The Color of Water 10th Anniversary Edition [NOOK Book]

Overview

The New York Times bestselling story from the author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction.

Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of ...
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The Color of Water 10th Anniversary Edition

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Overview

The New York Times bestselling story from the author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction.

Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.

In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.

At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college—and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.

Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.




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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
As a young black boy in Brooklyn, James McBride wondered why his mother looked different. When he asked her if she was white or black, she would answer, "I'm light-skinned." Finally, when he had become an adult, she told him her story. She was a rabbi's daughter, born in Poland, raised in the American South. McBride's tribute, now published in a 10th anniversary edition, has become a classic in healthy race relations, a topic we are all apparently still learning.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440636103
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/7/2006
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 13,430
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, the #1 bestselling American classic The Color of Water, and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. McBride is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

 

Biography

James McBride's bestselling memoir, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, explores the author's struggle to understand his biracial identity and the experience of his white, Jewish mother, who moved to Harlem, married a black man, and raised 12 children. Readers may not know that the multitalented McBride has another dual identity: He's trained as a musician and a writer and has been highly successful in both careers.

After getting his master's degree in journalism from Columbia University at the age of 22, he began a career in journalism that would include stints as staff writer at the Boston Globe, People magazine, and The Washington Post. But McBride also loved writing and performing music, and at age 30, he quit his job as a feature writer at The Washington Post to pursue a music career in New York. After Anita Baker recorded a song he'd written, "Good Enough," McBride had enough contacts in the industry to spend the next eight years as a professional musician, writing, recording, and performing (he plays the saxophone).

He was playing tenor sax for jazz singer Little Jimmy Scott while he wrote The Color of Water "on airplanes and in hotels." Like the jazz music McBride plays, the book alternates voices, trading off between McBride's perspective and that of his mother. The Color of Water was a worldwide success, selling millions of copies and drawing high praise from book critics. "This moving and unforgettable memoir needs to be read by people of all colors and faiths," wrote Publishers Weekly. It now appears on reading lists at high schools and colleges around the country.

After the enormous success of The Color of Water, McBride felt some pressure to continue writing memoirs, or at least to continue with the theme of race relations in America. Instead, he turned to fiction, and although his second book draws part of its inspiration from family history, it isn't autobiographical. "My initial aim was to write a novel about a group of black soldiers who liberate a concentration camp in Eastern Europe," McBride explains on his web site. "I read lots of books and spent a lot of time researching the subject but soon came to the realization that I'm not qualified to write about the holocaust. It's too much." Instead, he recalled the war stories of his uncle and cousin, who served in the all-black 92nd Infantry Division, and began researching World War II in Italy -- particularly the clashes between Italian Partisans and the German army.

The resulting novel, Miracle at St. Anna, is "an intricate mosaic of narratives that ultimately becomes about betrayal and the complex moral landscape of war" (The New York Times Book Review) and has earned high marks from critics for its nuanced portrayal of four Buffalo Soldiers and the Italian villagers they encounter. McBride, perhaps not surprisingly, likens writing fiction to playing jazz: "You are the soloist and the characters are the bandleaders, the Duke Ellingtons and Count Basies. They present the song, and you must play it as they determine."

Good To Know

McBride has written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., Gary Burton, and the PBS television character Barney. He has also written the score for several musicals and currently leads a 12-piece jazz/R&B band.

One of his most taxing assignments as a journalist was to cover Michael Jackson's 1984 Victory Tour for six months. "I thought I was going to lose my mind," he told USA Today.

For a book fair, he performed with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band made up of writers including Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Stephen King, Dave Barry, and Ridley Pearson.

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    1. Hometown:
      Bucks County, Pennsylvania
    1. Date of Birth:
      1957
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Oberlin Conservatory of Music; M.A., Columbia University School of Journalism

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 381 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(190)

4 Star

(121)

3 Star

(38)

2 Star

(17)

1 Star

(15)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 381 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2007

    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 recommend the poignant and touching accounts of James and his mother to anyone of any race, any religion, and any background.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2006

    The best book I'v read in a while.

    James McBride is a wonderful writer who makes the book so interesting that it is difficult to put down. That's how good the book is to read. McBride provides excellent details and gives the reader a good view of what the characters are like and what their purpose is in the story. James McBride is an author I would like to meet and I will for sure read 'The Color of Water' again and I will most definitely read more books writen by McBride. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to others. The book will, I think, give people more of an understanding of what black people had to go through in the 1990's. It will also give people an understanding of what a white mother had to go through while raising twelve black children. Over all, I think, 'The Color of Water' is a book every one should read.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 1999

    Extremely inspiring

    I found this book to be very inspirational. It proves that no matter the color of your skin or the content of your background, you can make it to be anything you want to be. It makes you more aware of how times are changing.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012

    sample is ALL reviews

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

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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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 October 1, 2008

    It brought me to wonderful tears

    I'm buying this book for my seven siblings. This book brought back so many wonderful childhood memories. The places,struggles,dynamics of the family. Hard times but the best times. I laughed and I cried. The mothers strength and courage and tenacity reminded me so much of my mother. I loved this book. A day later and I'm still smiling.

    3 out of 3 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 November 28, 2006

    The color of excellence

    James McBride makes an outstanding performance in this book which took him fourteen years to write. The result is excellent. A beautiful honest story, full of thruths and full of life. A must-read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Amazing book,,

    This is a great book. We had to read it as a school assignment, and i really thought it would be a boring killer... after i read it for school, I read it over, and over on my own spare time... Ruth is a great mother. I really recomend this book! It kept my intertained for hours!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    The best

    This is my #1 favorite book of all times. Read it, you will love it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2012

    Really good

    One of my favorite books growing up and stil is.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Great story, moving plot.

    I had to read this book for summer reading anf honestly it was one of the very best. It had a moving plot with likable characters and was just wonderul quick read.

    1 out of 1 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 November 21, 2011

    I have a question

    So i am a sophomore in high school and i love to read and my sisters boyfriend who is in college wants me to read it for him and he's going to pay me. Is it worth the read? Someone please respond!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Cheaper in paperback

    My daughter needs to read this for her high school summer reading so I thought I would get it for the nook. It was cheaper to buy it at my local b&n. I look forward to reading the book when she is done. Some have told me it is one of the best books they have ever read. Shame on the publisher for hiking up the price knowing that for many kids this is required reading.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2008

    Outstanding

    The Color of Water is an easy read. I read this novel with my English Advance class and everybody seemed to enjoy it as well. The context is straight foward which makes the book fun and enjoyable to read. The Color of Water makes a great summer beach book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2000

    What interesting Book!

    Color of Water is a great book. I really appreciated the way the author wrote it by explaining the whole story steo by step. Thru this book, the author(James McBride) has done a great job about the identity of his background and shown to the world that we do not have to hate each other because of the race. This book is well written. I like it because it shows that there is no difference between human beings. I would recommend it to others because it will help us to forget the discrimination between blacks, whites, Jews...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2014

    The inspiring story of a white woman in a black man¿s world A re

    The inspiring story of a white woman in a black man’s world
    A review of The color of water: a black man’s tribute to his white mother written by Baseme Anyanwu.
    Introduction 
              This essay is an attempt at writing a critical review of the first five chapters of The color of water: a black man’s tribute to is white mother.  The book which was originally published in 1996, before it was later followed by a second edition after ten years, was published by the Berkley Publishing Group of the Pengium Group Inc., New York.  The author is James McBride, an African-American journalist that is the product of inter-racial marriage between a black man and Jewish woman.  Mr. McBride is known for his prolific writings as a journalist, novelist and screen play writer.  He is also an acknowledged saxophonist and music composer.
    Summary 
             In this book the author tells the story of his family informing the reader about the challenges that his family went through in life because of poverty coupled with his mother’s physical handicap and the inter-racial nature of the marriage of his parents.  The high point of his story is that in the midst of their challenges, all his siblings came out successful in life.
              The story is told in in twenty five chapters in which he tries to tell the unique plots of stories surrounding his family.  In chapter one the author describes his family, and provides information about their origin.  His mother’s family survived the Nazi holocaust.  He proceeds in chapter two to describe his stepfather and his influence on him and his siblings.  His biological father had died fourteen years earlier, when his mother was pregnant with him.  The death of his stepfather eventually affected him when he died.  He noted that his mother was so large in the life of him and his siblings so much so that she was everything to them – their psychologist, their chief medical consultant, their financial adviser and religious teacher.
               His grandparents were also involved in their lives and brought their own impressions upon him. The grandparents were orthodox Jews who strictly observed the Jewish dietary and religious lifestyle.  This was equally reflected in the hygienic handling of their physical environment.  
              The author being the child of a black man and a white woman, had to struggle with the identity of who he was.  He tells the story of his identity struggle in chapter four.  He looked different from other people in the neighborhood, coupled with the taunting of his siblings who kept making jokes at him that his mother was in prison.  Initially he had thought that he was an adopted child since his mother was white, but his mother eventually made him to understand that she was his biological mother.  This family valued education more than material wealth, for it was their philosophy that money without knowledge was worthless.
              The last chapter in this review is chapter five.  The story in this chapter centers around his grandparents’ life as Jewish preachers as was told by his mother. She had made the point that her parents were poor and her father was a Rabbi who lived a migrant preacher’s life.  The family’s poverty was a kind of trade mark on them wherever they went to.
    Critique 
              This is a very inspiring story told from a first-hand experience.  The writer writes in plain easy to read and comprehend English that makes it easy for a young reader to follow his line of story.  An important and interesting feature of this book is that the author tells his story in plots, with each plot dwelling on something unique about the story of his family.  The writer also is very realistic and practical in this book, telling his very private life account without shame but in ways that can encourage and motivate other people.  The writer makes very good use of figurative expressions in the book, but it is remarkable to note that they are used in ways that do not complicate matters for the reader.
              Perhaps the highpoint of the inspiration in this story is when the author tells his readers about his mother’s struggle for education, for which she eventually earned a Bachelors degree from Temple University in Philadelphia at the age of sixty five.
              The inspirations in this book notwithstanding, the writer sometimes makes it difficult to follow the line of his story as he meanders around with his story.  There are too many names mentioned in the book, which also makes it hard for the reader to keep track of his line of comprehension.  The story of his grandparent’s family is told in a first person experience without him revealing that this was the voice of his mother speaking.  This at first confuses things for a young reader.
    Conclusion 
              James McBride no doubt comes across in this book as an inspirational writer.  He comes across as a man who loves his mother and treasures her labors in raising him and his siblings out of a background of extreme poverty.  He is happy that all his siblings as successful despite their struggle with economic and material disadvantages.  Readers can gain both inspiration and challenge from this book in their own personal battles with life.

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  • Posted December 2, 2014

    The book I will be reviewing is The Color of Water by James McBr

    The book I will be reviewing is The Color of Water by James McBride. The book is a black man’s tribute to his white mother. The book is an autobiography published in 1995. The book is read as two different point of views. The point of view switches back and forth from James McBride’s view to his mother Ruth’s view.

    On a star rating from one to five I would place the book at two stars. There are multiple reasons for this. The first reason is I find the book confusing. I think the book has two many characters. Another reason would be how it changes from different points of view from chapter to chapter, and I don’t care for that. Also I don’t think it goes into detail enough and leaves allot open for interpretation.

    The main characters of the story are James McBride and his mother Ruth. Other characters include Dennis McBride , Hudis Shilsky, and Fishel Shilsky. The story is like James along with his mother Ruth’s story. It really bounces around a lot which is what I don’t like . The story however tells how Ruth grew up in Suffolk ,Virginia. She got pregnant by a boy named Peter . Racism was high at the time, so she could not tell anyone. Peter could be killed if she did. She moved away to Harlem to deal with her pregnancy away from her family. While there she met a man named Dennis. She married Dennis and became a Christian. She would have James from Dennis. Dennis then died from lung cancer however. Ruth was deeply depressed about his death until she met her second husband Hunter Jordan. Overall I think the book was decent and not a bad book to read story wise. The organization of the book and the way its presented and laid out I do not agree with.

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