The Color of Water - James McBride The Color of Water is a wonderful story of "A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother". It is the life story of a white Jewish girl growing up in the segregation and violence of Virginia in the 1920's, and paralleling it is the story of her black son growing up in New York in the 1950's, and his search for his identity through digging up his mothers hard lived past.
The book introduces both characters separately, dealing with each of their lives in separate chapters, creating a parallel almost comparison between the two at around the same age. The mother - Rachel Shiltz, was the daughter of a rabbi, who opened up a store just into the boarder of the black side in a segregated neighborhood. She tells of how she didn't have many friends because none of the white people liked her because she was Jewish, and it was forbidden to associate with black people.
She left home and went to live in New York where she met Dennis McBride, a black man who would become her husband. They had 8 children, of which James McBride was the last. Her first husband died, and she remarried to another black man, and had another 4 children. She was shunned, and disowned by her family.
James McBride was born in New York, and though his being a black boy with a white mother was embarrassing, it wasn't an executable offense, as it was in the south. His part is the story of his struggle to find out who he was, being that his mother was white, and her reluctance to go back to the past that she had buried. There are 12 children in their household, and surviving alone is a consuming task.
The book is a biography written by James McBride which tells the hardships faced, mainly race, and how they were dealt with in the north and south and in a relatively short period of time. The book is very informative of the times surrounding the civil rights movement, and the situation both in the north and the south comparatively.