The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The New York Times best-selling story from the author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction.
Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her 12 Black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. The son of a Black minister and a woman who would not admit she was White, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his 11 siblings in the poor, all-Black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn.
In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. At 17, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a Black minister and founded the all-Black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water", Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race.
Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self-realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches listeners of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 46 minutes|
|Narrator||JD Jackson, Susan Denaker|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 25, 2014|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #7,988 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#6 in Parent & Adult Children
#17 in Cultural & Regional Biographies (Audible Books & Originals)
#26 in African American Demographic Studies (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2020
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Every time he has to read a book for school, I have to take the number of pages in the book, divide them by the number of days he has to READ it, and mark each day's reading block with a post it page marker. (example: 294 pages % 14 days = 21 pages per day! LOL)
That being said, this book was his 11th grade summer reading assignment and I didn't have to force him to read it! He read more than was required each day and finished the book ahead of schedule. I'd come home from work and tell him to do his reading and he would say he already had!! He even commented that the book was "not that bad" !!! WHO IS THIS CHILD?!
Admittedly, he said he knew that he was laughing at things that probably weren't supposed to be funny in the book, but whatever! I don't even care. This book engaged my son in a way no other author has managed to do. KUDOS and THANK YOU to James McBride!
Through a series of traumatic events, she raised twelve children. Her son James wrote the book as a tribute to her. It took a lot of urging to convince his mother to write this story. It crosses the barriers of skin color which, for me, propelled the book to a better understanding of the struggles of mixed races of all kinds.
I highly recommend this book. It is life-changing.
James Mcbride is one of twelve mixed race siblings, with a white, single, jewish mom, during the 1940’s. During that time, there was a lot of racial discrimination, along with the holocaust occurring. Throughout his memoir James not only shares his life story, but Ruth's (his mom) as well. This makes for an even more impactful story because we are seeing how Ruth grew up, and learning about the different events that has happened in her life. Knowing her background while reading the story, allows us to understand the way she has raised her children and how she handles different situations with life and/or her kids.
I’m not a mom, but I know raising 12 kids is an arduous effort. Ruth wasn’t able to keep everyone in check all the time, no matter how hard she tried. When James step-father passed away, James started to head down a bad path. His grades slipped like a man on ice, along with his behavior. He started getting involved with drugs and petty theft. When Ruth learned that James grades were slipping, and that he also was skipping school she sent him to his sister’s house down in Louisville, Kentucky. James was a mad as a bull. James ended up spending 3 consecutive summers down there. While he was down there he met a man named Chicken Man. Chicken Man played a very influential part in James life, they first met on the “corner” where a lot of the druggies or drunks could be found. While James and Chicken Man were standing on the corner, he explained to James that “everybody on this corner is smart, you ain’t no smarter than anybody here”(Mcbride 150). The Chicken Man shakes James belief that his knowledge makes him smarter than someone else. The Chicken Man shows James that all people are smart, it’s just what they do with their knowledge individualizes them.
This part of the book impacted me the me the most because i’ve started to head down bad paths in life simply because I didn’t know how to deal with the pain or emotion. During these times, my two coaches, along with my parents, are the ones that helped get me back on track. They showed me what could happen if I continued to head down the path I was on. Everyone should have a role model in their life, for James that was chicken man or his mom, and for me; my parents, along with my coaches.
This book changed my view on life and how no matter how hard times get you still need to keep going. Life is a mountain that we must continue to climb, no matter how many times we slip.It covered racial discrimination, how you can go from a bad situation and turn things around, how far religion can take you, and what you can accomplish with perseverance. James mom came from a dad who had molested her, but she didn’t let that hold her back. She went on to be married 2 times, and have 12 mixed race kids during the 1940s. She kept most of the kids in check ¾ of the time, and was able to provide for them all. Ruth, “wipes her memory instantly and with purpose” (271).She allows the bad to roll right off because she knows she has responsibilities to her kids. She is formidable, she is knowledgeable, she is unexpendable. The way Ruth raised her kids, and dealt with her own life is impeccable.
Thank you James Mcbride for giving me a new perspective on how I few things, along with having a new genre of books to read.
This should be required reading in every high school in the country. It addresses race relations; religious differences; family dynamics. And it is a loving tribute to a most remarkable mother.
The writing is outstanding; the paragraph that gives us this memoir's title is one of the most (if not THE most) memorable paragraphs I've ever read, and it is all I can do to keep from quoting it while I'm recommending this book!
I cannot believe it has taken me so many years to read "The Color of Water.". McBride has a masterpiece here.
Top reviews from other countries
All in all a wonderful true story and a brilliantly unique way to tell it.