Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

A fantastic read

The Color of Water was an excellent novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the captivating life stories of James and of his white, Jewish mother. Each narrative is carefully woven throughout the chapters of this novel, all of which were remarkable and imaginative. I would recommen...
The Color of Water was an excellent novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the captivating life stories of James and of his white, Jewish mother. Each narrative is carefully woven throughout the chapters of this novel, all of which were remarkable and imaginative. I would recommend the poignant and touching accounts of James and his mother to anyone of any race, any religion, and any background.

posted by Anonymous on January 3, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

sample is ALL reviews

I wanted to read a sample of the book, but it is ALL reviews.

posted by 5343243 on July 13, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2009

    Must Read

    When I first picked up this book, and thumbed through it, I thought that it wasn't going to be so great. Now that I have read the book, I realize that i couldn't been farther from the truth.<BR/>The switching between his story and his mother's story caught me off gaurd at first, and made me think that the two stories where about the same person. After I had read a few chapters, though, I realized that the story was being split into two different tales told by ttow different people. <BR/>Overall, this book is a great tribute to the hardships' that McBrides' mother had to endure as a child, along with the ones that she got through as an adult.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    Why

    Why are there so many bad reveiws? I showed them to my dad and he got so mad and sad that me and my brother got grounded. Jeez if you dont like something than either say it nicer or dont say it at all.




    P.S. my dad is James McBride

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    recommended for my daughters

    who are both inter racial. Maybe they will read this and appreciate the strife I went through. It wasnt easy in the 60. The new divivion is that there is no division. Not!!! There will always be a difference. It is the person that makes it through the BS.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A joy to read

    The Color of Water is a memoir by a man who grew up as a black boy with a white mother. This book is an interesting story about his experiences as a child and teenager, and shares his relationship with his mother. He discusses the pressures he had of living with a white mother in New York, where race played a big role. The story alternated points of view from himself, to a story his mother had written about her life from childhood on. His mother, Ruth, grew up as a Jewish girl in a Christian town.
    I had to read this book for school originally, but this story was a joy to read. It was entertaining as well as heartwrenching. I enjoy hearing life stories, and this is one hell of a good one. This story was of course a great representation of racial and religious issues, if you will; this is by far an amazingly inspirational book.
    This book was creatively written, with text that is completely un-boring, and includes some humor here and there. The Color of Water is strong, and is completely worth picking up.
    My mother hardly reads and is a much harsher judge than I, and she had read this story as well, and thoroughly enjoyed it. She literally could not put it down.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2015

    The color of water

    Give you a lot to think about


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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2014

    Pretty good Read... If you don't like emotional stories, this bo

    Pretty good Read... If you don't like emotional stories, this book is not for you. Not only does it trigger emotion, but it draws you into the life of each character, allowing you to experience their feelings. James McBride has a mysterious way of writing, leaving the reader to wonder what happens next. Since the book was written by revisiting the past every other chapter, some events can be predicted. But I think there is a perfect balance between suspense, and knowing what happens next. In the story, Ruth gave her sister a promise of never leaving her. All the reader gets to know, is that Ruth brakes the promise and her sister would remind her of it later. I don't usually enjoy reading non-fiction as much as I did with The Color of Water. It gave me a picture of what life was like for a multi racial family living in New York in the mid 1900s. It's a story of discovering oneself and, for James, his family as well. Although there were some characters who's behavior is inexcusable and would not have gone unnoticed In this generation, I think The Color of Water is a pretty good read.

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  • Posted April 30, 2014

    The color of Water. This book tells the story of James McBride

    The color of Water.

    This book tells the story of James McBride about his upbringing with his mother Ruth McBride who is a white Jew. As James is growing up he can’t quite understand why his mother is white and he is black. James did a great job in writing this book, and was able to get his mother to tell story, I had more of an interest and was able to connect with Ruth’s story.
    Ruth McBride then tells her story from her upbringing in south. She grew up in Virginia, and came over to America when she was an infant. Her father Tateh who is a rabbi, had abused Ruth. Tateh did not like black people; however Rachel has an interest in black men. Ruth ends up pregnant by her black boyfriend peter. She then starts to go visit with her family in NYC so they are not aware of her pregnancy. Eventually Ruth ends up living in Harlem, NY permanently. She was rejected from her family when she married a black guy, and was told not to come back again. Her first husband Dennis had died; she then later met and remarried Hunter Jordan. When her children would ask her questions about her family she said they are dead, so am I. From her past experiences it was hard for Ruth to recall anything, as well as to explain to James, and his siblings. Ruth is able to raise all 12 children on her own, and they all grew up to be successful. The book represented love, religion, race, and family which was some of the obstacles Ruth had to overcome, because she had such a hard upbringing, when she left her family and, who she used to be didn’t exist which was Ruth. Letting go of her past, the Jewish life, she became a new person Rachel with her new family. A woman with such and awesome story to tell, as well as James gets to share is story about is up bring with his mother. James then grew up and was able to find what his mother really taught him was for good reasons. As well as there was a reason why she raised him and taught him the way she did.

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  • Posted April 30, 2014

    The book which is written by James McBride "The Color of Wa

    The book which is written by James McBride &quot;The Color of Water&quot; is tribute by black son to his white mother. I was so touched by the story of Ruth McBride and her 12 children. Ruth was born in Jewish family as Racheal Shilsky. She was abused by her father and was deserted by her family, when she moved to Harlem and married a black man. As a widow she raised her 12 children by herself. She had very little money and hard times. However, she always instilled in her family and her strong faith in God and her powerful belief in the value of good education. She guided them through college and graduate school to become successful adults. The story of this unique family was told from two distinct, parallel perpectives, that of the author and that of his mother. I really enjoyed reading this book and I am so thankful to the author of this book for sharing this inspirational story. The best part of the story is when James asked his mother that what color God is and she replied by saying him that God is the color of water. I would like to recommend this book to everyone.

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  • Posted April 30, 2014

    The Author James McBride wrote this book as a tribute to his mot

    The Author James McBride wrote this book as a tribute to his mother. He tells two stories from two different perspectives. One is about his mother, how she was born a Jew who grew up to marry two black men. The other story is about the author himself and how he grew up confused, not knowing if he was black or white. This is an excellent story of a mixed family who overcame obstacles growing up in the early 1960's.
    McBride’s mother who was Jewish by birth moved to Virginia in 1923 from Poland. She didn't have a good relationship with her father because he wouldn’t allow her to have black friends. She left home when she was nineteen years old and never returned. She married McBride’s father, a black man, and had eight children. After sixteen years of marriage, he died and shortly after she married another black man who took care of her eight children as his own and had four more children.
    McBride’s story is about how he grew up in New York not understanding his race in a black neighborhood. While interviewing his mom, he was enlightened to understand the issues with race she faced growing up. His mother always stressed the importance of education. She became Christian while married to her first husband and instilled the determination to succeed into her twelve children. All twelve children eventually went to college and succeeded. This story was amazing but the story of his mother was more interesting to me. Overall I loved this book and thinks it’s a great tribute to any mother.

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  • Posted March 17, 2014

    Highly Recommend Reading this Book.

    This is an excellent book on Fiction. I recommend everyone reading this book.

    William B. Turner
    Author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    In the Color of Water we are introduced to many characters. Jame

    In the Color of Water we are introduced to many characters. James Mcbride, Ruth Mcbride Jordan, Andrew Dennis McBride, Hunter Jordan, Aunt Betsy, Mary, and Laura, Helen McBride, Peter, Jack, Big Richard, and Chicken Man. The setting of the novels takes place mostly in Suffolk, Virginia and New York City. It takes place in to 1900's, specifically from the 1920's to the 90's. Two major themes i find in the novel are religious differences and hidden secrets. I enjoyed the book because it had many elements throughout the novel. It tells the amazing story of Ruth Mcbride Jordan and the two men she married. Aside from this, it also tells the story about the twelve children that she raised as a mother. Throughout the book, Ruth battled racism and poverty, yet raised a family, and it showed her will and power to be a mother. All in all it is a good read for somebody looking for something different to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    A complicated but full filling life. The Color of Water was a gr

    A complicated but full filling life.
    The Color of Water was a great read. I learned more about what life was like for different people in the past. It was interesting and informative, what interested me most was reading from James' and his mother, Ruth's point of view. Most people don't realize how hard it was for certain races or religions in the past and this book touches on two major areas.
    Main characters: Ruth (A mother of 12), James (one of Ruth's sons), Dennis (Ruth's first husband), Hunter (Ruth's second husband), Tateh&amp; Mameh (Ruth's father and mother), Helen (one of Ruth's daughters), and Dee-Dee (Ruth's younger sister) Setting: Time-1920s-1950s (Ruth's life before James) 1960s-1990s (Ruth's life with James and her other children) Places- Suffolk, Virginia, New York City, Louisville, Kentucky, Oberlin, Ohio, and Wilmington, Delaware. Main Events: Ruth's childhood, Ruth's adult life, James' childhood.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    The main characters of this book are the author James Mc Bride a

    The main characters of this book are the author James Mc Bride and his mother Ruth Mc Bride jordan. There are some other characters like the author's brothers and sisters and Ruth's mother and father. But the story is more about James and his mother. The story is told from the author's perspective and Ruth's perspective. Part of the story took place in Suffolk, a small town in Virginia, which is where Ruth spent her teenage years. Then, part of it took place in New York which is where the author spent his childhood and part of it took place in Delaware. the story of Ruth Mc Bride began in 1921 and the story of James Mc Bride began in the late 60s. The main events of this book are the following: Ruth Mc Bride married a black man, the social problems faced by Ruth with her black kids, James Mc Bride started being a bad boy, James Mc Bride and all his siblings graduated from college, Ruth Mc Bride told James her story that she has concealed for a long time, James Mc bride went to Suffolk to look for his roots. This book is awesome. I really like it because it tells story about rascism, values of education and the courage and intelligence of a mother.



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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    A memoir for those who don't like memoirs

    As a general rule, I don't like memoirs. But I had a friend who kept raving about this book and she picked it for the book group to read. It was an incredible story which I enjoyed and we had a very interesting discussion

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  • Posted June 1, 2012

    Revealing

    Well done. . .culturally enlightening!

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    Story Told from a Black Man in a Racist World

    James McBride tells his story as he goes through life as a black child in a racial world. Having a white mother and being a black child really troubled McBride throughout his childhood, wondering who he was and why he was different. His mother's only response was that he was the color of water, or in other words the color that god made him. Finally once he got older he was able to get his mother (Ruth) to tell him her story, which had never been told to anyone before. Turns out she was a Jewish woman who had children with a black man which was forbidden. She alienated her entire family out of her life because of bad judgment and her kids meant more to her. James and Ruth struggle to make a compromise with the past. Both greatly want to let go of most of their past and worry about the present. Ruth wants to leave her past as a young girl and the way that she was judged. James wants to forget all the times he was not accepted for his race. Both the mother and son had to learn to be judged the way that they were. Ruth had to learn to be judged because she is a Jewish woman with six black children. James had to learn to stick up for himself and his race. This book was a great book overall, it deserves four stars. The overall message of the book was great and it was funny and sad at the same time. What I did not like was that there wasn't any climax or huge part that the book was based on. I would recommend this book to anyone though because this story of McBride and mother fighting to freedom is amazing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2011

    An Emotional Read

    Exceptional reading. Distutbing and heart rending at times. A Jewish woman marries black men and produces a large brood of children. With little to no income and a fierce determination she struggles against prejudices and the ills of society and their daily lives to educate each one of her children. Her methods could probably be questioned but the results speak for themself. A story of unity, triumph and heartache.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    Great Book with Great Story

    The Color of Water
    In the book, The Color of Water, it was about an African-American kid and his Jewish white mother. At the beginning of the story he doesn't really understand his mother and he doesn't really know her. As the story goes on James recognizes how brave a woman she is to be a Jewish white woman in their community. James also gets know his mother and he starts talking to her and liking her. James wrote this book for his mother as tribute to her for being brave and raising twelve children.
    What I liked about the book was how James never made a connection with his mother but, by the end of the book he knows her very well and appreciates how strong of a woman she really is. Another thing I liked about the book was how she was able to look past people's appearance and get along with them. In the times that the book takes place times were hard between white people and black people and Ruth, James' mother, was able to look past all of this and she had twelve black children. This was a major message from the book showing how she was not racist at all but had been treated poorly because she was Jewish. Another message or theme from this book was the connection that James makes with his mother. He didn't know his mother at all growing up but as he got older he really appreciated her. I would recommend this book because it is very interesting and has a great story. I would rate this book as a 4 out of 5 stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    Sad but makes you have hope

    The book tells the story a white-Jewish woman Rachel Shilsky / Ruth McBride Jordan, who married two black men and raised a very successful family in the inner city. Alternating chapters, the book tells the story of her childhood from her perspective and the story of her adult life from her son, the author, James McBride's perspective. The Color of Water reads like a novel but is biographical.

    Rachel's father was a rabbi in Virginia. According to his daughter, he was a really horrible person. He was violent, unloving and unfaithful to his crippled wife. He was cheap, racist and a hypocrite. Rachel's experience with her father was her only Jewish experience and eventually led her to a life as far from Judaism as she could run. Reading about her limited understanding of her Judaism and her father's gross behavior was depressing.

    But despite it all, she persevered as a person. She left Judaism but she turned herself into a very strong woman. She led a large family against the odds to great success. Perhaps most importantly and ironically, her son attributes their success to her "Jewishness". She pushed her children to get an education and stereotypically, many of them are "professionals" that would make any yiddishe mama proud.

    As much as Rachel ran away from her Jewish roots, those Jewish values were nevertheless instilled in her family and led them to great success.

    The book is fascinating, educational, heartwarming, heartrending and challenging. It is well written, fun to read, leaves room for much discussion, indeed, the book is part of many high school and college curricula and I recommend the book for teens and adults.

    I would love to meet Mr. McBride and his mother after reading this book. I am pretty sure you will too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    The Color of God, The Color of Water

    The Color Of Water was a book about a boy named James who is an African American child with a large family and a white mother. Their dad is always working so in turn, their mother must take care of them all. As the book progresses, James describes how you would be lucky to eat dinner every night and not everyone did. Sometimes they would have to go without dinner for the night due to the fact that there was only so much food that his mother could stuff in her purse from her job. This book was very intellectually told and is a very thought-provoking piece that really makes you think about how lucky you really are to be in the position that you're in. This book is also filled with many mysteries. Throughout Jame's childhood he knows little about his mother's past and where she originated from. Also, when Ruth, the other main character, became pregnant she only told her boyfriend, not her family. These little mysteries throughout the book really add to the sort of "cloudy" vibe that it gives off. Although the reader is left in the dark most of the time about the current backgrounds and activities of the characters, they still somehow feel connected to what they are reading which is definitely a positive thing. I couldn't manage to find any problems with this book. The dialog was really well written as well as the diction and word choice. Everything in this novel was phenomenal. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in it and even to people who may not be entirely interested for it truly is a book that isn't to be missed.

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