Reading a book could sometimes be very stressful but sometimes, these books teaches us and shares knowledge that we are not well taught of in school or in our houses but, there is one hard thing that needs to be done when it comes to books. Choosing a particular book to read is a hard task. There are several conditions needed and there must be a number of reasons why one should or should not read a specific narrative. In choosing James McBride’s “The Color of Water” (1996), the main reason is to try a different field of reading instead of sticking with a fiction novel, the account of James and Ruth’s life is a better choice.
Aside from this reason, the book was a highly recommended novel according to the reviews made by Boston Globe and New York Times. I somehow thought that by reading this book, I could probably learn a thing or two and in someways, it could help me develop myself since this beautiful story is more about a mother and her children. There are morals in every pages and it somehow touches a little bit of history and racism. A very nice topic to study and learn about. The question of reliability is needed before believing in a novel, story, essay or shared experiences and knowledge.
It is needed because there are certain information that would probably be neither true or fake and the reader might catch a wrong one. The author of this novel I think is a reliable source of information in the sense that it is his life. He was talking about his life and he, as a person is the one who fully knows himself and if he placed too much of false fact about himself, he might be fooling himself and not just the readers. He wrote a novel based on his experiences, interviews and the reality of his life thus, what he made was a biography and an authobiography side by side.
His experiences helped him produce a magnificent narrative of his life thus, he even included the life of his mother. Aside from his experiences as his basis in this story, his trainings and his childhood memories were also included. Believing in this writer is very easy. One doesn’t need to do some researches about him to prove that he was telling the truth but, instead, the sincerity in every word that makes up the sentences and the paragraphs is heartfelt and it seems real. Real in the sense that the feelings of the writer is really associated with the whole work.
In addition from this fact, James McBride is a journalist. He is very much specific with the entries he place in his narrative and at the same time, he really had interviews with different people who knew his mother and even travelled to Suffolk, Virginia for more understanding in her mother’s life. He didn’t write the novel for money or anything elese but because he found the answers to his questions. This literary account of the McBride’s life is a tribute of a black son to his white mother who acts more like a black woman in a place wherein she is different, being the only white among the blacks.
This story is about a son who didn’t know anything about his mother’s past and grew up not knowing why his mother was white and why he was black. He lived in chaotic household wherein there are twelve children and their mother was too busy to tell her painful past and retell her childhood memories. James in this story tried to tell what happened in his childhood until he grew up and wanted to chase after his real identity and answer the question of race and why he is black. Ruth, mother of James was a jewish daughter of a Rabbi.
When she was young, she was sexually abused by her father and her father was a harsh person especially to her mother. When she left home, she went to New York and somehow lost direction due to some instances. She was about to be a prostitute when finally he met Andrew McBride again who works for her aunt. He had been so kind to her and they ended up living together. Soon, they got married and few more years, they started the New Brown Memorial Church in memory of her favorite pastor Reverend Brown. When Andrew McBride died, she was pregnant with James and they already have seven children.
After few more years, she met Hunter Jordan and although she denied him many times, he was so persistent that even the family of her late husband Andrew approved of him. She married Hunter and soon they had four more children (McBride, n. pag. ). When Hunter died, Ruth was left to raise twelve children and this is were James started to be confused of his identity. He started to take drugs and he soon left schooling, one thing that both Hunter and Ruth asked for them, continue learning and be a good christian. He lost his direction and soon, he committed several crimes.
He became a thief in his own way and it was only his stay in his sister Jack’s house that he realized what he was doing and suddenly, he went back on being the James he used to be. He want back to school and soon, they left their old house and moved in a new environment. He remained in being a musicia and soon, when he finally finished college, he became both a musician and a journalist. His idea of trying to put up his mother’s life with him was a big challenge on his part as a writer as he tried to trace her origin and his identity.
Soon, upon knowing who he really was, in the end, he felt happy and remained proud of his mother and his family. Now that he is a grown up man, his family is even bigger, the dozen kids back in his childhood days was added by a dozen more and a dozen again. It’s even happy and Ruth was happier seeing all her black kids with her grandchildren with different colors, some are blond and white while the others were black. It was her family, they were her family (McBride, n. pag. ).
When reading this book or after reading this book, the person who took the risk to spend time analyzing the pages will learn what racism is all about and how was the treatment of Black Americans were done by the Whites. At the same time, upon reading the account, the reader would probably learn to accept a person despite their differences just like how Andrew, Ruth and Hunter accepted each other and just like how James loved his White mother eventhough he was Black. Also, Jack’s words of wisdom for James is very helpful.
She said: “You have to choose between what the world expects of you and what you want for yourself. ” (McBride 161). Jack means that whatever happens, what he can become few more years depends on how he looked at the world ahead of him and the things around him. This words moved James and he went back as a loving son who loves his family so much. The issue of racism in America during those times was really a big topic and very hot in the ears of every white and black people but in the McBride-Hunter family, the issue of racism is not an issue at all.
Although they wonder why they have a different color from their mother, especially James, Ruth loved them so much and lived a life of a black woman who have a great faith in God. It is not hard to like this book since it is actually shared so many things to me and probably to other readers. Reading this book will definitely melt your heart away and will make you realize that it was indeed beautiful and reading it adds a great feeling of knowing who you really are.
It is no wonder why this book was recommended by different book review articles and why many people have read this one. The issue of racism in this story is an issue but what makes it more interesting is the idea that although during their times, racism was a big deal, Ruth was never affected. Instead, the story focused more in James’ quest to find his identity and find his roots why he was a black man with a white mother. Works Cited McBride, James. The Color of Water. USA: Riverhead Books, 1996.
Courtney from Study Moose
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