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The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to…

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother (1996)

by James McBride

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4,543921,544 (3.96)157
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    Off-White: a memoir by Laurie Gunst (Manthepark)
    Manthepark: An interesting coming-of-age story of a Jewish girl’s connections with the African-American and white communities in Richmond, Virginia, and how those connections carried forward into her adult life.

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Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
I picked this up at Bookcrossing, I had never heard of the author but it was fascinating surprise. I don't think I would truly call it a memoir, though that is probably it's category. McBride, as the title says, is a black man with a white mother and this is his story of understanding her after a lieftime of mystery about who she really was. The chapters alternate from taped talks with his mother, finally revealing her life story, and his memories of growing up in her extremely chaotic household. It could have been disjointed but it worked remarkably well, the writing is excellent and the voice of his mother is so strong. Her life is heart breaking at times but she seems both an amazing woman and perhaps a hard one to be around at times. The only weak part is the final two chapters that sum up and feel a bit stilted. But overall, really a fantastic read.
  amyem58 | Jan 29, 2019 |
I wonder how many other amazing non-fiction books I have missed over the years? This book is 20 years old. I read it because it is on the summer reading assignment list for our Junior Honors English students.

The author's mother is a Polish immigrant, who came to the US in 1923 with her Rabbi father and polio stricken mother. She grew up in southern Virginia, an outsider living a life of hard work and poverty. The author, her son, is bi-racial, growing up African American in Harlem, NY. The book is the story he finally pulled from his mother, because he just had to know about this strange white woman who gave birth to him and his 11 siblings -- an what an incredible woman she was. ( )
  ioplibrarian | Aug 26, 2018 |
I came to this memoir well after many of my friends who immediately told me they loved it. A white Jewish, Southern women lives a life in the North married to two fine husbands, both black, and raises 12 children to be proud of. The love in this book overflows. I listened to the audiobook read by Laine Kazan and Andre Braugher which added a lot to the experience. I learned a lot about the life of the 1940s and 1950s, but even more about this man's family. ( )
  abycats | May 11, 2018 |
The title comes from the author's mother's answer to one of her children's questions about the color of God and was meant to signify that God doesn't see the color of our skin but rather sees our hearts and minds. In this book, the author explores his roots after he finally gets his mother to divulge them. James McBride grew up a black boy/man with a mother who called herself light-skinned. Only many years later did he discover that she was a caucasian Jewish woman who chose to align herself with the black world.

For a while the book switches between the mother's recollections of her life (italics) and the author's remembrances of his life growing up (regular text). The author also attempts to return to some locations his mother mentions to see if anyone there remembers her or her family. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Oct 8, 2017 |
Author James McBride's mother, Ruth, rarely spoke of her past during McBride's childhood in Queens. McBride knew his mother as a hard-working devout church-going Christian who was determined that all twelve of her children receive a college education. Her past was nothing like her present. Ruth McBride Jordan had been Rachel Shilsky in Suffolk, Virginia, the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. Her family had emigrated from Poland to the US in the 1920s when Rachel/Ruth was two. By the time McBride was born, Ruth and her first husband, Andrew McBride, had founded the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn. Ruth eventually opened up her past to her son. He writes his mother's life story in chapters that alternate between McBride's childhood memory of his mother and her recollections of her early life and her transformation from Rachel Shilsky to Ruth McBride Jordan.

This book is as much about McBride's coming to terms with his mixed race heritage as it is about his mother's life. The title comes from a childhood conversation between McBride and his mother. McBride and his siblings were conscious of the fact that their mother didn't look like them. When he pressed his mother about his race – was he black or white – she responded that he was “a human being.” And what about God, he asked? God is “the color of water.”

Ruth McBride Jordan left the world a better place than she found it. The world needs more people like her. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Jul 29, 2017 |
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I wrote this book for my mother, and her mother, and mothers everywhere.
In memory of Hudis Shilsky, Rev. Andrew D. McBride, and Hunter L. Jordan, Sr.
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As a boy, I never knew where my mother was from -- where she was born, who her parents were.
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Book description
About a black man who has a white mother and a complex with issues of race, religion, and identity.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 159448192X, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:27 -0400)

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An African American man describes life as the son of a white mother and Black father, reflecting on his mother's contributions to his life and his confusion over his own identity.

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