The Color of Water

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

4.05 (81,942 ratings by Goodreads)
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As a boy in Brooklyn's Red Hook projects, James McBride knew his mother was different. But when he asked about it, she'd simply say 'I'm light-skinned.' Later he wondered if he was different too, and asked his mother if he was black or white. 'You're a human being,' she snapped. 'Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody!' And when James asked what colour God was, she said 'God is the colour of water.' As an adult, McBride finally persuaded his mother to tell her story - the story of a rabbi's daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a Baptist church, and put twelve children through more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 24mm | 160g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0747538328
  • 9780747538325
  • 68,499

Review Text

When James McBride asked his mother, Ruth, what colour God was, she told him He was 'the colour of water'. Growing up black in Brooklyn, James wondered at his mother's light skin, and only later learned she had been born Ruchel Zylska, an Orthodox Jew. After her family fled from Poland during the war to settle in Virginia, she escaped her abusive father to live in Harlem, where she married a black man. She changed her name, founded a Baptist church with her husband and put 12 high-flying children through college. This double autobiography tells the story of Ruth and her son, each reflecting the experience of the other as they grow up in a world where racial categories threaten to overcome personal identities. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

81,942 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 37% (30,258)
4 39% (31,584)
3 19% (15,738)
2 4% (3,171)
1 1% (1,191)
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