Every summer Maria and her husband, Bob, went to their little house in the Italian village of Supino, and every year it was a new adventure. Only in Supino would you find a pizzeria in a sheep pasture, a seafood restaurant hidden in the woods, or an electrical cord draped from one balcony to the next so neighbours could share power. In Supino, they celebrate the first figs of the season; host watermelon, azalea, and artichoke festivals; and take pleasure in the magical view of the stars in the summer sky.
Written with humour and heart, Summers in Supino is Maria Coletta McLean’s memoir of these summers with Bob, as she becomes accustomed to the town her father grew up in and the peculiarities of the people who live there. Cousin Guido argues with their neighbour over who can plant a grapevine and therefore reap the harvest. Villagers debate whether one neighbour can trade the installation of some terra cotta tiles and the use of a pizza oven (he has yet to build) for the land beneath Bob and Maria’s patio. And as Maria comes to understand her connection to this wonderful place, Bob proposes they open a coffee bar on the piazza.
Full of wonderfully vivid stories of Italy, Summers in Supino also explores loss, grief, and the restorative power of community.
The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.
In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.
At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college—and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.
Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.