THE COLOR OF WATER
By James McBride
The Color of Water is a novel that has a mixture of many things . James McBride was able to illustrate the discrimination , racism , poverty and the American dream in one of the best seller novels at the New York Times. McBride talks in one chapter about his childhood and hardships while in another chapter the mother is the narrator for the incidence of her life. His voice and his mother’s voice together in one book. James never knew anything about the background of his mother nor did any of his siblings saw or heard any of their mother’s relatives. This has brought many questions to McBride as he grew up. And he insisted on asking his mother about questions of her past and who she was ? Thus , she finally revealed to her children and to the world who Ruth McBride was ! or in fact who Rachel Shilsky was.
Rachel Shilsky was from a Polish Jewish family that migrated to the United States of America when she was only a child . They lived in the south Suffolk , Virginia .Where at the time racism against the black and Jews were prominent. Rachel suffered at school and neighborhood from teasing and racism for being Jews; when Jews were a minority in the States at that period . Rachel was raised in a household that had no love , and no means of any affectionate because of her mean father who had no respect or kindness for her handicapped mother from polio . Her father , Tateh, was a greedy man who had a store and made the children work there all the time; before school and after school. Rachel had no love for her father not only because of the way he treated her mother and brothers ; but also because of the way he treated her. He use to abuse her and she was afraid of him …which eventually made her run away from her house to New York to start a new life and find love . She married a black man and she was reborn being a Christian.
Her mother , whom she loved most died and she couldn’t even say goodbye to her. Her family refused her and to them she was dead because she married a black man . They sat “ SHIVA “ for her which means that she’sno more alive to them . That has broken Rachel ‘s heart as she loved her mother so much , she was her eyes and ears in America and translated everything to her. She found peace and rebirth in Christianity. Started a church with her husband . Rachel had 8 children from Mcbride and after his death from cancer she remarried Jordan and gave birth 4 more . Yes, She raised 12 children in pure love to God and education . She insisted on graduating them from higher schools and thought them on discipline and love. Ruth McBride or Rachel told James that his father Andrew McBride was a man of vision and that without him ; she could be lost.
One point worth mentioning is that Rachel was a very wise lady and never wanted her children to think that they were different from her and to suffer the discrimination . So whenever James use to wonder about why his mother was white ; she use to simply tell him that she was “ light-skinned “. And when he asked about the color of God , she replied that He was the Color of Water. As a child James had many questions about his mother and about the racism he use to face when going with her out. This book makes us live the incidence happened back in early 19’s . Worth reading.