When I first saw the book Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore popping up here and there, I saw the front cover went on to say, “A modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together.”
Hmm, I thought. Might be interesting. But not enough to compel me to get it. It just didn’t seem to “grab” me.
Then I began seeing it on more and more blogs, getting rave reviews by people I knew and respected.
Hmm, I thought. Maybe I’d better check it out.
So I got it. And put it on my shelf. And it sat there for weeks.
Finally I had a desire to pick it up and read it — after I found it in a box of books that wouldn’t fit on my bookcases.
Wow. I am so glad I did.
I don’t know if most of us have a truly correct view of poverty in this country. I’ve personally known people who lived quite comfortably and happily under what the government set as the poverty level. I’ve known others who felt they were poverty-stricken because they could not afford cable TV service. The poverty described in this book is raw, real, stark, and almost inescapable — almost unfathomable. Denver Moore escaped from virtual slavery on a plantation in Louisiana by riding the rails to what he truly perceived as a better life as a homeless man in Texas.
Ron Hall began serving at a homeless shelter only because his wife wanted him to come with her. “I hate to admit this now,” he writes, “but I had pictured myself more as a sort of indulgence benefactor: I would give him a little bit of my valuable time, which, had I not been so benevolent, I could have used to make a few more thousand dollars. And from time to time, I imagined, if Denver stayed cleaned up and sober, I’d take him of field trips from hobo land to restaurants and malls, a kind of peep show where he could glimpse the fruit of responsible living and perhaps change his ways accordingly” (p. 111).
It didn’t exactly turn out that way.
Both men were challenged, both learned of their own ignorance, assumptions, and prejudices, both were stretched beyond themselves and the world they had known. Both taught each other, learned from each other, and supported each other.
This is a riveting book. Parts of it horrified me, parts had me in tears, parts were sheer beauty.
And it’s true. A real story with real people.