“The Color of Water” by James McBride is in the Author’s words “A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.” But to add a bit of spice to the colored water, the writer’s mother is an orthodox Jewish woman whose determination exceeds all expectations. The book is really a dual biography of the author and his mother.
Skillfully alternating chapters, he describes his mother’s difficult childhood growing up in the South as a Jew who is isolated and scorned by all the white Christian kids. Only the black folks behind her father’s store, give her the kind of equality and respect that we all crave. Her father’s only interest is making money and keeping his two children working while all along making her his bed partner in the darkness. As soon as she is able, she move to NY finding work in her aunt’s clothing factory. There she falls in love with a coworker who just happens to be black.
Not exactly popular in the 1940s. In the alternate chapters, the author writes about his own childhood growing up with the only white faced mother in Harlem. His own self doubts, and his tales of twelve belly hungry siblings vying for the bits of food brought home by his mother from her job at the Automat. It is a fast paced reading adventure that will give the readers a sense of drama that will reveal a wonderful phenomenon that is known all along. We have a much better life than we thought! And we thank god for it!