Start reading The Color of Water 10th Anniversary Edition on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Color:
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

 

The Color of Water 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]

James McBride
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,017 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $8.59
You Save: $7.41 (46%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $8.59  
Library Binding $22.56  
Paperback $9.04  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $20.95 or Free with Audible 30-day free trial
Audio, CD, Audiobook $25.47  
Unknown Binding --  
Hero Quick Promo
Year-End Kindle Daily Deals
Load your library with great books for $2.99 or less each, today only. Learn more

Book Description

The New York Times bestselling story from the author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction.

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.






Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Order this book ... and please don't be put off by its pallid subtitle, A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, which doesn't begin to do justice to the utterly unique and moving story contained within. The Color of Water tells the remarkable story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised. Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America soon after birth; as an adult she moved to New York City, leaving her family and faith behind in Virginia. Jordan met and married a black man, making her isolation even more profound. The book is a success story, a testament to one woman's true heart, solid values, and indomitable will. Ruth Jordan battled not only racism but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavered. In telling her story--along with her son's--The Color of Water addresses racial identity with compassion, insight, and realism. It is, in a word, inspiring, and you will finish it with unalloyed admiration for a flawed but remarkable individual. And, perhaps, a little more faith in us all.

From Library Journal

The need to clarify his racial identity prompted the author to penetrate his veiled and troubled family history. Ruth McBride Jordan concealed her former life as Rachel Deborah Shilsky, the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, from her children. Her grim upbringing in an abusive environment is left behind when she moves to Harlem, marries a black man, converts to Christianity, and cofounds a Baptist congregation with her husband. The courage and tenacity shown by this twice-widowed mother who manages to raise 12 children, all of whom go on to successful careers, are remarkable. The intertwined accounts, told alternately by mother and son, are enhanced by the gifted voices of readers Andre Braugher and Lainie Kazan. Highly recommended for public libraries.
Linda Bredengerd, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib., Bradford, Pa.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3020 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1435242521
  • Publisher: Riverhead; 10th anniversary edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001EGQNCI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,921 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
149 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A LOVING TRIBUTE TO MOM... February 28, 2006
Format:Paperback
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.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
128 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRIBUTE TO MOM... July 13, 2003
Format:Paperback
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.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Reading August 5, 2000
Format:Paperback
I just finished reading it for the second time (first time was when it was a new release), and I still can't get over how much this book touched me. This book is one incredibly moving memoir.
The Color of Water is a black man's tribute to his white Jewish mother. I really enjoyed hearing Ruth McBride Jordan's amazing story. Through the telling of her life, we learn a great deal about the the author, James McBride, as well.
We read through Ruth's story, feeling her anguish in hard times. We fight with her to put twelve children through college, and we lend our hearts out to her in hopes of easing her job of instilling proper values in her children. McBride did an excellent job of bringing the reader directly into this unforgettable story, allowing us to feel the emotion.
The book's format was quite interesting as well, alternating chapters from the mother's point of view to that of his. The Color of Water was just an all-around well written book, and a joy to read. Please read this powerful, uplifting memoir. You'll enjoy it.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving portrayal of a memorable family April 28, 2002
Format:Paperback
James McBride gives us a wonderful memoir of himself and his mother, a Polish immigrant and Orthodox Jew, a daughter of a tyrannical rabbi father and timid, crippled mother, who dared to ask for something more of this life. Yet in doing so, Ruth McBride Jordan, nee Rachel Shilsky crossed what was once, and for some still is, an uncrossable barrier: she married not one, but two, black men, converting to Christianity along the way. She lost her Jewish family and isolated herself from both whites and, to a lesser extent, blacks, but raised 12 children who all became college-educated professionals.

This is not a portrait of a saint, either mother or son. But both can forgive the other, something that Ruth's Jewish family cannot do. (That, by the way, should not be seen as representative of all Jews; indeed, the epilogue shows a moving scene in which James McBride gets in touch with his Jewish side in a very positive way. Many Jewish people are caring and understanding and not at all prejudice against blacks. Ruth's family wasn't among them.) Anyway, that these are not saints make the people more human, more believeable, more loveable. And by reading it, maybe we would become more accepting of families that don't look like our own. (Though I have to confess, I might be a little worried if a family with 12 kids moved in next door, regardless of the racial makeup! :-) )
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 1 day ago by El Prieto
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite book.
A favorite book by a favorite author. Ordered two as Christmas presents.
Published 1 day ago by Gwen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing story
Published 7 days ago by Dianne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautifully written and deeply felt. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Published 9 days ago by Jacqueline Hoyt
5.0 out of 5 stars Very excellent book about the love of one special women for ...
Very excellent book about the love of one special women for her children when times were different. I was in tears (in a good way) at the end of the book. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Jean Camper
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT book. Very honest and gives a unique insight ...
EXCELLENT book. Very honest and gives a unique insight to growing up biracial. James McBride tells his story interwoven with his mother's and it kept me always jumping into the... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Rebecca Joy
4.0 out of 5 stars which is awesome. Btw
Book came in just as described, which is awesome. Btw, this is a good book to read!
Published 11 days ago by Amanda Fournier
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly excellent book! Everyone should read this book.
I read this after my 17 year-old daughter read it for her Lit class. I really loved the book, the story is poignant, enjoyable, and inspirational. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Kittyfish
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best books I have ever read or taught.
Published 14 days ago by Patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars love the book
While reading this book, I found myself looking back into my own childhood growing up in the 70's. Asking my mother why some of us look white and some of us don't. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Andrea Thomas
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Forums

Topic From this Discussion
COST
Welcome to the Agency pricing model. Penguin is especially bad; it's why I don't buy any books (ebook or dead tree book) that they publish anymore.
Jun 7, 2011 by Lis |  See all 2 posts
Have something you'd like to share about this product?
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for Similar Items by Category