Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nonfiction Book Review: The Color of Water

book cover
In the autobiography, The Color of Water, James McBride tells the emotional and inspiring story of growing up in Brooklyn, born to an African-American father and a Jewish mother. During his early youth, James recognized that his mother seemed different. Of course, as any youth would, he began asking questions. James asked his mother about the color of her skin, she remarked that she was simply light-skinned. James also asked what color God was and she said: “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.” When James asked if he was black or white, Ruth angrily said to him, “You’re a human being. Educate yourself or you’ll be a nobody!” He experienced racism and prejudice on the Brooklyn streets.

As an adult, James decided to lovingly pay tribute to his mother by revealing her story through a memoir. Ruth McBride’s story slowly unraveled over a period of fourteen years. Alternating with her story are chapters that relate the story of James McBride. As with any family, you will find that lives are interrelated – one life affects the entire family. Relationships can be vastly complex. Ruth McBride - the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi - married an African-American man during the year 1942. She was a strong, self-assured woman. She was often labeled as eccentric because much of the time, she rode an antique bicycle to complete errands. She was the single parent of twelve African-American children. She believed strongly in God, education and had an incredible faith and spirit. In fact, she remarkably made sure that each of her twelve children was sent through college and most through graduate school.

By reading this book, you will more fully understand the connection between family members whose lives are intertwined through love and determination. You will be truly inspired by their love of family and faith. The memoir beautifully illustrates what can be accomplished through love, determination and spirit – the ability to triumph over incredible odds.

To learn more about James McBride, visit his home page: James McBride: Author & Musician

3 comments:

Janine said...

I attended a conference several years ago where James McBride was a guest presenter. I was so enthralled with his story that I immediately listened to this book on audio tape. It was an abridged version. I wanted more of his story so I then read the book.

Belgie said...

This book was truely great. it shows two sides to the story. It has to do with race but shows how great it really is to be interracial. high recommend this book and others by James McBride.

Espana said...

This inspiring novel shares the story of a huge family held together by their amazing mother. James McBride¿s mother Ruth is a Jewish woman that fled her Orthodox religious family and went to live in Brooklyn while his father and stepfather were both African American. While growing up, James always knew that his mother was different from other mothers, and when he would ask her questions as to why she was different, she would respond with saying ¿ I¿m light-skinned¿. And even though their family struggled near poverty conditions, their mother still focused her twelve children on the importance of education and religion. All of her children went to college and which nine continued on to graduate school. The story is told in alternating voices of James McBride of him telling about his childhood life and his mother Ruth slowly reveals things about her childhood past to her children. As a high school student, I really enjoyed reading ¿The Color of Water¿. It gave me a chance to explore and feel how an interracial child felt while growing up not really knowing about their family background. The mother inspired me the most, showing that there was nothing wrong with being different and that the two most important things that mattered is education and religion.