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.
As a boy in Brooklyn, James McBride knew that 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!" When James asked what the colour of God was, she said, "God is the colour of water". As an adult, McBride finally persuaded his mother to tell the story. Her story was of a rabbi's daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled Harlem, married a black man, founded a Baptist church, and put 12 children through college. This is James McBride's tribute to his eccentric and determined mother, and an exploration of what family means.
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