Friday, February 25, 2011

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

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White MotherThe Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was enthralling and wonderful. I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book(a Thrift Store Score!), but was drawn into it from the moment I started reading it.

James McBride is a mixed-race American, with an African-American father and Polish-Jewish mother, known by those in her adult life as Ruth, and Mommy to her children. His father died unexpectedly before he was born, and he spent his entire childhood and much of his early adulthood knowing nothing of his mother's past. This book is the result of his undying curiosity and his mother's eventual willingness, in her later years, to re-open what she had locked away many years ago.

McBride tries, and mostly succeeds, at not sugar coating the terrible childhood his mother endured and ran from, as well as the effects it had on him and his 11 siblings growing up in the Brooklyn projects. The story is told with alternating chapters of Ruth's harsh upbringing and McBride's childhood chronology and search for "self", with cross-references tying his mother's experiences with why his childhood was the way it was. He makes no illusions to it being easy, but he paints a vivid picture of a strong woman making tough decisions, standing her ground, and in the end, coming out on top. The story is well built, and the frequent change from past to present makes it easier to see the parallels in the lives of mother and child.

This book was well written, inspiring, and deeply moving. I highly recommend it.

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