The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
James McBride grows up questioning his identity as a black child raised by a white mother with eleven black siblings in a poor housing project in Brooklyn. Ruth McBride Jordan is fiercely protective of her children and evasive about her childhood and past. James spends a large part of his life embarrassed by his mother and questions everything while she artfully and sometimes gruffly dodges his inquisitions. When he asks her what color God is, she replies that, "God is the color of water," and she generally lives her life according to that principle. Her expectations for life and living transcend the human construct of race, but James struggles to find himself. James and his siblings eventually all become successful college graduates, and James begins to uncover his mother's hidden past and roots in Jewish traditions. I absolutely love how McBride switches back and forth between his and his mother's stories. Ruth is a tough woman, and her memories and reflections are both inspiring and tragic. This is not just a story of James' life, but a moving tribute to his mother. He understands who he is after finding home and self in her memories and acknowledging her sacrifices and strength. I've been meaning to read this for a long time and wish I had sooner. This book gave me hope and reminds me all is not lost when chaos takes hold in the world around us. We can all find ourselves again. We can all find our center, our home, our worth, and that orbit is always pulling us back to the middle. This book is a precious pearl settled softly in my heart. It's a rare one you absolutely need to add to your reading list.
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