The Color Of Water Book Review Essay

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The Color Of Water Book Review Essay, Research Paper Phillip Souzek Susan Vervaet English 111 Section (06) September 27, 2000 The Color of Water: Book Review In this memoir, the author chooses to have two narrators, himself as one, and his mother as the other. This style makes for quite an interesting story, skipping back and forth in time, from the child’s life, to that of his mother. Although many time changes occur, they are quite easy to keep up with, as the two narrator’s of the book, James, and his mother, alternate chapters. For this reason, it is also very easy to compare the childhood of each of the main characters. Although the chapters aren’t always during the same time periods of the respective characters, they are close enough that similarities can be seen,

and parallels can be drawn. This is one of my favorite parts of the novel, seeing the main character, James, grow up with his mother Rachel. In summary, the author tells the story of both his mother, and himself growing up. His mother was raised Jewish, but became Christian before James was born, which was thus the religion he was raised in. Both had very strict discipline, in their respective religions. The memoir focuses more on Rachel, who grows up in a Jewish family living in a country and area where Jews are not well received. After surviving this, and sexual abuse as a child, Rachel goes on to run away from home, and marries a caring black man from New York. Here she settles down, has a family, and raises twelve kids, while being constantly harassed because of her marriage,

as well as her children, who are all of a different color than her. After eight children, her husband dies, and she remarries to a man of similar morals, race, and discipline. James, the final child of the original father, grows up knowing only the step-father as “daddy”, and suffers the hardships of growing up in a multi-racial family, which always seems to be in the minority. This memoir was written mainly for the author’s interest, and not the reader’s, which definitely makes it unique. Although it is just like any other book, in that its successfulness will be judged by sales as well as how it affects readers, the author only went through all of the research done in writing this book in order to quench his own thirst for finding out where his roots lay. This is quite

evident in the reading, which seems to mention the history, and story behind nearly everyone, as well as every place. This makes for many interesting stories, but often-times ones that are too preoccupied with showing the reader what it meant to the author, and not as concerned with the enjoyment of the reader. This, of course, spawns another problem. With an author who is only concerned with showing the reader how it affected himself, you are deprived of what you really want to know about a given character. James has eleven brothers and sisters, all of which have something to add to the story, and yet the exposition given to each of them is far from satisfactory. Much more detail could have been given on what they thought of their mother, how each of them found out about her,

who teaches and lives the motto “Don’t tell anyone your business.” For this reason, the children have the challenge of digging up the truth about their mother, and James takes it to the next level, by writing a book. What the book does offer a younger reader, like myself, is insight as to what it was like to grow in the 1950’s and 60’s in a biracial family. The hardships that these children, James especially, and his mother endure, are depicted quite well. Each shows how strong of a person Rachel was, and also helped to strengthen the children, which would benefit them later in life. However, the most important thing that came from these anecdotes of racism in the memoir was what it taught me, as a reader. The way that Mommy reacted during each of these instances showed