Friday, December 19, 2014

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride, 291 pages

It took me months to read this book because I rarely found time to sit and read.  However, that is not a reflection on the book.  It was totally engrossing every time I sat down to read it.

James McBride is one of twelve children born to Ruth McBride Jordan in the projects in New York City.

The book alternates between chapters written by James, and chapters dictated by Ruth.  When James was a child his mother never admitted to being white.  She was born an Orthodox Jew named Rachel Shilsky.  Her family left Poland and emigrated to America when she was a child.  Her father was a rabbi who also operated a general store in Virginia.  Family life was difficult.

Rachel left Virginia after high school and started life again in New York City in the early 1940s.  There she fell in love with James McBride, a black man.  She left the Jewish faith and became Ruth.  Her first husband died when she was pregnant with their eighth child (James).  A few years later she fell in love again and married Hunter Jordan, with whom she had four more children.  Hunter died when James was a teenager.

Ruth's will helped her leave her past and raise her twelve children, all of whom went to college and are successful professionals.  Ruth was a woman who never gave up or in.  I'm not doing this powerful book justice.  Read it for yourself and see.

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