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

James McBride
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 7.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

13 Oct 1998
As a boy in Brooklyn's Red Hook projects, James McBride knew his mother was different. But when he asked about it, she'd simply say 'I'm light-skinned.' Later he wondered if he was different too, and asked his mother if he was black or white. 'You're a human being,' she snapped. 'Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody!' And when James asked what colour God was, she said 'God is the colour of water.' As an adult, McBride finally persuaded his mother to tell her story - the story of a rabbi's daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a Baptist church, and put twelve children through college.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (13 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747538328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747538325
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Order this book ... and please don't be put off by its pallid subtitle, A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, which doesn't begin to do justice to the utterly unique and moving story contained within. The Color of Water tells the remarkable story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised. Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America soon after birth; as an adult she moved to New York City, leaving her family and faith behind in Virginia. Jordan met and married a black man, making her isolation even more profound. The book is a success story, a testament to one woman's true heart, solid values and indomitable will. Ruth Jordan battled not only racism but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavered. In telling her story--along with her son's--The Color of Water addresses racial identity with compassion, insight and realism. It is, in a word, inspiring, and you will finish it with unalloyed admiration for a flawed but remarkable individual. And, perhaps, a little more faith in us all.

Review

'An extraordinary story, beautifully told.' -- Jewish Chronicle

'An extrodinary story....Rich and dynamic' -- The Voice

'Fascinating reading' -- Maxim

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRIBUTE TO MUM... 4 Sep 2003
By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book is, indeed, a tribute to the author's mother. In it, the author, a man whose mother was white and his father black, tells two stories: that of his mother and his own. Tautly written in spare, clear prose, it is a wonderful story of a bi-racial family who succeeded and achieved the American dream, despite the societal obstacles placed in its way.
The author's mother was a Polish Orthodox Jew who migrated to America at the age of two with her family during the early nineteen twenties. They ultimately settled down in Virginia, where she led an isolated and lonely life; shunned by whites because she was Jewish and shunned by blacks because she was white. She was raised in a predominantly black neighborhood, where her father, a despicable and harsh man who brutalized his handicapped wife, ran a local grocery store, where he priced gouged his black clientele.
She left home and moved to New York when she was nineteen and never looked back. She met and married the author's father, a black man, when mixed race marriages were still frowned upon by both whites and blacks. Still, she always felt more comfortable around blacks than around whites. When he died sixteen years later, she married another black man who nurtured her eight children by the author's father and proceeded to give her four more children.
The author tells of his childhood, of his family, and of the issue of race that ultimately colored his life while growing up in predominantly black neighborhoods, where his mother stood out like a sore thumb because of the color of her skin. It was always an issue his mother avoided discussing with him, as for her it was not an issue. It was not until the author wrote this book that his mother discussed the issue of race within the context of her own life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Everyday life and added complexities; an abusive parent/death of a parent /racism /sexism /poverty /oppression / drugs. That this family thrived against all odds is truly a tribute to their mother, father and stepfather. Mr. McBride's writing gave me clear visual pictures of the chaos of the crowded apartment, the liquor store corner, etc. He also gave me a vivid emotional "picture" that made my stomach lurch with disgust at the mean spiritedness directed toward his mother and my eyes tear with hurt and sadness. What a wonderful, personal documentary on the history of racism - from the persecution in Europe to the streets of the US. A well written book for many ages to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great tribute 11 April 2005
Format:Paperback
When I first picked up "The Color of Water", I never thought it would be such a moving story. In fact it is one of the most gripping and inspirational books I have read. I adore it. I read it over two years ago and still remember its first impact. The book is a combination of two profound stories coming from a white mother and her black son. It is actually about an Orthodox Jewish girl who emigrated from Poland with her family to Virginia and escapes the life she had ever known to New York, where she ended up marrying a black man and living in the black community. In all, she raises her twelve children from her two marriages and despite the odds against her and children successfully managed her family into a success story. Flawed but genuine, strong and committed she served as an inspiration for people in imperfect circumstances.
The author's voice is strong, captivating and authentic. His intelligent mind served as a perfect repertoire to make this book the compelling read that it is today. I read it again when I had finished, so as to get the complete feel of the book . This story is sweet, intimate and more. It can make you cry and still be strong. I strongly recommend this beautiful work.
Also recommended: DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, EFURU
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VALENTINE FOR MUM... 13 Feb 2005
By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:School & Library Binding
This book is, indeed, a tribute to the author's mother. In it, the author, a man whose mother was white and his father black, tells two stories: that of his mother and his own. Tautly written in spare, clear prose, it is a wonderful story of a bi-racial family who succeeded and achieved the American dream, despite the societal obstacles placed in its way.
The author's mother was a Polish Orthodox Jew who migrated to America at the age of two with her family during the early nineteen twenties. They ultimately settled down in Virginia, where she led an isolated and lonely life; shunned by whites because she was Jewish and shunned by blacks because she was white. She was raised in a predominantly black neighborhood, where her father, a despicable and harsh man who brutalized his handicapped wife, ran a local grocery store, where he priced gouged his black clientele.
She left home and moved to New York when she was nineteen and never looked back. She met and married the author's father, a black man, when mixed race marriages were still frowned upon by both whites and blacks. Still, she always felt more comfortable around blacks than around whites. When he died sixteen years later, she married another black man who nurtured her eight children by the author's father and proceeded to give her four more children.
The author tells of his childhood, of his family, and of the issue of race that ultimately colored his life while growing up in predominantly black neighborhoods, where his mother stood out like a sore thumb because of the color of her skin. It was always an issue his mother avoided discussing with him, as for her it was not an issue. It was not until the author wrote this book that his mother discussed the issue of race within the context of her own life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Brilliantly and honestly written - I loved this book. It is hard to remember at some stages of this poignant tale that this is not a novel but describing two people's lives.
Published 3 months ago by Joodle
1.0 out of 5 stars People make bad choices in life
Does that mean we should worship them for it. I lost patience with someone who made her life so difficult by her own choices.
Published 7 months ago by &
5.0 out of 5 stars very moving and insightful
this book was unputdownable; extraordinary characters: the mother, the children, the black husbands, the awful father and the sad mother and sister... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs. Lydia E. Hirst
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A fantastic book and very interesting. If you are interested in other cultures you will love this well written book.
Published 14 months ago by Fiona Norman
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful book
This book should be read by everyone. It is about courage in a world not experienced by most of us. How would any of us have coped in this same situation.
Published 18 months ago by Barbara Welch
4.0 out of 5 stars The color of water
I read this book as i am part of a book club and it was a chosen book. I am normally not keen on reading biographies, especially when it is people who i am not aware of. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Maura
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartfelt and truly personal book
This book is a heartfelt tribute to his mother, its very personal and engaging. I connected with his mothers story as my parents are also immigrants, and know from them how... Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2012 by Ruthie
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing family
When I finished reading 'The Color of Water' last night I held it for a long time and just looked at it. Then I kissed it and hugged it to me and cried. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2010 by Maisie Scotland
3.0 out of 5 stars Colour of water
I enjoyed this book Found it a bit confusing at first with the different chapters from different people.
Published on 6 Oct 2009 by Judith A. Forster
3.0 out of 5 stars Color of water review
I liked the story in this book however it is not the easiest to follow because the authors life story interchanges with his mothers life story every other chapter. i.e. Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2008 by K.E
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