The Color of Water by James McBride

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.

This was another school read, but I must say that I enjoyed it. I liked how each chapter switched between James’s story and his mother’s story. Often the chapters were related and it was interesting to see how his mother’s experiences compared and shaped James’s experiences. At its heart, this memoir is about finding your own identity. The struggle for identity has always fascinated me. On one hand, we all seek out labels which give meaning to our lives - mother, father, sister, brother, friend, spouse - but at the same time, we often find ourselves limited by these same labels. Too often, we try to fit ourselves into a mold, ignoring our own uniqueness. Sometimes our search for identity is further hindered by a lack of understanding or denial, as is the case it this memoir. The memoir is honest, at times funny, and well worth the read.

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