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am 25. Februar 2005
When I first picked up "The Color of Water", I never thought it would be such a moving story. In fact it is one of the most gripping and inspirational books I have read. I adore it. I read it over two years ago and still remember its first impact. The book is a combination of two profound stories coming from a white mother and her black son. It is actually about an Orthodox Jewish girl who emigrated from Poland with her family to Virginia and escapes the life she had ever known to New York, where she ended up marrying a black man and living in the black community. In all, she raises her twelve children from her two marriages and despite the odds against her and children successfully managed her family into a success story. Flawed but genuine, strong and committed she served as an inspiration for people in imperfect circumstances.
The author's voice is strong, captivating and authentic. His intelligent mind served as a perfect repertoire to make this book the compelling read that it is today. I read it again when I had finished, so as to get the complete feel of the book . This story is sweet, intimate and more. It can make you cry and still be strong. I strongly recommend this beautiful work.
Also recommended: DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, EFURU
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am 22. Januar 2000
"The Color of Water" by James McBride is a beautifully written and memorable tribute by a black man to his white Jewish mother. I was so touched by the story of Ruth McBride Jordan and her 12 black children. Ruth, born Rachel Shilsky, is the daughter of a failed Orthodox rabbi and his handicapped wife,growing up in the South. She was abused by her father and was deserted by her family when she fled to Harlem and married a black man. As a widow she raised her 12 children by herself. There was very little money and hard times. However, she always instilled in her family her strong faith in God and her powerful belief in the value of a good education. She guided them through college and graduate school to become professional and successful adults.James McBride is such a gifted writer and the story just flows. I especially enjoyed the format of the book (each chapter switching back and forth from the life of the mother to the life of the son). I am so thankful to the author for sharing his wonderful story and for introduing his fascinating mother who said it all when she told him that God is "The Color of Water". I recommend you read this book....You won't be disappointed..It's the BEST!
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am 13. Dezember 2005
This book is, indeed, a tribute to the author's mother. In it, the author, a man whose mother was white and his father black, tells two stories: that of his mother and his own. Tautly written in spare, clear prose, it is a wonderful story of a bi-racial family who succeeded and achieved the American dream, despite the societal obstacles placed in its way.
The author's mother was a Polish Orthodox Jew who migrated to America at the age of two with her family during the early nineteen twenties. They ultimately settled down in Virginia, where she led an isolated and lonely life; shunned by whites because she was Jewish and shunned by blacks because she was white. She was raised in a predominantly black neighborhood, where her father, a despicable and harsh man who brutalized his handicapped wife, ran a local grocery store, where he priced gouged his black clientele.
She left home and moved to New York when she was nineteen and never looked back. She met and married the author's father, a black man, when mixed race marriages were still frowned upon by both whites and blacks. Still, she always felt more comfortable around blacks than around whites. When he died sixteen years later, she married another black man who nurtured her eight children by the author's father and proceeded to give her four more children.
The author tells of his childhood, of his family, and of the issue of race that ultimately colored his life while growing up in predominantly black neighborhoods, where his mother stood out like a sore thumb because of the color of her skin. It was always an issue his mother avoided discussing with him, as for her it was not an issue. It was not until the author wrote this book that his mother discussed the issue of race within the context of her own life. From this dialogue emerges a fascinating look at the issues of race, as well as religion, and how it impacts on an individual's identity within our race conscious society.
It is also a very personal story. While the author's family was economically disadvantaged, his eccentric and independent mother always stressed education. She was a strict disciplinarian who brooked no nonsense from her twelve children. A convert to Christianity through her first husband, with whom she founded a Baptist church, she provided her children with the will to succeed. Consequently, all twelve eventually went to college and did her proud. The story of this unique family is told from two distinct, parallel perspectives: that of the author and that of his mother. While both are interesting, it is his mother's story that dominates this beautifully written book, which is, indeed, a tribute to her. It is truly a story told from the heart, as the love that the author has for his mother is evident with every written word.
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am 16. März 2005
This book is, indeed, a tribute to the author's mother. In it, the author, a man whose mother was white and his father black, tells two stories: that of his mother and his own. Tautly written in spare, clear prose, it is a wonderful story of a bi-racial family who succeeded and achieved the American dream, despite the societal obstacles placed in its way.
The author's mother was a Polish Orthodox Jew who migrated to America at the age of two with her family during the early nineteen twenties. They ultimately settled down in Virginia, where she led an isolated and lonely life; shunned by whites because she was Jewish and shunned by blacks because she was white. She was raised in a predominantly black neighborhood, where her father, a despicable and harsh man who brutalized his handicapped wife, ran a local grocery store, where he priced gouged his black clientele.
She left home and moved to New York when she was nineteen and never looked back. She met and married the author's father, a black man, when mixed race marriages were still frowned upon by both whites and blacks. Still, she always felt more comfortable around blacks than around whites. When he died sixteen years later, she married another black man who nurtured her eight children by the author's father and proceeded to give her four more children.
The author tells of his childhood, of his family, and of the issue of race that ultimately colored his life while growing up in predominantly black neighborhoods, where his mother stood out like a sore thumb because of the color of her skin. It was always an issue his mother avoided discussing with him, as for her it was not an issue. It was not until the author wrote this book that his mother discussed the issue of race within the context of her own life. From this dialogue emerges a fascinating look at the issues of race, as well as religion, and how it impacts on an individual's identity within our race conscious society.
It is also a very personal story. While the author's family was economically disadvantaged, his eccentric and independent mother always stressed education. She was a strict disciplinarian who brooked no nonsense from her twelve children. A convert to Christianity through her first husband, with whom she founded a Baptist church, she provided her children with the will to succeed. Consequently, all twelve eventually went to college and did her proud. The story of this unique family is told from two distinct, parallel perspectives: that of the author and that of his mother. While both are interesting, it is his mother's story that dominates this beautifully written book, which is, indeed, a tribute to her. It is truly a story told from the heart, as the love that the author has for his mother is evident with every written word.
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am 25. Februar 2005
When I first picked up "The Color of Water", I never thought it would be such a moving story. In fact it is one of the most gripping and inspirational books I have read. I adore it. I read it over two years ago and still remember its first impact. The book is a combination of two profound stories coming from a white mother and her black son. It is actually about an Orthodox Jewish girl who emigrated from Poland with her family to Virginia and escapes the life she had ever known to New York, where she ended up marrying a black man and living in the black community. In all, she raises her twelve children from her two marriages and despite the odds against her and children successfully managed her family into a success story. Flawed but genuine, strong and committed she served as an inspiration for people in imperfect circumstances.
The author's voice is strong, captivating and authentic. His intelligent mind served as a perfect repertoire to make this book the compelling read that it is today. I read it again when I had finished, so as to get the complete feel of the book . This story is sweet, intimate and more. It can make you cry and still be strong. I strongly recommend this beautiful work.
Also recommended: DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, EFURU
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am 4. Juli 2000
This novel is truly inspirational on a number of different levels. The authors first hand experience concerning the identity crisis that sometimes befalls children of mixed heritage was truly amazing. Although a story about race, this novel showcases an incredible and exceptional woman.
I had seen this novel in bookstores several times however never purchased it due to my own issues surrounding the marriage of black men to white women. Of course, that is my issue, not the authors. However, after recently purchasing and reading the novel, I truly wished that I had read it much earlier.
This story is really about a tribute to a mother who has the strength, wisdom and love necessary in raising 12 successful children. The fact that this woman, who for all practical purposes by today's standards grew up in a dysfunctional family, could give to her children that which she did not receive as a child, i.e,love, wisdom, education, purpose, direction, hope, etc was awe inspiring.
The story is also about the struggles of racial identity and how the author dealt with those issues while growing up. The authors personal and intimate revelations concerning how he really felt living in the precarious world of white vs. black took a lot of courage and guts. It is probably not easy to admit to yourself and then to your mother that you were ashamed of her because the color of her skin. That was pretty powerful. The authors candor and honesty made this novel an exceptional read and one that pulled at the heart strings. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone of any age, race or religious background. Don't make the mistake of waiting to read this novel or you will definately miss out! Excellant read!
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am 19. Juni 2000
In The Color of Water James McBride takes us through his life growing up in the Red Hook projects in Brooklyn with a white Jewish mother and twelve interracial brothers and sisters. This moving narrative takes us through the life of a young African American growing up in the turbulent sixties in a large Ghetto of the Red Hook housing projects. McBride takes us through the hardships of growing up in an all black area of New York City with a Jewish turned Christian White Mother. Through his experiences he teaches us the nobility and joy of being part of mankind. Even in the face of poverty, McBride focuses on the guidance of his White mother and influence she had on him and his brothers' and sisters' lives.
In poverty, his mother, through sheer will, pushed all her kids through college and on to such careers as Psychology, Medicine, and Teaching. Through perseverance, she gave her kids the benefit of a better education through many scholarships the children earned. Often her kids would be the only African-American students in the usually all-white private schools. Growing up Jewish, she envied Jewish families that prided themselves on education and religion, sending their kids off to the best schools, she figured her kids should have the same opportunity. This excerpt shows how McBride uses words to convey a crisp image and perception of his mother. At fifty-one she was still slender and pretty, with curly black hair, dark eyes, a large nose, a sparkling smile, and a bowlegged walk you could see a mile off. We used to call that "Mommy's mad walk," and if she was doing that in your direction, all hell was gonna break loose. (p. 7) His Mother grew up in a small Jewish community in North Carolina with a debilitated mother who completely relied on her and a racist greedy father who didn't care about her or her mom and who frequently molested her. Her family was very strict, she did but have only one friend, and at school she was isolated and tormented because of her Jewish faith. Through frequent summer visits to her aunt's house in New York, she finally moved there. After marrying an African American man, she was disowned by her family. She went on to be twice-married to African American men (the first one died of cancer) and have twelve biracial children. She is still alive and well today. She finally got her university degree in 1986 at the age of 65 from Temple university and still works today in social work.
She conducted her life in the name of God. After leaving North Carolina she embraced God and converted to Christianity. Part of her personality was that she didn't care about what people thought and she carried on with her life the way she felt it would be best for her and her children. Her inner strength became commonplace and rubbed off on all her kids. Such inner strength lead her to led her life regardless of anything else. In this passage from The Color of Water McBride tries to focus on her inner strength, he does a great job at drawing and framing peoples personalities. Mommy loved God. She went to church each and every Sunday, the only white person in sight, butchering lovely hymns with a singing voice that sounded like a cross between a cold engine trying to crank and an October morning and a whining Maytag washer. My siblings and I would muffle our laughter as mommy dug into the hymns with verve and gusto."Leaning . . . oh, leaning . . . safe and secure on the" Up, up and away she went, her shrill voice climbing higher and higher, reminding us of Curly of the three Stooges. It sounded so horrible that I often thought Rev. Owens, our minister, would get up from his seat and stop the song." (p. 45)
This book is definitely and defiantly one of the best books I have ever read. It Gets acrosss the message that life is meant to be lived regardless of anything else. On the cover, it said, that this book was a "Black Man's Tribute to his White mother." This is a tribute, in all senses of the word, to everyone who reads this book. Not giving it a ten on a one-to-ten scale would be unthinkable. I recommend this book to anyone, young or old; it is truly a tribute to the will of mankind.
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am 15. Juni 2000
In The Color of Water James McBride takes us through his life growing up in the Red Hook projects in Brooklyn with a white Jewish mother and twelve interracial brothers and sisters. This moving narrative takes us through the life of a young African American growing up in the turbulent sixties in a large Ghetto of the Red Hook housing projects. McBride takes us through the hardships of growing up in an all black area of New York City with a Jewish turned Christian White Mother. Through his experiences he teaches us the nobility and joy of being part of mankind. Even in the face of poverty, McBride focuses on the guidance of his White mother and influence she had on him and his brothers' and sisters' lives. In poverty, his mother, through sheer will, pushed all her kids through college and on to such careers as Psychology, Medicine, and Teaching. Through perseverance, she gave her kids the benefit of a better education through many scholarships the children earned. Often her kids would be the only African-American students in the usually all-white private schools. Growing up Jewish, she envied Jewish families that prided themselves on education and religion, sending their kids off to the best schools, she figured her kids should have the same opportunity.... She finally got her university degree in 1986 at the age of 65 from Temple university and still works today in social work.
She conducted her life in the name of God. After leaving North Carolina she embraced God and converted to Christianity. Part of her personality was that she didn't care about what people thought and she carried on with her life the way she felt it would be best for her and her children. Her inner strength became commonplace and rubbed off on all her kids. Such inner strength lead her to led her life regardless of anything else.... This book is definitely and defiantly one of the best books I have ever read. It Gets acrosss the message that life is meant to be lived regardless of anything else. On the cover, it said, that this book was a "Black Man's Tribute to his White mother." This is a tribute, in all senses of the word, to everyone who reads this book. Not giving it a ten on a one-to-ten scale would be unthinkable. I recommend this book to anyone, young or old; it is truly a tribute to the will of mankind.
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am 18. April 2000
Subtitled, "A Black Man's Tribute to his White Mother", the author, James McBride, a journalist and musician, has written his true and remarkable story.
Ruth McBride Jordan was born in 1921, in Poland, the daughter of Orthodox Jews. As a baby, her family immigrated to the United States where she was raised in Virginia where her father had a grocery store. Her life was harsh and when she married a black man in 1942, her family disowned her.
She raised 12 children, every one of them college educated, her indomitable spirit strong through poverty and the tragic deaths of two husbands. Her color confused her children who lived in a black world and it wasn't until they had grown to adulthood that her true story came out.
James McBride is a good writer, and his lively clear prose reflect a home that might have been lacking in material things, but was extraordinary in its warmth and love and nurturing atmosphere.
Ruth McBride Jordan's story is told in her voice through alternating chapters and her strength comes through in her words. Never once is there a shred of self pity as she tells her story. When she was first married she and her husband lived in a cockroach infested single room in Harlem with the bathroom in the hall. Her first four children were born while they were living in that single room. "It was one of the happiest times of my life," she says. Later they moved to an apartment with their own private bathroom which was quite a luxury.
The reader feels the emotions that James feels as he struggles with his own identity. He is the 8th of the 12 children and watches his older brothers and sisters being influenced by the "black power" movement of the 70s. Often, he's embarrassed by the color of his mother's skin.
Ruth is an active Christian avid churchgoer. James knows little or nothing of Jews. It is fascinating to read his point of view which is told with insight and honesty. And it is perhaps even more fascinating to hear the words of Ruth.
The book is an inspiration, a testament to love, and social exploration through the eyes of a mixed race family. Read it! You'll love it!
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am 3. Dezember 1999
The book was excellent. I haven't read a book this good in over two years. I learned a lot from it and I think you will too. The story is interestion, emotional, and cleverly written.
James McBride wrote an entertaining memoir that kept my nose glued to the pages of the book. There were very few parts that didn't hold my attention. James and his family encountered so many situations throughout his life that it was unbelievable how strong and close his family turned out to be. I have lived a very sheltered life compared to the life of James and his mother. It was exciting to see another life besides mine. I enjoyed reading about all the "adventures" James and his mother had experienced in their lives.
The feelings involved throughout the book were so intense. The feelings alone made the book come alive to me. I felt the emotions along with the characters. When James mother was crying I would want to cry with her, and other characters actions would make me so mad that I would have to stop reading until I calmed down. My emotions manipulated themselves as I read the authors words.
James McBride placed his words cleverly and used his words very strategically. I love the way he signified the switching of his life and his mother's life in every other chapter. I also found it enticing that he would leave important information out of his life and answer the readers queations later in the book in the chapters about his mother's life.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I believe James McBride is a very talented author. I would recommend this book to almost anyone, especially people that might be having trouble with or want a stronger sense of their ancestry or or their roots.
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