Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"The Color of Water"
James McBride

James McBride grew up one of twelve siblings in the all-black housing projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn, the son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit that she was white.

The author alternates between his own first person voice and his mother's own words.
For the most part, the book takes place in the past tense, as it recounts the past lives of James and his mother Ruth. James uses the present tense when he talks about his current life, activities and beliefs.

Ruth McBride was born to Polish Jewish immigrants. Her early childhood was spent traveling the country as her father, Tateh, looked for work as a rabbi. He eventually gave that idea up and settled in Virginia and opened a store in the mostly black section of town where he overcharged his customers and expressed racist opinions.

Ruth moved to Harlem to escape her abusive father and the South. In Harlem, Ruth met Dennis a black man, to whom she was immediately attracted. She married him, converted to Christianity, and became very involved with church activities.

James weaves his own life story into his mother's story. Ruth's philosophies on race, religion, and work influence him greatly. Ruth sent her children to the best schools. She demanded respect and hard work from her children, and issues of race and identiy took secondary importance to moral beliefs.

This is an amazing book of a woman's courage, strength, faith and love for her family. I highly recommend this book. You can find it in the non-fiction section of the library.

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