I had known about James McBride's book The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother since high school (or early college) but never picked it up. Some years ago, I found a hardbound copy at either the thrift store or a library fund-raising sale and bought. it I only recently got around to reading it, though, while I was waiting for a book I had placed on hold to come in at the library (Lift by Kelly Corrigan).
The Color of Water was a good read, full of poignancy and triumph in the face of racism, poverty and (sometimes) overwhelming cultural dictates. It is just a beautiful story and you could tell how much McBride respects his mother: it came through every word. And if the story McBride tells is true, his mother is an extraordinary woman, who was not interested in what others thought but was self-assured and confident in her ability to make the right decision no matter what.
McBride approaches the story in a very methodical way. He interviews his mother (who is less than willing to give an yinformation) and researches his mother's background on his own (not coming up with much). It seems like because his mother was not one to share freely, McBride was unable to tell us about how she felt at certain moments: we have to kind of piece it together for ourselves. That's fine though . . . it speaks to the kind of woman his mother was in terms of her personality and approach to life. She didn't have the luxury of unnecessary emotional shows. I guess in that regard I would say the book lacks a certain depth: an exploration into the inner workings. I think also that this study of his mom was equally a way to learn about himself (where he came from and how he came to be who he is) as a tribute to his mom.
And I found it very interesting that what ends up being super important to list at the end of the book was all the academic accomplishments of McBride's siblings. A little hollow, I thought. I sure hope my parents wouldn't list my academic accomplishments as the main thing they are proud of.
I also noticed when reading reviews that some Jewish people were not too pleased with this book. If I were Jewish, I don't think I'd be either.
Anyway, it's good to own the book. I think I would read it again.