The Color of Water

My independent reading book is The Color of Water by James McBride. It’s A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.  There are so many good reviews about the book.  The Color of Water won the 1997 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for literary. It was the ALA Notable Book of the Year and spent more than two years on The New York Times bestseller list.

            The “Color of Water” is about two characters; Ruth and James. Ruth’s role is to make sure her children are taught everything they can be taught. She was born on the 1st of April 1921 in Poland. Her family fled to America and settled in Suffolk, Virginia. She lived with her parents and siblings. Her parent’s relationship was worthless. Her father constantly threatened to send her mom to Poland and he sexually abused Ruth.  At the age of 17 she decided to leave for New York. There she got married and had 9 children by a black man. Her husband died so she remarried, producing another 3 children. When he passed she took care of them.

Ruth has 12 young biracial children. They always wonder why their mother is so light meanwhile they are dark. When this question came up she often answered, “you’re a human being, educate yourself or you’ll be a nobody.” It’s hard for the youngest child because his sibling pick on him. Their mother doesn’t make a lot of money so they fight for food.  James, the author sees his mom as an embarrassment and is often worried that someone will hurt her. He’s afraid because she’s the only white woman living in a Negro dominant neighborhood

  James deals with a person vs. society conflict. He thinks that the community will not accept his mother because she’s “light-skinned.” I liked the book but it can really be confusing at times because it is told from 2 different points of views.  However I would not recommend this book to a friend because it can get complicated.