Monday, June 9, 2014


Creative might be the best word to describe writer James McBride. From autobiography to fiction, he captures different topics in the most original way. A journalist and musician, McBride is also an award-winning author whose books, as well a DVD made from one of his titles, are on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library.

James McBride’s first book The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother has become a contemporary classic. McBride’s mother Ruth was the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish merchant and a handicapped mother whose life was stifled in the South by anti-Semitism and a cruel father. She later married an African-American man and had 12 children. Ruth Jordan McBride took her children to every free cultural event and raised them to excel and graduate from college. At the age of 65 she graduated from college. Mixing the chapters between his mother’s story and his own struggles to grow up as a biracial child in a home teeming with kids and chaos, the author captures both his free-spirited mother and his own feelings about being different.

McBride’s other three books all have African-American themes and characters. Miracle at Saint Anna takes place in World War II Italy and is about a group of Black soldiers caught between the racist attitudes of their own white Army comrades and the German enemies. The miracle that takes place as a mute village boy teaches everyone about trust and compassion. The book was made into a movie directed by Spike Lee.  

Song Yet Sung is unique in that it is both historical fiction and fantasy.  Liz, a pursued runaway slave in pre-Civil War Maryland can magically see the future. 

Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction is The Good Lord Bird, which many critics labeled magnificent. This is the outlandishly funny story of a young slave boy who is mistaken as girl and who escapes to take up with the abolitionist John Brown.

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