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The Color Of Water

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The Color of Water

By James McBride


I chose this book because in the description of the book it is stated that it was written in tribute to James McBride mother and to the whole family she raised. I wanted to know how extraordinary her life was. The author is an authority on the information presented because this book is the story of his life.


This book is an autobiography of James McBride where he integrates narrations made by him and Ruth, his mother. She was born in a Jewish family in Poland , but her family ran away from the Nazi Holocaust and came to America. Her father came first to America and afterwards he brought his wife, Ruth (James mother) and Sam (Ruth's brother).

During their first year they would move very often because her father was a contract rabbi. During this episode, her sister was born, however, they moved to Virginia . Despite the opposition of the Jewish congregation, her father started a grocery store in the black neighborhood. The 3 children were forced to work in that store under their father's authority. Ruth developed antisocial behaviors because her father molested her continuously. Her brother was mistreated by his father but around the age of 15, he run away to Chicago . Later he joined the army and got killed in WW1.

Ruth, fell in love for her best friend, Peter, they started dating in hiding but she got pregnant. However, she couldn't hide anymore her worries about the pregnancy. that Summer she went to New York and she decided to tell her aunt who handled everything to help her to have an abortion, which was terribly painful.

After some time, she came back home and realized that Peter was getting married against his will. She was really disappointed and realized there was nothing that would stop her going away from that city. So the next day after her graduation, she went to New York . She worked for a while for her aunt, where she met Dennis McBride. They started going out until they moved together. She went to watch her mother for a while because her mother was really sick; Ruth found out that her father was going out with another woman. her father asked Ruth to stay longer but despite everything Ruth went back with Denis. After some time her mother died. Ruth and Dennis had started a Christian church. They had 8 children, but after some time in the hospital Dennis died from uncertain causes. Later she married Hunter Jordan and they added 4 children more to the family.


As a child James thought that his mother, Ruth, seemed like an odd person without perceiving the danger of living in a black neighborhood being white. the house was ruled by his mother even though when Jordan, his stepfather, was alive because Jordan used to come home just on weekends. Beginning in his school years James started to realize that his mom was different, "not black". Furthermore it was more confusing not knowing any background from her since she would be evasive with the topic. This was an issue that never went away from his mind, produced by experiencing the painful, tough and oppressive reality, the awareness that black and whites did not get along very well and the self-concept.

Ruth taught all of her children to have prioritues in being an educated person, belief in God, be confidential with personal information and having distrust og outsiders. At home he had to survive the teasing of his older brothers. The same at school, mainly being the only black face in the class (usually Jewish schools). At some point in their lives, the children



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