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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What color is water anyway?

Hello Readers,

Here it is the 11th of June and I am just getting around to my review and questions on The Color of Water.  DH birthday & celebration in Quebec City got in the way.  BTW DH - you may take a vacation from the blog if you want but I know myself too well, if I let go of this for 3 months my aged memory will let go of it forever.  Besides, it is really the only time I sit at my computer leaving my IPad on the sidelines!  All of you may take a break, as I said in the beginning - no pressure!


First off I want to say about The Color of Water, I found it refreshing, true to life, impossibly possible and inspiring.  For me the most poignant  idea is that this book is the way for James McBride to come and really know his mother and her life experiences.  Since I have been working on the stories my own mother has written, fictional and historical, this has struck a chord with me.  Now I have questions to ask her!  James is a lucky man to have his mother available.  The balance of that is that our children do not know our history and experiences.  Will it ever be important to them and will it be too late for us to respond? 


This book covers so many issues of society.  A few of my favorites follow:


When Ruth was having the tryst with Peter - they knew the risk of black & white together and I hesitate to add that in some areas of the country, in any decade,  this would be a hair raising event.  Ruth states: 'I always felt that was about the South, that beneath the smiles and southern hospitality and politeness were a lot of guns and liquor and secrets'.  My hope is that we have come further in this time and then I hear someone using the 'N' word and I cringe and wonder.


When Ruth's grandmother died (since it seems that Ruth was most likely shunned in the family) she was notified:  'we have three rooms worth of furniture.  Do you want it?'   Just like some families with horrible communication that lasts for generations.  Do you think it would be interesting to read this same story from the perspective of Ruth's cousins or aunts?  I think that is really where conflict comes in to play since everyone would have a different perspective on this history.  Just think how you were reared in the same house and have differing opinions about important events.


The McBride children's struggle with their identities led each to his or her own "revolution".   Is it also possible that that same struggle led them to define themselves through professional achievement?


"Our house was a combination three-ring circus and zoo, complete with ongoing action, daring feats, music, and animals." Does Helen leave to escape her chaotic homelife or to escape the mother whose very appearance confuses her about who she is?  Do you think the world would be a better place if we answered those 'hard' questions with 'what color is water'?


While reading the descriptions of the children's hunger, did you wonder why Ruth did not seek out some kind of assistance?  Is knowing hunger how the children had the impetus to fight their way to success?  

In closing I want to add this quote from the author at the end of the 10th anniversary book:
'Hard line intellectuals have already had a field day with this book, using it to promote every sort of sociopolitical ideology.  But at the end of the day, there are some questions that have no answers and then one answer that has no question, love rules the game.  Every time.  That's what counts.'

I say 'Amen' to that.  Thank you all for reading along with me and see you in a bit!

Happy Beach Reading,
Barbara




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