Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Color of Love

  The Color of Love
Author:  Marra B. Gad
Publication Information:  Agate Bolden. 2019. 256 pages.
ISBN:  157284275X / 978-1572842755

Book Source:  I read this book as a selection for a local book club.

Opening Sentence:  "My friend Rosa often says that she is amazed that I can be loving or kind or happy."

Favorite Quote:  "I have a lens into the world very few share. I am the luckiest."

Marra B. Gad is what she refers to as a "mixed-race Jewish unicorn." Her biological parents are a white Jewish woman and a black father. The pregnancy was unplanned, unwanted, and hidden. The baby was to be put up for adoption through a rabbi who had made the placement of Jewish babies with Jewish families his priority. Marra's adoptive parents are white, Jewish, and from Chicago. They adopted Marra at three days old in 1970 and then went on to have two biological children - Marra's brother and sister.

Marra's experiences outside of the family certainly resonate. It is the story of being always made to feel the other. In the black communities, the question arises about how could Marra possibly be Jewish? In Jewish communities, she is made to feel that she does not belong because she is black. Apparently, being black or bi-racial as Marra is and Jewish is a combination that does not exist in people's minds. Hence a unicorn. I do wish this aspect of her life was explored more in the book. These are relevant conversations, and I would be intrigued to hear details of and her perspective on these situations.

For Marra and for many others, this experience spills over into family as well. Her parents, siblings, and grandmother surround Marra with love. However, not everyone is as kind or as accepting. This memoir brings the focus of these relationships down to one - Marra's Great-Aunt Nette. Nette and Marra's mother are close until her comments about Marra drives a wedge in that relationship. As far as Marra's mother is concerned, her daughter is her daughter. Anyone not okay with that is not okay with her.

Fast forward, fifteen years. The family discovers that Nette has Alzheimer's. Because of illness and other family commitments, it seems that Marra is the only one of her siblings or her mother in a position to be able to help. She can walk away because of Nette's treatment of her, or she can help. As she says many times throughout the book, Marra chooses love. This book narrows down in focus down to one relationship and to some extent shifts focus to Alzheimers. I think I would have appreciated a broader view into her perspective and experiences as a biracial, Jewish woman.

At times, this aspect of the book reads as very self-serving. There are repeated statements about how she has the choice to walk away but does not. There are repeated statements about the Four Seasons being a home away from home. There are repeated statements about her IQ and her business acumen. Sometimes, that is part and parcel of the fact that life as a minority often means having to stand up for your qualifications and having to prover yourself over and over again. However, anyone who chooses to read this book does not need that proof.

That being said, this book is ultimately a story about family and love. Choosing love is always good idea.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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