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The Color of Water

             The Color of Water: A Black man's tribute to his white mother by James McBride is the story of a young black man trying to reveal his mothers past and his own identity. Set in the 1960's in New York City, James tries to figure out his mothers past while struggling with his own racial identity. James's childhood was spent in a chaotic home with 12 children while his mother, Ruth was working hard just to put enough food on the table. .
             Ruth came to America when she was a young girl from a family of Polish Jewish immigrants. While growing up, Ruth lived in Suffolk, Virginia, where a large population of blacks lived. Her father, Fishel Shilsky was racist towards blacks while Ruth wanted to befriend them. Ruth eventually married two black men, converted to Christianity, and had 12 kids between the both of them. While growing up, James often questioned his mother about her background and her past. She always told him to stop asking questions and not to worry about it. James is also curious about his skin color, his mother is white and his father was black. He feels torn between the two colors, not being able to fit in with white or black kids. .
             Raising her kids by sending them to the best schools and going to church every Sunday, Ruth made sure that her children had the best education possible and had strong moral beliefs. While in his teenage years, James went through a phase of drug use and crime. He eventually realized the importance of self-reliance and hard work and trusting in God. He focused on his jazz music and writing and went off to attend Oberlin College. James also went to Suffolk, Virginia to discover his mothers past.
             One of the book's major strength is that Ruth does not view color as an issue. She grew up with a racial father and grew to love people of all color. She endured exclusion and ridicule as a Jew living in the South, and later as a white woman living in black neighborhoods during the black power movement Ruth lives in New York City in a black neighborhood and attends an all black church.

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