I picked out The Color of Water by James McBride from my English teacher’s bookshelf on a whim. I was looking for a novel of some sort, but the title of this book immediately hooked me. This nonfiction story is a tribute from a black man to his white mother. Going back and forth between his own childhood and upbringing and his mother’s life, the author slowly reveals to the reader the drastic differences between his world and his mother’s world, while also showing us that they are not that different.
Ruth McBride, James McBride’s mother, left behind her conservative Jewish family and religion in the 1940’s to marry a black man, and had a total of 12 children. As an adult she faced and overcame racism, prejudice, and poverty to raise her children properly. I finished the book in two days.
At first I didn’t think this would be a very interesting book. However, reading The Color of Water introduced me to a kind of writing that is brutally clear and to the point while also managing to stay full of insight and be inspiring. I would recommend this book to readers age 14 and up because there are descriptions of drug abuse and violence as well as mentions of domestic rape and abuse.
The Color of Water showed me a part of society I had rarely encountered before, and gave me a bigger insight on individuals who defied all of society’s norms in a time before the civil rights movement and during the period of European persecution and North American dislike of Jews.
-Mariam, (Dusen)Berry Blogger and member of the River Teen Advisory Board