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The Color of Water



Pub. Date:
Riverhead Hardcover
List Price: $26.95
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Make this your next book club selection and everyone saves. Get 15% off when you order 5 or more of this title for your book club. Simply enter the coupon code MCBRIDECOLOR at checkout. This offer does not apply to eBook purchases. This offer applies to only one downloadable audio per purchase. Coming February 2001: Miracle at St. Anna, a gripping, page-turning, highly original first novel about black servicemen in Italy in World War II by James McBride, the bestselling, acclaimed, and beloved author of the huge New York Times bestseller The Color of Water. Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve 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 eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion--and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain. 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. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned. At seventeen, 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. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college--and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University. 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 readers 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.

Author Biography

James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Color of Water. His second book, Miracle at St. Anna, was optioned for film in 2007 by Black Butterfly Productions with noted American filmmaker Spike Lee directing and co-producing. McBride has written for the Washington Post, People, the Boston Globe, Essence, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. He is a graduate of Oberlin College. He was awarded a master’s in journalism from New York’s Columbia University at the age of twenty-two. McBride holds several honorary doctorates and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. McBride lives in Pennsylvania and New York.

Table of Contents

1. Dead
2. The Bicycle
3. Kosher
4. Black Power
5. The Old Testament
6. The New Testament
7. Sam
8. Brothers and Sisters
9. Shul
10. School
11. Boys
12. Daddy
13. New York
14. Chicken Man
15. Graduation
16. Driving
17. Lost in Harlem
18. Lost in Delaware
19. The Promise
20. Old Man Shilsky
21. A Bird Who Flies
22. A Jew Discovered
23. Dennis
24. New Brown
25. Finding Ruthie
Epilogue 279(8)
Thanks and Acknowledgments 287

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