Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Color of Water by James McBride


This national bestseller tells the story of James McBride and his mother—a rabbi's daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a church, and put 12 children through college.

Salon - 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.

Review: This book was on my nephew’s summer reading list. My sister was discussing it and I thought it sounded like a great book. I enjoyed the book. It really makes you think about how much has changed (depending on where you live) and how strong people can be. His mother was such a smart lady and to have raised 12 children and put them through college….unbelievable. This is on truly amazing story. Thanks for my sister (and nephew) for recommending the book.

I am going to ask my nephew and sister if they would be willing to write a review too!  I hope they say yes.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review Jill - this book sounds very interesting and I bet could end up on a reading list for Haley someday too so I might just check it out!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.