Book Review: “Same Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

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Grab a box of Kleenex tissues…or two. You’re going to need it.

Just this past Christmas, I mass-texted my siblings and their spouses that I wanted a copy of their favorite book if they happened to have chosen my name from the Secret Santa bowl. I received this book in response to that request. My brother-in-law, Steven, said it was his favorite book. I believe that it also has become mine.

As the subtitle suggests, this book is a true story about “a modern-day slave (Denver Moore), an international art dealer (Ron Hall), and the unlikely woman who bound them together (Debbie Hall, Ron’s wife).” Each chapter or two is an interchange between Denver and Ron in which they “speak” in their own voice. You can easily tell whose chapter is whose because Denver’s is written phonetically, in his slight southern accent. Using this technique made reading this book feel like Denver and Ron were writing to the reader a personal letter.

I was at Barnes & Noble bookstore when I read the first chapter of this book. It brought me to tears almost immediately. I could feel the lump in my throat rising, the warm saltiness that stung my eyes before tears emerged, and I quickly had to look around me to make sure I wasn’t caught in the middle of an emotional storm by other patrons. I believe I did cause some sideways glances my way, though.

I read through the book slowly and although I finished this 244-page-turner in just one night, I read it deliberately; touched deeply by the development of faith, friendship, forgiveness, love, and grace amongst and within the key players of this story.  I finished reading with a heavy feeling in my chest that 1) I’ve been loving people the “wrong” way, 2) I have been guilty of having a skewed perspective of homelessness and poverty, and 3) modern-day slavery exists… This book has strengthened my faith, and has expanded my current scope of what I think”love” looks like.

This is simply an “unputdownable”, ubelievably exceptional story that even I couldn’t make up if I wanted to.

“I used to spend a lotta time worryin that I was different from other people, even from other homeless folks. Then, after I met Miss Debbie and Mr. Ron, I worried that I was so different from them that we wadn’t ever gon’ have no kind a’ future. But I found out everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or somethin in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home.”
Denver Moore, Same Kind of Different as Me
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