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James McBride Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Miracle at St. Anna (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Song Yet Sung (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Good Lord Bird (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Five-Carat Soul (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Color of Water (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hard Listening (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Kill 'em and Leave (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

ames McBride was born in Brooklyn, New York, where he attended city public schools. He studied music in Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory music school and went on to graduate further with an MA in Journalism from Columbia University, New York. McBride holds honorary doctorates and works as a renowned resident author at the New York University. He lives between his two homes in New York and Pennsylvania with his wife and three children.

Before taking up a full-time novel-writing career, James McBride wrote for The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, among other notable Magazines in the US. He also wrote for the National Geographic about a featured story titled Hip Hop Planet in April 2007. McBride has written musical lyrics for notable artists like Anita Baker, Gary Burton, and other famous musicians. He also plays the saxophone, and he performed with the legendary jazz maestro Little Jimmy Scott. McBride has received various music awards as a composer such as the Richard Rodgers Foundation Horizon Award and the Stephen Sondheim Award. He also won the National Book award for the book, The Good Lord Bird in 2013.

James McBride Book Review
The Color of Water
James McBride narrates his life as a young man from his mother’s perspective and his own viewpoint in this novel. He touches readers with a dramatic description of growing up as a black kid born of a white mother. He also explains his haunting rumination on racial identity and an emotional written rendition from his mother. Ruth McBride Jordan struggles with racial identity and prefers to use the term “light-skinned” woman is dedicated and steadfastly loves all her twelve black children. James McBride, a thriving black journalist, and musician prods into his mother’s past as well as explores his heritage and upbringing, growing up in a predominantly black society, yet expected to succeed and thrive in a professional setting.

James’ father was a black minister, married to Ruth, a woman in denial of her White heritage. James and his siblings grew up in an unstable home environment in the projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. Ruth was a very protective mother, and she made sure that her kids got the best of what the system offered. She sent them to some of the best Jewish schools and demanded that they stay grounded and bring back good grades and earn respect from their peers. On the other hand, James was mortified as a young man and perceived her as an anxious, and confusion woman. He did not understand her mother’s hidden pain and the secrets she kept to herself about her childhood.

In The Color of Water, the author discovers her mother’s extraordinary story. Ruth was born of a nomadic Orthodox rabbi; her real name was Rachel Dwara Zylska, she was born in Poland, in 1921. Her parents escaped pogroms, migrating to the land of the free-America and settled in Suffolk, Virginia; where highly volatile and anti-Semitic racial tensions took center stage.

Ruth candidly describes her parents’ bland marriage; her delicate, disabled mother; and her brutal, sexual bigot of a father; and how she abandoned the rest of the family and ran away from home. At seventeen, Ruth left Virginia and traveled to New York City. There, she met, and She married an African American religious man, and together they established a church from fellowship sessions conducted in their living room. The two founded an all-black Memorial Baptist Church and named it “The New Brown-Baptist Church.” Ruth McBride trained her children, “God is the color of water,” and confidently influenced their young minds to accept that that life’s values and blessings rise above racial identity. Ruth lost two husbands; she struggled with harsh ridicule, overwhelming misfortune, and racism in an all-black community. Ruth’s tenacity and discipline ensured that all her children attended college and some of them graduated from universities. At age 65, Ruth earned a Social work degree from Temple University.

Combined with his mother’s gripping memoirs, James shares vivid accounts of his childhood as a mixed-race kid growing up in abject poverty in a black neighborhood. He recalls his brief flirtations with abusive substances and violence, and his ultimate self-actualization and proficient success. The Color of Water is a moving tale of love and a haunting account of a mother at crossroads with her identity and the willpower to raise her kids right in an extremely volatile environment.

The Good Lord Bird
1857, Kansas Territory. Henry Shackleford finds himself treading on dangerous paths as a young slave in Kansas when the region sparks animosity flanked by anti-slavery supporters and slavery enthusiasts. John Brown, the anti-slavery crusader, lands in Kansas, and an intense dispute ensues between a young slave and the missionary slave abolitionist. Henry flees town accompanying in his crusades. Meanwhile Brown thinks that Henry is a lass. As months go by, Brown nicknames the young lad “little Onion” in an attempt to conceal his identity as they both struggle to stay alive. In the long run, Little Onion and his master, Brown, find themselves at the momentous invasion on Harpers Ferry, a famous place for the Civil Warmongers in 1859.

A breathtaking tragic account about the complicated and dedicated life of Jon Brown, a slave abolitionist told from the viewpoint of a freed slave boy mistaken for a girl, nicknamed the Onion. The ten-year-old child, Henry, flees with Brown when an argument ensues and his father is accidentally shot in his master’s den. Henry must play safe to consent to their assumption he is a girl named Henrietta. Brown considers her as his lucky charm, although he comes off as a violent extremist and a religious fanatic.

Henry hopes to run away from Brown’s custody. He develops a unique closeness with one of Brown’s sons, Fred, who is mentally challenged but keeps Henry’s identity a secret when he learns that Henry is a boy. Fred feels terrible about Henry’s pretense, but he takes it as a natural means of self-defense and protection of the racist pro-slavery army. Henry has a cynical view of religion and struggles to tolerate Browns lies to fulfill God’s plan. However, he enjoys good vibes from Brown’s articulacy nonetheless. There is an abundance of comic relief through the book as Henry and Brown separate for a time before reuniting once more during Brown’s religious quests.

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