The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl by Marra B. Gad is now available online and at your local bookstore! In her debut memoir, Marra—the “mixed-race Jewish” woman of the subtitle—describes how she chose to help her racist, abusive, estranged Great-Aunt Nette after Nette developed Alzheimer’s.
This is a story of our moment, ripe with themes of identity, racism, family politics, and more. Like other recent debut memoirs (Educated by Tara Westover; All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung; Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot), The Color of Love is an honest and fresh personal narrative from a voice that needs to be heard. Through her one-of-a-kind perspective, Marra provides insight into the ways survivors transcend brokenness, trauma, and prejudice through love.
To celebrate The Color of Love’s publication, we are sharing a Q&A with the author. Read on to learn more about Marra and the inspiration behind her decision to write a memoir!
Q&A with Marra B. Gad, author of
The Color of Love
Why did you decide to write this memoir now, at this point in your life?
I have always been very private about my life. Part of that was because people had not seemed comfortable, willing, or interested in discussing what I acknowledge are sensitive, delicate, and deeply personal things around my personal story. So I stopped trying to tell it. I believe that there is currently a window to discuss issues of identity, race, and religion that is far wider open than it ever has been . . . and that now there is a space to share my story. I hope this story can be a part of the long-overdue larger cultural conversation about acceptance for all and the ways intolerance, racism, and hatred affect others.
We live in a time when racism, hatred, anti-Semitism, and intolerance are on full display—from the verbal abuse on social media to the violence at play all over the world. We need to talk more about the impact of these things on all fronts.
If now is not the time to share a story like mine, I don’t know when is.
You have an extensive background in film and television production. How has your experience with visual storytelling informed your approach to narrative writing?
I feel really grateful to have worked with writers—first as an actress and now as a producer—for a very long time before I became one myself. From a storytelling perspective, I like to think that my background in TV and film helped me to understand the importance of painting pictures with words. Practically, I think that my professional background helped me to understand how best to engage with my editor and manage the process for myself, and that, while the story and the writing are mine, it does take a team to make a book come to life. And I am thankful for my team.
When your Great-Aunt Nette was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you stepped in to care for her when no one else would—even though she had been unkind to you. What did this experience of caretaking teach you about second chances?
In many ways, it felt more like a first chance than a second chance. The Alzheimer’s quite literally turned Nette into someone that I had never met . . . and who had never met me. In that light, it really was a strange sort of new meeting rather than a second chance. That said, I do find myself grateful that I was open to experiencing her at all given our history. I would say that an open heart and mind are absolutely necessary if one is to consider a second chance. Or a do-over. Or, really, even when meeting someone for the first time.
Your book deals with so many painful experiences. Were there any parts that were particularly challenging to revisit?
The chapter about my father’s death and funeral was excruciatingly painful for me to write. I am blessed with an extremely detailed and vivid memory, but that meant that I relived that time with each word that I typed. I cannot bear to read that chapter. To this day, that remains one of the most searingly painful times of my life.
It was also difficult to be so open about the times when I allowed myself to be made less—whether it was related to my dating life or related to Nette. I speak openly in my book about times in my life when I lessened myself, and to write it and then read it is difficult. But it’s too important not to share.
In the book, you talk about being a “mixed-race, Jewish unicorn.” What advice would you give to other young “unicorns” who may be struggling with their identities?
First, I would want to tell my young unicorn friends in every corner of the world that they are gorgeous and perfect exactly as they are. That it is their uniqueness that makes them beautiful, and that, while at times it feels like we are alone, we are not. There are kindred spirits everywhere. We just have to find ours.
I would also encourage my young friends not to keep their pain to themselves. I kept mine to myself for far too long, and it did not make matters better. Find someone that you trust and that you know sees you and tell them what you are feeling. Ask for support when you need it.
To be a unicorn is a great gift and there is magic in it, but even magical beings need support.
What do you hope readers will take away from The Color of Love?
It is my deepest hope that people will come away from it considering that love is always an option, especially when it might seem easier to choose the opposite of love or when others are choosing the opposite of love. The choice is always ours, and love is always, always, always an option.
What’s next for you?
We are excited about turning the book into a film and are currently entertaining offers for that. I have a feature film and three television shows currently in development, and I’m really looking forward to writing another book. I’m debating between a children’s book and a novel. Perhaps both! Being a writer is definitely my newest frontier, and I’m looking forward to exploring everywhere that might take me.