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

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Overview

The New York Times bestselling story from the author of The Good Lord Bird, 2013 National Book Award Finalist in 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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Overview

The New York Times bestselling story from the author of The Good Lord Bird, 2013 National Book Award Finalist in 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.

 

Around the narrative of Ruth McBride Jordan, a.k.a. Rachel Deborah Shilsky, the daughter of an angry, failed Orthodox Jewish rabbi in the South, her son James writes of the inner confusions he felt as a black child of a white mother and of the love and faith with which his mother surrounded their large family. The result is a powerful portrait of growing up, a meditation on race and identity, and a poignant, beautifully crafted hymn from a son to his mother.

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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.
James Marcus
At a time when the relationship between African-Americans and Jews is deeply fissured, The Color of Water reminds us that the two groups have a long history of coexistence -- sometimes within a single person. The author's mother, Ruth Shilsky, was born in Poland in 1920, the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. She grew up in rural Virginia, hemmed in by anti-Semitism and small-town claustrophobia, and at the age of 18 she fled to the cultural antipodes of Harlem. There, four years later, she married a black man named Dennis McBride, and since her family promptly disowned her, she launched a second existence as (to quote her son) "a flying compilation of competing interests and conflicts, a black woman in white skin." The lone Caucasian in her Brooklyn housing project, she somehow raised 12 children without ever quite admitting she was white. In retrospect, of course, her son is able to recognize that his parents "brought a curious blend of Jewish-European and African-American distrust and paranoia into our house." However, as children, James McBride and his 11 siblings didn't dwell on questions of their mother's color. Only later, after he became a professional journalist, did McBride feel compelled to tackle the riddle of his heritage. Bit by bit, he coaxed out his mother's story, and her voice -- stoic, funny, and with a matter-of-fact flintiness -- alternates perfectly with his own tale of biracial confusion and self-discovery.
Salon
Library Journal
The need to clarify his racial identity prompted the author to penetrate his veiled and troubled family history. Ruth McBride Jordan concealed her former life as Rachel Deborah Shilsky, the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, from her children. Her grim upbringing in an abusive environment is left behind when she moves to Harlem, marries a black man, converts to Christianity, and cofounds a Baptist congregation with her husband. The courage and tenacity shown by this twice-widowed mother who manages to raise 12 children, all of whom go on to successful careers, are remarkable. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Linda Bredengerd, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib., Bradford, Pa.
Mirabella
The Color of Water [will] make you proud to be a member of the human race.
NY Times Book Review
[A] triumph.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594481925
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/7/2006
  • Edition description: Anniversary
  • Edition number: 10
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 12,412
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 8.11 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Color of Water. His most recent book, The Good Lord Bird, is a 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction. His second book, Miracle at St. Anna, was optioned for film in 2007 by Black Butterfly Productions with noted American filmmaker Spike Lee directing and co-producing. He is also the author of Song Yet Sung, available from Riverhead Books. McBride has written for the Washington Post, People, the Boston Globe, Essence, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. He is a graduate of Oberlin College. He was awarded a master’s in journalism from New York’s Columbia University at the age of twenty-two. McBride holds several honorary doctorates and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. McBride lives in Pennsylvania and New York.

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

Read an Excerpt

Dead

I'm dead.

You want to talk about my family and here I been dead to them for fifty years. Leave me alone. Don't bother me. They want no parts of me and me I don't want no parts of them. Hurry up and get this interview over with. I want to watch Dallas. See, my family, if you had a been part of them, you wouldn't have time for this foolishness, your roots, so to speak. You'd be better off watching the Three Stooges than to interview them, like to go interview my father, forget it. He'd have a heart attack if he saw you, He's dead now anyway, or if not he's 150 years old.

I was born an Orthodox Jew on April 1, 1921. April Fool's Day, in Poland. I don't remember the name of the town where I was born, but I do remember my Jewish name: Ruchel Dwajra Zylska. My parents got rid of that name when we came to America and changed it to Rachel Deborah Shilsky, and I got rid of that name when I was nineteen and never used it again after I left Virginia for good in 1941. Rachel Shilsky is dead as far as I'm concerned, She had to die in order for me, the rest me, to live.

My family mourned me when I married your father. They said kaddish and sat shiva. That's how Orthodox Jews mourn their dead. They say prayers, turn their mirrors down, sit on boxes for seven days, and cover their heads. It's a real workout, which is maybe why I'm not a Jew now. There were too many rules to follow, too many forbiddens and "you can'ts" and "you mustn'ts," but does anybody say they love you? Not in my family we didn't. We didn't talk that way. We said things like, "There's a box in there for the nails," or my father would say, "Be quiet while I sleep."

My father's name was Fishel Shilsky and he was an Orthodox rabbi. He escaped from the Russian army and snuck over the Polish border and married my mother in an arranged marriage. He used to say he was under fire when he ran off from the army, and his ability to slick himself out of anything that wasn't good for him stayed with him for as long as I knew him. Tateh, we called him, That means father in Yiddish. He was a fox, especially when it came to money. He was short, dark, hairy, and gruff. He wore a white shirt, black pants, and a tallis on his shirtsleeve, and that was like his uniform, He'd wear those black pants till they glazed and shined and were ripe enough to stand in the corner by themselves, but God help you if those pants were coming your way in a hurry, because he was nobody to fool with, my father. He was hard as a rock.

My mother was named Hudis and she was the exact opposite of him, gentle and meek. She was born in 1896 in the town of Dobryzn, Poland, but if you checked there today, nobody would remember her family because any Jews who didn't leave before Hitler got through with Poland were wiped out in the Holocaust. She was pretty about the face. Dark hair, high cheekbones, but she had polio. It paralyzed her left side and left her in overall poor health. Her left hand was useless. It was bent at the wrist and held close to her chest, She was nearly blind in her left eye and walked with a severe limp, dragging her left foot behind her. She was a quiet woman, my sweet Mameh, That's what we called her, Mameh. She's one person in this world I didn't do right by....

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Table of Contents

CONTENTS 1. Dead..............................................................1 2. The Bicycle.......................................................5 3. Kosher...........................................................15 4. Black Power......................................................21 5. The Old Testament................................................37 6. The New Testament................................................45 7. Sam..............................................................57 8. Brothers and Sisters.............................................65 9. Shul.............................................................79 10. School..........................................................85 11. Boys...........................................................107 12. Daddy..........................................................117 13. New York.......................................................129 14. Chicken Man....................................................137 15. Graduation.....................................................153 16. Driving........................................................159 17. Lost in Harlem.................................................169 18. Lost in Delaware...............................................177 19. The Promise....................................................193 20. Old Man Shilsky................................................203 21. A Bird Who Flies...............................................213 22. A Jew Discovered...............................................219 23. Dennis.........................................................231 24. New Brown......................................................249 25. Finding Ruthie.................................................259 Epilogue...........................................................279 Thanks and Acknowledgments.........................................287
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First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

Dead

I'm dead.

You want to talk about my family and here I been dead to them for fifty years. Leave me alone. Don't bother me. They want no parts of me and me I don't want no parts of them. Hurry up and get this interview over with. I want to watch Dallas. See, my family, if you had a been part of them, you wouldn't have time for this foolishness, your roots, so to speak. You'd be better off watching the Three Stooges than to interview them, like to go interview my father, forget it. He'd have a heart attack if he saw you, He's dead now anyway, or if not he's 150 years old.

I was born an Orthodox Jew on April 1, 1921. April Fool's Day, in Poland. I don't remember the name of the town where I was born, but I do remember my Jewish name: Ruchel Dwajra Zylska. My parents got rid of that name when we came to America and changed it to Rachel Deborah Shilsky, and I got rid of that name when I was nineteen and never used it again after I left Virginia for good in 1941. Rachel Shilsky is dead as far as I'm concerned, She had to die in order for me, the rest me, to live.

My family mourned me when I married your father. They said kaddish and sat shiva. That's how Orthodox Jews mourn their dead. They say prayers, turn their mirrors down, sit on boxes for seven days, and cover their heads. It's a real workout, which is maybe why I'm not a Jew now. There were too many rules to follow, too many forbiddens and "you can'ts" and "you mustn'ts," but does anybody say they love you? Not in my family we didn't. We didn't talk that way. We said things like, "There's a box in there for the nails," or my father would say, "Be quiet while I sleep."

My father's name was Fishel Shilsky and he was an Orthodox rabbi. He escaped from the Russian army and snuck over the Polish border and married my mother in an arranged marriage. He used to say he was under fire when he ran off from the army, and his ability to slick himself out of anything that wasn't good for him stayed with him for as long as I knew him. Tateh, we called him, That means father in Yiddish. He was a fox, especially when it came to money. He was short, dark, hairy, and gruff. He wore a white shirt, black pants, and a tallis on his shirtsleeve, and that was like his uniform, He'd wear those black pants till they glazed and shined and were ripe enough to stand in the corner by themselves, but God help you if those pants were coming your way in a hurry, because he was nobody to fool with, my father. He was hard as a rock.

My mother was named Hudis and she was the exact opposite of him, gentle and meek. She was born in 1896 in the town of Dobryzn, Poland, but if you checked there today, nobody would remember her family because any Jews who didn't leave before Hitler got through with Poland were wiped out in the Holocaust. She was pretty about the face. Dark hair, high cheekbones, but she had polio. It paralyzed her left side and left her in overall poor health. Her left hand was useless. It was bent at the wrist and held close to her chest, She was nearly blind in her left eye and walked with a severe limp, dragging her left foot behind her. She was a quiet woman, my sweet Mameh, That's what we called her, Mameh. She's one person in this world I didn't do right by....

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Interviews & Essays

November 13, 1997, renowned journalist James McBride joined BarnesandNoble@aol to discuss his memoir, THE COLOR OF WATER, which explores his white mother's Orthodox Jewish past as well as his own heritage as a man between black and white.


VogelBN: Good evening, Mr. McBride, and welcome to BarnesandNoble@aol! We're thrilled that you could join us!! We're brimming with wonderful questions from the audience, so whenever you're ready....

James McBride: Delighted to be here!


Question: Mr. McBride, what an honor! I am leading a book club tomorrow on your book and am anxious to find out why you decided to share all this info with all the rest of us?

James McBride: Well, I always wondered where my mother came from. It was something that was on my mind for many, many years.


Question: Judaism is passed down via the mother. Have you ever considered embracing the faith? Why or why not?

James McBride: I've considered it, but Christianity always worked for me. I grew up as a Christian. If my children decided to embrace the faith, I'd be more than delighted.


Question: As I read THE COLOR OF WATER, I kept wondering, what was your mother's motivation to become a Christian? Do you think it was an effort to become closer to your father? Or did she have a revelation of faith?

James McBride: No. It happened because after her mother died, she converted to Christianity. I think that it was the loss of her mother and the loss of her family and the love of my father and the embrace of the Christian church that pushed her into Christianity.


Question: Did you enjoy doing the "Rosie O'Donnell Show"?

James McBride: I did indeed. I kissed her seven times.


Question: What advice do you give to a novice like myself about entering the professional writing field?

James McBride: Well, writing teaches writing. Many books have been written between 5 and 7 in the morning. Never give up. It's a great catharsis.


Question: Did you ever harbor any anger against your mother for her dishonesty? It seems that her secret was important to her sense of self, and thus valid, but still....

James McBride: A very good question. I don't think so. I've thought about that a lot. I'm not sure if there was any other thing she could do. We didn't really have the time to think about her past that much. So it wasn't that great an issue. I was never angry at her for that. I think a lot of my anger was self-directed, meaning it had to do with my own feelings of inadequacy.


Question: What would you say to your mother's father if you met him today?

James McBride: I have no bitterness toward him. I'm sorry that he was the dysfunctional person that he was, but I certainly don't harbor any bitterness toward him. I guess I would say hello.


Question: How did finding out about your mother's history influence your own sense of identity?

James McBride: It gave me a tremendous sense of self. It made me feel complete. It gave me a sense of peace. It imbued in me my own sense of my "Jewishness." I don't consider myself qualified to go around claiming to be a Jew. But I'm proud to be one anyway. I like who I am.


Question: I respect your mother's strengthraising 12 kids on her own. What sustained her after both her husbands had passed on?

James McBride: She was a very religious woman. And her faith in God is what has sustained her.


Question: Most of what you write is nonfiction. Do you write fiction? Which do you feel more comfortable with? How do they differ for you?

James McBride: Before I started writing Quincy Jones's biography for Doubleday, which I began last February, I was working on a novel for Riverhead. I enjoyed it immensely, though it was much more difficult than nonfiction. I plan to finish that novel after finishing Quincy's biography. That's due in late 1998.


Question: THE COLOR OF WATER chronicles each time you asked your mother about her past. Is this book a record of your personal odyssey to find out who you are?

James McBride: In a way, yes. I wrote the book partly because I didn't know who I was. And I realized I couldn't discover who I was until I discovered who my mother was.


Question: You attended a segregated school in Wilmington, Delaware. Could you comment on your experience there and how it differed from the schools in New York?

James McBride: The schools in New York were better. The variety of students added to my education. There were good things about the segregated school. The teachers were very kind and very educated, but I got a far better education in the New York City schools that were integrated.


Question: I've read that you are a very talented musician, although I've never heard anything by you. What do you play? What draws you to music? Do you feel that performing music affects your writing?

James McBride: I used to perform music. No longer. I wrote songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington, and Gary Burton. I'm literally in the recording studio now, working on a demo for a Disney audition to write the score for one of their theatrical musicals. I play saxophoneall the saxophonesand I play piano and I write. I started on piano and clarinet as a boy. My mother encouraged music around the house. And no, performing music doesn't affect my writing. I always loved music, even as a boy. I've just always been attracted to it.


Question: In your book you mention, "Mommy was the wrong color for black pride and black power." Could you elaborate on that statement from a modern-day historical perspective?

James McBride: At the time, black power was a huge deal in my neighborhood, and we were all imbued with a sense of black pride and black consciousness. In that context, she did not fit.


Question: Your childhood was hard, but you seem to successfully remember the good times. What's your favorite childhood memory? What were you doing? Who were you with?

James McBride: My favorite childhood memory is swimming in the Red Hook swimming pool with my mother, brothers, and sisters. I remember the strength in her hands and the firm way in which she held me.


Question: Americans like to classify. Any federal form you fill out asks for your race black, white, Native American, etc. As someone who could feasibly check all those boxes, which do you choose, if any?

James McBride: I would prefer to choose "other," but I'll always choose "black." I think there should be one box human being. But in the real world, I choose black.


Question: Could you please recommend your favorite jazz album?

James McBride: I guess I would have to answer that with three. "It Might as Well Be Swing," which is Frank Sinatra with the Count Basie Orchestra, with Quincy Jones as the arranger; "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis; and "Stolen Moments" by Oliver Nelson. My favorite tenor saxophone player is Billy Harper.


Question: I haven't read the book yet, but I am fascinated by the title. What is "the color of water"?

James McBride: When I was a little boy, I would ask my mother, "What color is God?" I asked her if God was white or black. She said God was the color of water.


Question: Have you seen the film "Ethnic Notions"? What's your reaction to it?

James McBride: I'm sorry but I haven't seen it.


Question: First, I really enjoyed the book. Second, there's been a lot written lately about the memoir and its form of narrative, with your book and Frank McCourt's. How do you distinguish between telling a great story and telling the truth?

James McBride: What you have to do as a writer is find the gatepost moments of your story. The points of highest drama that prove your point.


Question: Mr. McBride, I was really moved by the scene where you brought your mother back to her hometown, and to her first real friend, Frances. Did your mother feel it was worth it to come back to this place that caused her such pain, to be reunited with Frances?

James McBride: It was a catharsis for Mommy. It was painful, but wonderful and terrifyingly exhilarating for her. I was moved by it. My sister Judy was there. It was just as moving for her.


Question: I found it interesting that you said your household was truly ruled by the women there, but in the end, it was you who told the story of your mother. Had it ever occurred to any of your siblings to tell her story? Were they just as interested as you?

James McBride: I don't think it ever occurred to any of them, but they were just as interested. My siblings felt that God had put this story in my heart, and they felt it was appropriate that I be the one to tell it.


Question: When you were writing from your mom's perspective, how did you change your tone so it really sounded like her?

James McBride: I just climbed into her skin. And felt what it felt like to be her. It wasn't hard -- she is my mother. Eighty percent of those words were hers.


Question: Can you tell us about the novel that you are currently working on?

James McBride: I'm working on a novel about a group of black soldiers who stumble upon a group of Jewish refugees after World War II.


VogelBN: Thanks so much for joining us, Mr. McBride. We are so glad to have had you, and we hope that you will join us again with your next book!

James McBride: I'm honored to be the recipient of so much love from so many people. My mother, myself, and my siblings feel truly blessed beyond words.


VogelBN: Your readers thank you. Have a wonderful night!

James McBride: Thank you!


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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 373 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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 August 19, 2014

    Thoughts; Comments on others' reviews

    The Color of Water is, in my opinion, a very interesting and generally amazing read. It is a memoir so although it is technically nonfiction it reads like a novel for the majority of the book. James McBride and his spirited mother, Ruth, both lead fascinating lifestyles. Ruth's tragic home life and unsatisfactory upbringing lead to her raising her children in a very no-nonsense, chaotic, straightforward way. This woman is amazing. All of the one-star ratings are due to the lack of text in the free sample (none of the actual book is included, just reviews) or the fact that the NOOK book is more expensive than the paper copy. The latter is due to the fact that this version of the ebook is the tenth anniversary copy. Both of thos reasons are legitimate complaints, but it is highly inconsiderate to rate the book one star. If you are complaining about something that is not James McBride's fault it would be best to rate the book whatever the overview page says is he average rating and then write your issue using the heading "complaint." That being said, this is one awesome book (especially if you have a nonfiction requirement)!

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  • Posted April 30, 2014

    I really enjoyed reading the book the color of water .this heart

    I really enjoyed reading the book the color of water .this heart warming book is the story of James Mcbride and his mother Ruth. Mcbride is a young man trying to find his way through life while find out who he is out who he really as a whole on the other hand it also tells the life story of his mother Ruth and the many hardships in life that she had to face nut didnt allow to break her she turn it in to love ,The love of faith in the love for her children

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