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15+ Works 14,085 Membros 503 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

James McBride studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He was a staff writer for The Boston Globe, People Magazine, and The Washington Post. His works include the memoir The Color of Water, the biography mostrar mais Kill 'Em and Leave, and two novels entitled Miracle at St. Anna and Song Yet Sung. He wrote the screenplay for Miracle at St. Anna when it was made into a movie in 2008. He won the National Book Award for The Good Lord Bird. He is a saxophonist and former sideman for jazz legend Jimmy Scott. He has written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., Gary Burton, and Barney, the PBS television character. He received the Stephen Sondheim Award and the Richard Rodgers Foundation Horizon Award for his musical Bo-Bos co-written with playwright Ed Shockley. In 2005, he published the first volume of a CD-based documentary about life as lived by low-profile jazz musicians entitled The Process. He is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos
Image credit: 2018 National Book Festival By Avery Jensen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72641767

Obras de James McBride

Associated Works

Half and Half: Writers on Growing Up Biracial and Bicultural (1998) — Contribuinte — 138 cópias
The Jewish Writer (1998) — Contribuinte — 53 cópias
An Introduction To: The Joy Luck Club (2006) — Contribuinte — 4 cópias


20th century (46) African American (302) African Americans (87) American (64) American literature (60) audiobook (49) autobiography (147) biography (285) black (45) book club (77) Brooklyn (49) Civil War (48) family (117) fiction (691) historical (59) historical fiction (332) history (58) Italy (47) Jewish (76) John Brown (78) Kindle (59) literature (65) memoir (581) mothers (42) New York (92) New York City (51) non-fiction (404) novel (98) own (58) race (213) race relations (75) racism (104) read (122) religion (47) signed (48) slavery (165) to-read (816) unread (52) USA (75) WWII (86)

Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
Local de nascimento
New York, New York, USA
Oberlin College



When he was young, James McBride's mother, Ruth, wouldn't talk about her own life. He knew there was something different about her, but when he tried to figure out why he was the only black kid he knew with a white mom, she would brush him off by telling him she was light-skinned. Eventually, though, she relented and told him her story, of how a little girl born Jewish in Poland, the daughter of a rabbi, came to marry a black man, have eight kids, become a widow, marry another black man, have four more kids, and then become a widow again, leaving her with twelve children, all of whom graduated from college despite the family's poverty. McBride sets her story against his own recollections of his childhood in his memoir, The Color of Water.

They're both extraordinary stories: Ruth's for its sheer improbability, and James's for being the kind that you'd think would end up one way that actually ends another. James' story has plenty of struggle and heartbreak, but Ruth's is just heartbreaking. Everytime you think it can't get much worse for her, there's another twist and worse it gets. And somehow it ends well, with Ruth being the last in her family to finally get the chance to go to college and graduate and James as an acclaimed writer. It's a testament to resilience, of refusing to let your lowest moments define and drown you, of defying the voices that would dismiss you and discount your worth.

But it's also just very good writing. McBride's juxtaposition of his experience of his childhood against his mother's early life is balanced, neither story feels as though it is given the short shrift in favor of the other. He renders his mother's story in what feels like essentially her own words, not flinching from the difficult parts, of which there are many. Much of this is heavy stuff (interested potential readers should know there's sexual abuse, abortion, death, and racism herein), but while he doesn't sugar-coat it, neither does he dwell on it in the way that books about hard lives sometimes do. Ruth is a woman who came through a lot of terrible things and carved out happiness for herself in a world that did not want to give her any. And though he was raised with much more love and care than his mother was, McBride's own upbringing was still challenging and he managed to come through it, too.

Memoir can be a hit-and-miss category, for me. Not everyone's life story is all that dynamic or engaging for anyone outside of it, and even if it is, so much depends on the skill of the telling of it. But when executed well, as this is, it can be an enlightening window into a realm of experience outside of our own. I don't necessarily know that this is a book for every reader...there's a lot of darkness here, and while it does end well, there's not necessarily a sense of triumph and uplift to counterbalance it. For me, this is part of why this book works, because it doesn't seek to lionize its subjects or turn itself into a paint-by-numbers tale of conquering adversity, but for other readers that might be hard to deal with. But I do think it's a book that should be read, and I do recommend it, so if what I've written here intrigues you, definitely pick it up!
… (mais)
ghneumann | outras 115 resenhas | Jun 14, 2024 |
I didn’t know what I was getting in to with this! So many characters, funny and weird backstories, odd intersections of peoples and cultures, and a surprising plot line. Really fascinating. Felt like a Coen brothers movie. Kind of feel like I need to go back and reread to make sense of all the details.
nicole_a_davis | outras 94 resenhas | Jun 13, 2024 |
Is This An Overview?
In the 1970s, a skeleton is found in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The skeleton has a pendant that leads to The Heaven And Earth Grocery Store. The tale takes the form of a backstory of how the skeleton came to be there, a mystery that is set in the 1920s-1930s. During the time, The Heaven And Earth Grocery Store, along with theaters are owned by Moshe and Chona. Moshe manages the theater, while the disabled Chona manages the store.

The Heaven And Earth Grocery Store acts like a sanctuary for many. A central community gathering place that is recognized for how they help the community. In an era of various forms of persecution, the store and theaters transformed the community into an inclusive region. A region where diverse people who struggle are able to find people who can help them. Diverse people from different ethnicities, cultures, religions, and disabilities.

As a sanctuary, Moshe and Chona are willing to hide a nephew of a friend and colleague. The nephew is a 12-year-old boy called Dodo, who needs to avoid a government agent who is set to take Dodo to a special school for people like Dodo. Dodo became disabled after a kitchen accident. Dodo became deaf, but is able to read lips and be athletic. The request to hide Dodo was due to the poor conditions of the intended school. Dodo is hidden at The Heaven And Earth Grocery Store. Although Moshe and Chona did not have a child, Dodo has become part of the family. Can they keep Dodo hidden? How is this event tied to the skeleton found many years later?

The book covers various socially tense situations, using the language of the era. Ideas and language that are no longer appropriate. The situations are meant to represent the values of people during the time. What they thought and how they reflect on contemporary values.
… (mais)
Eugene_Kernes | outras 94 resenhas | Jun 4, 2024 |
Well paced story with interesting characters with real concerns and challenges, and a bitter heart. The inclusion of modern dissatisfactions/distress is jarring though, as the novel itself makes it's views and message sufficiently clear.
quondame | outras 94 resenhas | Jun 3, 2024 |



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