of water”. We got a glimpse of what it was like for her to have a mixed marriage, to endure prejudice, hate, racism and misunderstanding. We also see what it was like for the author to be a mixed race child. He shared how he at times feared for his mother’s safety, and at times was embarrassed by her. He was also confused. His mother never talked about her life, her past, her color, or her family. While shopping he heard her speak Yiddish to store owners haggling for a better deal but never knew what she was saying or why she knew Yiddish. Ruth McBride Jordan was born Racehl Shilsky, the the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi and his handicapped wife. She endured a lonely, isolated upbringing in the south. She was ostracized by most of her peers because she was Jewish and was sexually molested by her father. She moved to NYC, found a home in Harlem, married a black man (the author’s father), became, converted to Christianity, started a church with her first husband and began a family. All through this she suffers hardships and despair yet manages to keep her head up, stand by her principles, and raise her children to work hard in school. She remarries after the death of her first husband and has more children with him. Throughout her life she showed resiliency, resourcefulness, determination, devotion, strength and grace. Which is why I think her children did so well in life. They may have had bumps along the way but they all made their way utilizing the life skills they learned from their Mother.

This book was very, very good. Highly recommend.


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