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Same Kind of Different as Me #1

Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together

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A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery.

An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel.

A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream.

A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it.

It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana . . . and an East Texas honky-tonk . . . and, without a doubt, inside the heart of God. It unfolds at a Hollywood hacienda . . . an upscale New York gallery . . . a downtown dumpster . . . a Texas ranch.

Gritty with betrayal, pain, and brutality, it also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.

Bonus material in this special movie edition includes:

240 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

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About the author

Ron Hall

35 books169 followers
While my daddy was fightin´ the big war in the Pacific, my grandmother delivered me in the farmhouse kitchen near Blooming Grove, Texas, in September 1945. This was back in those days when country girls knew about birthin´ babies and lucky for me, because my granddaddy and the town doctor were on the bucket brigade of a barn fire that night. I grew up in the bed of my granddad's Chevy pickup till it was time to go to school.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,453 reviews
Profile Image for Jackie.
200 reviews16 followers
October 21, 2013
Its awkward to read a memoir when you don't like the subject. It's awkward to read religious propaganda from a religion you don't subscribe to or ever intend to subscribe to. And it's really awkward to feel the terrible sadness of a real person's death while gawking at the absurdity of her family and friends' visions of angels and spirits.

I have to admit I started off with the idea that I wasn't going to like Same Kind of Different As Me. I'd read some reviews and they were largely polarized, with religious folks loving it and everyone else complaining about the preachiness. I fully expected to be in the second camp and got to my nit-picking right away.

One of my pet peeves is book (and movie) descriptions that are not accurate. The subtitle is: A Modern-Day Slave, and International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together. No no no. Yes in his early years, Denver was a "modern-day slave" and lived through shit that most of us cannot imagine. However, he left that life 40+ years ago, and I'd not call the 1960s "modern day". While we're on the topic of slavery, isn't the word "bound" kind of in poor taste? And if anyone is going to bring together a wealthy snob and a jaded homeless man, a wealthy person with a passion for serving the homeless seems to be the most likely person to make the introduction (or is it unlikely for any wealthy person to be genuinely philanthropic?).

Once I got beyond the book jacket things didn't get a whole lot better. While, Denver's story was fascinating, Ron came across like a egomaniac, a woman-hating rich guy pushing his religion. Eventually the cancer story kicked into one heart breaking scene after another and I finally started to become involved with the story and my opinion of Ron slowly climbed. In the end, I did find the book to be inspirational from a civic-works kind of context and I was able to dig out a few pearls of wisdom from Denver's messages.

Once I realized I was reading evangelical propaganda, it all made a little more sense. (Make no mistake this isn't a memoir that happens to be religious, it's published by a publisher who deals exclusively in Christian books.) In a way, I read it as kind of a social-studies text-a view into a world I don't normally see. There are people who believe this stuff and talk like this and attempt to disguise their proselytizing as humanitarian work. Ron and Deborah are probably supposed to be roll models. I could see that the things I disliked about Ron are part of that whole culture. In all, Same Kind of Different As Me reinforced some of the negative stereotypes I already had about evangelicals. I wish that wasn't the case as I'd like to be less judgmental.

Denver's fascinating early life, Deborah's good works, her good intentions and her emotional story all lead me to like this book more than I'd expected to. But the self congratulations, religiousness and propaganda subtracted largely from my ability to like this book.
360 reviews4 followers
November 7, 2008
This was a book group selection, not my own selection. I didn't like it, I thought the style was atrocious, and ultimately I didn't believe one of the narrators (the art dealer). I thought the "modern day slave's" story was absolutely fascinating, but the rich white art dealer was too busy telling us how much better a Christian he was than anyone else. His faith did not sound sincere to me; I felt like he was constantly clubbing me over the head with it.

Please note: some of my book group felt the same way I did, but some felt it was the art dealer's love story to his deceased wife. Some thought it was touching and cried. Didn't have any emotional resonance with me, though.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,080 followers
April 9, 2017
Book Club Discussion Book.
I would never have chosen this book to read but it was our Jan Book Club read and that is how this book ended up on my list.

I didn't enjoy the book however our group had a terrific discussion that lasted for 1.5 hours and I was quite surprised what a great discussion we got from this one. This book has rated very high on GoodReads and many readers have found it inspiring.

Based on a true story.
Denver is a man who was raised under plantation-style slavery in Louisiana in the 1960s; eventually escaped by hopping a train to wander, homeless, for eighteen years on the streets of Dallas, Texas.
Ron, an international arts dealer married to Debbie housewife and a woman with extraordinary faith and a want to help those less fortunate than herself. When Ron and Debbie volunteer at a homeless they befriend Denver and all their life's are changed forever

This is a very spiritual book and is full of spiritual phases so much so that I found it quite preachy and a little off putting . I liked Denver's story although I didn't feel I got to know him as much as I wanted to and felt that the book left out quite large and important parts of his life and seemed to just give the reader what was necessary.
I didn't connect with Ron at all and just couldn't relate to him and his story. His wife Debbie did seem like an amazing charismatic and angel like person and I am not sure this book did her justice. I thought the story was poorly written and seemed to drag quite a bit in places.
I did read that the book has raised a vast amount of money for charity so that is a wonderful achievement and great to see so many homeless people benefit from the proceeds of this book.
While only 2 off our group of 11 enjoyed the read everybody agreed that it was a wonderful discussion book.
Profile Image for Sharon Orlopp.
Author 1 book308 followers
February 9, 2023
Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together is a phenomenal, unique memoir by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Ron Hall is an art dealer and Denver Moore was homeless. Ron's wife, Deborah, served the homeless community at a local mission and invited her husband to join her at the mission.

Each chapter of their memoir is told from their points of view on how their relationship developed. It is a poignant, memorable journey that emphasizes trust, relationships, faith, serving others, and the power of prayer.

Deborah is diagnosed with cancer after an annual physical exam. The tortuous path after the diagnosis requires readers to have a box of Kleenex nearby.
Profile Image for Nandi Crawford.
342 reviews133 followers
March 24, 2008
I am currently reading this book; I saw it in Walmart and I didn't pick it up then, but I just had to get a copy of this book. I'll hold judgement for now but from what I've read, I am touched. No, it may not be the most well written book, it may not be this or that, but if it touches lives, I'm down for it anyday and from what I see here, that's what it's doing.

Well, I finished this within a day and I tell you, I wanted to grab a hanky and cry when Debbie died. One thing that struck me most was when she called up the lady with whom Ron had an affair with and told her that she knew about her, she hoped she find someone that would love and honor her one day, and that she took the blame for what went down in the affair, but that she was going to be working hard on keeping her marriage and if she did her job right, she wouldn't be hearing from Ron again. I tell you, a LOT of us could have learned a lesson from this lady because she handled it with style and grace. With that said, let me move on to Denver. Denver and the things he went through was sad. I thought he would talk about how things were, and he did but to a point. I felt bad when he lost his grandmother, father, and other family members because I truly felt he needed them. I wanted to truly weep when he talked about the fire that took his paternal grandmother and cousin. I wanted to weep when he talked about working but that all in all, "the man" was fair because if they "ALL" was rich, then no one wanted to work. I believe in God and his miracles and I truly believe that He performed one when Debbie and Ron went to the homeless mission and tried to help the folks there. I only hope and pray that coming away from this book that folks get touched enough to help someone like Debbie and Ron did and make this world a more better place.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 4 books571 followers
January 31, 2016
Like some of my other most rewarding reads, this is one that "snuck up on me." I'd read and liked a review of it by a Goodreads friend some time ago, but I read and like a LOT of reviews; so I'd long since forgotten that I'd ever heard of the book when someone donated a copy to the library where I work. But I thought the call number/classification assigned to it by the Library of Congress looked dubious, and decided to read it in order to make my own judgment. It proved to be a very powerful and meaningful reading experience, which I'm very glad to have stumbled upon, even by accident!

Authors Ron Hall and Denver Moore alternate in the telling of their life stories, beginning in childhood. Lynn Vincent's contribution was apparently to splice them together --and probably to write down Moore's oral narrative, since he is, or at least was when the book was written, illiterate. (To her credit, she didn't attempt to change his simple dialect into polished "standard" English.) Moore was apparently born in ca. 1936, Hall in the late 1940s; they didn't meet until 1998, so most of their life stories proceeded along separate tracks. The story of God's working in both of their lives after they met, however, occupies more than half of the book. These are two very disparate men, unlikely to imagine as acquaintances, let alone friends. Hall was a white Texas boy, from a working class Ft. Worth neighborhood, who used college as a ticket to a more affluent life and ultimately became a wealthy art dealer. Along the way, he'd become an evangelical Christian; but his religion hadn't radically impacted his life, and he had his share of fashionable prejudices about the homeless. Moore was from a family of black sharecroppers in Louisiana, living in a condition of virtual peonage, who stowed away on a train in his late 20s and wound up in Ft. Worth, where he spent most of the next decades of his life (except for a ten-year stint in Angola Prison, and before that some time in Los Angeles) homeless on the street. (He'd been baptized as a child, and had devout adults in his life then; but in adulthood, faith hadn't played any big role in his life.)

Although she doesn't contribute a first-person strand of her own to this memoir, however, this is also the life story of Ron's wife Deborah. The couple became Christians early in their married life, but she took her faith more seriously and let it shape her more deeply. In 1998, she felt called by God to volunteer some time at Ft. Worth's Union Gospel Mission, which ministered to the poor and homeless. She also felt that Ron should join her, which he did reluctantly. When Denver came to their attention, she felt impressed that God had an important destiny in mind for him, and that he and Ron should become friends. (That was not, at the time, very high on either man's to-do list!) What follows is a remarkable true story of what Christian readers will recognize as the marvelous working of God, which changed not only both men's lives but those of many others.

Though this is nonfiction, it reads like a novel. While they don't go into sordid detail for its own sake, neither man sanitizes his life story; they're two flawed human beings touched by God. They aren't writing to make us think that they're wonderful, but to help us recognize that God is wonderful. Along the way, they touch on some profound modern social problems: racism, poverty, exploitation, technological unemployment, homelessness. And they grapple with life's tragedies, in which the bad things that happen to good people we love make "the problem of theodicy" an inescapable part of life instead of a theological conundrum. There's also an implicit message here about Christian social responsibility. But it's first and foremost a story of the what the liberating grace of God can do in the midst of a very fallen and cursed world, when we respond to Him in faith and self-surrender.

Special appended features of the book include about two and a half pages of discussion questions about themes raised in the book, a four-page interview with the authors by the publisher ("TN" stands for Thomas Nelson), and nine pages of black-and-white photographs.

There are parts of this book that will tear your heart apart. But it's ultimately a very beautiful and luminous story, and IMO a great faith builder. I give it my highest possible recommendation!
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
December 8, 2012
Definitely heartwarming. A feel-good book and an appropriate one to usher this season of love. I made the right decision to pick this up to celebrate the start of Advent.

This is a story of three people whose lives intersect beautifully resulting to their realizations of who they are and what they are capable to accept. This acceptance leads not only for them to be at peace with themselves but also to witness a modern miracle: how faith can influence other people to do whatever good they can do for others.

I always believe that our appreciation of the books we are reading is influenced by those that we read right before or those books that we read simultaneously. I think reading too much fantasy (courtesy of Murakami's 1Q84) and tragedy (courtesy of Amado V. Hernandez's Luha ng Buwaya) made my heart a bit jagged so I had to pick up this book for the much needed diversion. Compared to the two I mentioned, Same Kind of Different as Me is a straightforward and an inspiring story.

Denver is a young black man who escapes the hardships in the sharecropping farms in Louisiana. Homeless, he comes to the city, and meets Ron whose wife, Debby is suffering from cancer. What comes next seems like a worn-out plot from many novels of this kind but Hall's narrative is truly heartfelt most probably because this is based on a true story. There is now really a Deborah Memorial Hall in the US.

The book was #11 on the January 9th, 2009 New York Times Best Seller list for paperback non-fiction. A total of at least 300,000 copies have been sold worldwide. (Source: Wiki).

If you feel like getting some dose of inspiring and heartwarming reads this Christmas, consider this book!
62 reviews
June 24, 2018
i had no idea this was printed by a division of nelson, a christian publisher or i would not have read it. but i am glad i did as it raised more questions than it answered and was fantastic on so many levels. the mystery, magic and miracles described...the fascinating story of denver...a modern day slave, and the question of the value of prayer for anyone, believer or not was thot provoking for the hardline evangelical. but denver's life, dialect/speech and history was the highlight. the chapters alternate between rich white man and illiterate 55-70 year old black man.

update...i am shocked to still be receiving "likes" for my review of this book...i guess i should reread it...i'll write another update when i do (since 2009... in case it doesn't show... this is june of 2018) because maybe i would say more about the religious aspect of this book. as a process i was moving farther and farther away from my childhood faith as i tried to indicate by saying i wouldn't have read it had i known it was a christian publisher. i no longer consider myself to be a christian...so if only christians continue to read this book and say "yay for god", i will be disturbed...like back in your evangelical communities people are still recommending this book as "inspiring"...sigh. the review is not quite what i should have said. but if non religious people are actually reading it despite the christian publisher i will love to hear their take. i didn't specify what ?s it brought up for me. i also will check out more Goodread reviews to see what unbelievers see in it.
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
January 4, 2020
This book had a profound impact on me emotionally. I read it shortly after it was published in 2006. It was very encouraging and I remember telling friends that this was an essential read.
It saddens me that some reviewers felt that they were not alerted to its Christian focus. I stay away from most theology and doctrine based stories. This book was focused on friendship and how to be there for someone else as a person of Christian faith. I am not sure why that would be unappealing but apparently some have found it so. I would just like to apologize to those who feel that way because sometimes, Christians are not always thoughtful on how they express their thoughts, beliefs or opinions. Actually, I don't think we can just ascribe these traits to Christians alone. If you felt someone has tried to bulldoze you with their beliefs, I know that can be offputting. I find I feel similarly with politics and certain devoted sports fans.
Faith is very much a person experience and I don't like to be pushed nor pulled in a certain direction.
This book was helpful to me. I can respect that others would not feel the same. That's okay. We are all at various places in our lives.
Why, I've reread books years later to ask, why did I think this was so great? Then I realize much of my impressions are based on experience(s). What changed wasn't that book, it was the way I perceived it.
132 reviews
February 23, 2009
When I was at FSU, a girl came up to me in the public restrooms and started chatting with me. She was very nice and friendly, but at the end of the conversation, just like that, she invited me to go on a Christian retreat with her. I was very put off by this. She'd maybe talked to me for 2 minutes and proceeded to invite me to a whole weekend activity as if we were old friends.

That's kind of how this book made me feel. Just as I'm getting to know the characters and their backgrounds, suddenly they start talking religion--they see visions and angels, have prayer circles constantly, and, in general, put me off. Not that I'm not religious, and believe in angels, visions, and praying, but it just seemed too in-your-face to me.

That said, I still think it's a worthwhile read and would be interested to hear what other people think.
Profile Image for Jessica.
392 reviews30 followers
February 16, 2009
While I enjoyed Denver's passages, Ron's passages left me with an uneasy, almost offended feeling. There is a point where he is talking about enlisting and he speaks of an incident with a woman he smoked pot with. Twice within the same paragraph he refers to her simply as the "fat chick". I was completely taken aback and aghast at such a juvinile and mean spirited statement that he felt the need to reiterate a few sentences later. There is another passage he talks about his $500 European Designer glasses that rubbed me the wrong way. I found him preachy and full of self righteousness.

Denver's passages were real and I truly felt he was a good person to his core. I wish this book was more about his story. About half way through the story takes a sharp turn and becomes the story of Ron's wife Debbie that ulimately dies from cancer. It continues on that path to the end. Barely mentioning Denver becoming an artist. I wanted to hear more about Denver's art, how he discovered his talent and his metamporphasis. I felt a little railroaded into reading a cancer story. Both the synopsis and the pictures included are misleading. There are many pictures of Denver and even of his art, which they never discuss and only two of Debbie, leading me to believe I was going to read a book about Denver and his path to art. Very disappointing. I would give 4 stars to Denver's passages but no stars to Ron's.
Profile Image for Ann.
475 reviews8 followers
October 21, 2017
Well, the evangelism sort of worked: I spent the whole book thinking, "Dear God" and "Good Lord" and "Oh Jesus Christ." So that's something.

I mean, I can't argue with this book any more than I can argue with a fairy tale. Good Guy (white, rich, super privileged) "saves" Bad Guy (black, poor, super oppressed) and learns some life lessons in the process. There are archetypes, specifically the White Savior and Magical Negro. A subplot tells readers that suffering leads to redemption (most obvious in chapter 31: "Pain makes life fuller, richer"). Supernatural forces are at work. And the main characters live happily ever after.

I can't call bullshit on that kind of story. It's too like cotton candy: sweet and airy with a tendency to dissolve if you look at it a little too hard. All that's left is a contempt with Denver's dialect (if you want to make someone sound really ignorant, have him drop his Gs, I guess) and a disgust with the proselytizing.

I did, however, find myself wondering about the people who love this story, especially in regards to race and class relations. How do they feel about the Black Lives Matter movement? What do they think about a group of people fighting for the freedom to live without fear, but in ways that aren't always compliant or convenient? Do they champion social safety nets--welfare, universal health care, affirmative action; the kinds of programs that support people who struggle with "modern-day slavery"--even when they're paying their taxes? Will they help people who are a different kind of different as them?

It's one thing to befriend (and, let's be honest, profit from) that one scary-looking black guy who's down on his luck. It's another thing entirely to work to restructure a culture that keeps him there.

But what do I know. Apparently a huge number of people found the book to be an inspiring story about grace in the desert or whatever. Maybe they really will go out and make the world a better place. Even fairy tales can come true.
Profile Image for Tasha .
1,010 reviews37 followers
March 10, 2012
Wow! A beautiful, heartwarming story. If I hadn't been given this book by a friend I'm not sure I would have ever come across it. I am SO glad it found it's way to me and I randomly picked it up to read...yesterday. I couldn't put this one down and finished it in 2 days. If you choose to read this one, be prepared to experience an emotional ride. It was full of religion, which I usually avoid like the plague, but surprisingly it didn't bother me as it was what was relevant to the authors' lives. It may not be my belief, but it was part of the story, a good one. It was almost magical at times. Highly, highly recommend!!

Ok, now that I've had some time to process this book (I wrote the review right after I finished, while still raw with emotion) I can now come back with a more detached review. I still think it is a 5 star book, namely because of the emotions it drew out of me. So that remains unchanged. What has changed is my perception of what I see as the religiosity of this book. Thinking on it more now, I see that it might be more preachy than I originally thought, but frankly, that still works for me with this book. Thinking back on some of the scenes, and knowing now that it was published by a Christian publisher, I can see where there may have been some drama added to make it a draw for conversion to Christianity. I am NOT a religious person by any means, I believe strongly in other spiritual things (not for discussion here) but admittedly found myself almost "falling" for Christianity and it's miraculous events. ok, so I don't look for, nor like religious/preachy books. In fact, I run from them. (reading this book was a fluke and I had no idea what I was getting into). So the fact that I was caught up in the religiosity of it, to me, means it was a powerful book. So still 5 stars. Have I converted to Christianity, no. Can I see how people may after this book, perhaps. So, to me then, it works.

The story is more than just religion though. It is about the power of friendship and acceptance. I loved it still.
Profile Image for booklady.
2,199 reviews65 followers
January 16, 2016
A recommendation from my daughter's college roommate, an Evangelical Christian who doesn't even like to read, but she was squeezing this book in between Thermal Dynamics and Bio-Chemical Engineering homework, college life, church and a boyfriend. It seemed a high endorsement.

Same Kind of Different as Me is a true story about how God likes to bring people together for His own purposes. In this case, we have a former cotton-picker, turned runaway, street man, ex-con, who meets a wealthy art dealer in Forth Worth, Texas. They are an unlikely pair and form an even more unusual and yet incredibly enviable friendship, which allows Divine Providence to work great things in and through both men. As often happens when Our Lord is at work in human affairs, the one who initiates things as the "giver" soon finds himself on the receiving end of the relationship.

I read almost 9/10 of the book in just one day. Very enjoyable and spiritual enriching as well, while skirting the tempting waters of preaching-at-the-reader.
231 reviews36 followers
March 22, 2009
The first thing I noticed about this book is that it was reviewed by Barbara Bush, and her review made me throw up in my mouth a little. (In case anybody is interested, when I hear the name "Barbara Bush", I hear again Barbara's voice on the radio during the aftermath of Katrina, saying how the shattered former New Orleanians at the Houston shelter "never had it so good." I will never forgive her for that. And Laura! Laura couldn't even remember the name of the hurricane)

Somehow this book had that weirdly clueless quality that I associate with the Bushes. I feel a little bad about saying that; it's a sweet little book, and clearly the protagonists (Denver, 61 and black and homeless, and Ron, 55 and rich and white) tried to be as honest as they could in telling their stories. But this is a memoir, and what makes memoirs resonate is complete honesty: telling the bad as well as the good. Ron and Denver try to tell the bad and the good about themselves, but they just can't bring themselves to say anything bad about Ron's wife Deborah, whom they both view as a perfect saint. Maybe she was all they say she was; but humanity, not divinity, is what makes saints interesting. If you leave out their warts, they become two-dimensional, and that's how Deborah comes off; and that made the whole story kind of...precious. And I don't mean that nicely.
1 review
December 3, 2008
The Denver part of the story was very interesting but, I found Ron to be selfish and uninteresting. I could careless about how much he (Ron) was spending on new homes, cars ect. Denver's life was heart-breaking and I really enjoyed reading about his life
Profile Image for Gary.
159 reviews4 followers
April 2, 2009
Admittedly the broken english title "Same Kind of Different as Me" piqued my interest and boy did I enjoy this book. It is an autobigraphy of two men and the miraculous events that were orchestrated bringing two vastly different lives and lifestyles to intersect in a purely heavenly moment. Something every reader should get out of this book is a deeper understanding of homeless people and a greater mystery of providence. If you feel you have been given a bad hand and would like to dive into the deep mystery, read this book.
4 reviews
April 8, 2008
A wonderful true story, especially in today's rush-rush world where we barely notice those around us. A truly inspiring story of how one woman's love, motivation and faith connected two very unlikely gentlemen and part of a city.

Set mostly in Fort Worth, TX it was especially interesting for me to read something set so close to home.

This book was a learning experience for me on so many levels, but it espeically opened my eyes to things I had no idea went on in our recent history. But also to the fact that while we are each quite different we are also each so very much alike when it comes to our core needs/wants.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone. It's a must read and an easy and quick read. And it's a book you won't want to put down once you get started.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
962 reviews100 followers
March 21, 2021
I hadn’t heard anything about this book until my book club chose to read it. I enjoyed reading Denver’s story and wish that more about him had been included in the book. Denver had lived a very hard life until he met Deborah and Ron Hall, whose story is interwoven with Denver’s. I did find the early part of the book interesting. It sheds light on the plight of twentieth century southern sharecroppers, and this was shocking and saddening. The book is a call for more people to help the homeless and downtrodden people who live on the fringes of our society.

The second half of the book, however, was more of an attempt to evangelize readers. This is something that doesn’t appeal to me, and my book group colleagues felt the same way.
Profile Image for J Beckett.
142 reviews404 followers
April 27, 2018
There are occasions when a reader is drawn to a book because of its title, cover or both. The contents become secondary, practically an after-thought. But it is the title and cover, in its complexity or simplicity… that often clinches the deal. Oddly, and perhaps only in my sensibilities, this applies (in its simplicity) to Ron Hall and Denver Moore’s book, Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together.

With an awkwardly handwritten and excessively descriptive title, coupled with a muted and arid but luminous drab pale yellow , Same Kind of Different as Me, could be told by scanning the cover without ever reading a word. The addition of an older Black man, a railroad crossing sign implying more than transportation (being from the other side of the tracks, perhaps?), a lone structure that could be a house and an empty landscape all effectively symbolize details to be found in the story. But beyond the cover, the words are stunning. The collective story is profound. The messages of life, love, and humanity, peppered with historically significant events, although often wordy, are as clear as confessions of sin.

I opted for the audio book version of Same Kind of Different As Me, certain that there would be — through the dramatic inflections of the human voice — greater authenticity in the telling of the story, and to undoubtedly heighten my appreciation for the depth of the tragedy and triumphs that the characters and their individual tales bestowed. I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t disappointed. The audio book catapulted the story beyond expectation and heightened my visual.

Same Kind of Difference as Me is the story of Denver Moore, a Black man, whose personal perils and melancholy filled life are directly attributed to the color of his skin and the emptiness of his pocket, Ron Hall, a very successful art dealer, and Ron Hall’s wife, Beth, both of whom are cast as philanthropic humanitarians, initially more for self gratification (but, it seems, not in an insincere manner) and later by way of “spiritual” awakening. This is the story about being vastly different in an America that promises equality, and how those differences are so clear they have become practically invisible. It is the story of the second oldest form of segregation in the entire world: money, and how the wealthy and the impoverished view each other as different species.

The reader will find that Denver Moore’s narratives were considerably more engaging than the others. This is not to say that the other characters lacked any of the nuances that would make for a spirited and riveting tale, but Moore’s stories were filled with the emotion only a walk through the fires of hell can produce. It was felt. I felt it. The opportunity to walk in his blister causing shoes hit a nerve, over and over again, as his stories pulled from the depths below where the rocks gathered, and his honest confrontations with sorrow, tragedy, bad luck and self-imposed alienation in immeasurable abundance, were his cause de rigueur against those who offered help and his general lack of trust. There are points within in the book where Denver openly describes himself as an opposing figure, an ogre, the unapproachable beast, emotionless and pitifully satisfied with his view of how the world views him (my words). This self view proves more penetrable than even he seemed to expect, as he lives the life he seeming felt he deserved.

To be honest, there were many questions not adequately answered; many beyond the contents within the book and maybe this is why a second book (What Difference Do it Make?) was quick to follow (I have not yet read this book — and may not at all). I couldn’t help but question if Denver became another piece of art for Ron(after a personal tragedy) or a cash cow whose story could pull, ideally, at the heart strings of a sympathetic country (just reread the title of Ron’s second book); a way for Ron Hall to make money through a story that he could only imagine based on the reality of another’s impecunious sorrow . I may be digging deeper than necessary, but it was Ron who open that Pandora’s box as he also questioned the initial sincerity of his friendship with Denver toward the end of the story.

Still I’d say read or listen to Same Kind of Different As Me, I’d like to know what you think and if you got from it any of what I did.

(Audiobook is highly recommended!!!)
39 reviews3 followers
March 26, 2014
This book is a little too self congratulatory. The story unquestionably shows the power of doing good selflessly and the background story of one of the characters is tragic and fascinating. But by the end, the book is nothing more than an evangelical preaching session, losing site of its original message in favor of talking itself up, in the tradition of the old time gospel hour.
Profile Image for Leslie.
342 reviews13 followers
April 21, 2009
I don’t know what it is about my book club picks this year. They seem to be taking a religious, emotional turn at full speed around a curve with no side rail. Perhaps it’s because of the difficult times we are facing. Perhaps people are drawn to inspirational tales of overcoming obstacles and wanting to discuss them in an open forum. So far, 3 of the last 5 books we’ve read have dealt with death on some level and it’s not even Halloween yet. Not Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery type of death, but long drawn out, miserable suffering sort of death. Do I want to read about this stuff in a time of crisis? In the words of Charlie Brown, good grief,no, no, no. Not one right after the other. I’m starting to have nightmares. Seriously.

With that said, if you’re still even reading this depressing ink (if I were you I’d have stopped long ago) my third tale of woe in this series of “inspirational” reading, is one of Denver Moore, a man born and raised in Louisiana in the 40’s and 50’s, and until the late 60’s worked for “the man” on a share-cropping farm. He’s never been to school a day in his life. Never gotten a birthday present. Never owned a home or a car. He’s a man who’s skimmed along the surface of life without anyone noticing. Until he meets Ron Hall and his wife Debra at a homeless shelter, two rich people trying to make a difference. They notice him, and everything changes, for all three of them.

If this book had only been about Denver, I probably would give it 4 stars. His story was very interesting and almost unbelievable. A modern day slave on a cotton farm, he worked for nothing but food and a roof over his head until he literally jumped on a train to Texas and while there remained homeless for almost thirty years. Somehow what he said rang true.

However, Ron Hall’s part of the story (as it is told from both their perspectives) I found to be self-indulgent and (here’s that dreaded word again) preachy. He talks of his “poor” beginnings in a white middle class family. How he smoked pot with “fat chicks” in college and how later he rose from Campbell Soup salesman to a fantastic and super rich art dealer of the famous. Somewhere along the way with the help of his saintly wife, and after he’s caught having an affair, he finds God and a purpose in life. His wife drags him to a homeless shelter where the two of them come across Denver, who is of course all too happy to be hounded by two rich people with a cause. It’s not hard to guess what happens next.

So, I’ll say no more of this get happy tale but this: ugh.
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
1,986 reviews208 followers
April 19, 2019
It's about gettin' religion. I'm a sucker for these stories - because I believe them. There is a higher power and that HP works its way into all of us no matter what we call it, and even if we declare it Nothin'! So. . . I'm predisposed to liking this story.

What I particularly loved was Denver being allowed by the Publishing Gods to use his own voice and vernacular and way of speaking, for the most part. There must have been some kind of standard set as they began to pin vocalized sounds to paper in letters and words that a reader could reliably interpret. I liked Ron's voice the same way - although I gotta say I didn't like him at all for a while.

Deborah - now there's a gutsy girl. I admired her push and pull and power.

So, yeah. This is a story about gettin' religion in a natural, organic way; the best way, really, which is service to others. All others. Not just the others you choose.

I'd recommend it to anyone who feels the niggle that they ought to do so. If it doesn't hit you that way. . .meh - put it away for another day or another pair of eyes. Like all stories it is best suited for the eyes that are ready to see and ears that are ready to hear.
Profile Image for Carol.
824 reviews481 followers
March 23, 2011
It’s happened enough that I should know better. When our book group decided to read Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore, I wasn’t positive I would like it. Needless to say, I did; I really liked it!

I’m not certain what I was expecting as the book was described as an unlikely friendship between a homeless man and wealthy art dealer. I just couldn’t get my head around the idea that there was something to say here.

Denver Moore, a black man brought up in 50’s Louisiana; shifted from place to place, suffering terrible losses at a young age, surviving by the hand of The Man, eventually ends up homeless on the streets of Fort Worth, Texas.

Ron Hall, also a child of those times, but with a whole different background, finds himself selling million dollar art work and married to a saint of a woman, Debbie. What seemingly should have been Debbie’s story to tell is handed to Ron and Denver after Debbie’s death.

When Ron and Debbie Hall are first married, they label themselves non-believers. Debbie convinces Ron to join her for a visit to the Union Gospel Mission. Here she finds a place and faith that fits, never looking back. On their first visit to the mission, Debbie tells Ron that she pictures the mission as a different place, “no vagrants, no trash, just a beautiful place where people can get to know god”. How does she know this? She had a dream. As she becomes a regular volunteer, Debbie shares another dream, one about a man, a wise man who changes the city. She saw him. She saw his face. When Denver visits the mission one day, Debbie knows this is the man in her dreams.

As you can tell from the above this is a faith based book. But it is far more than that. It is an exploration of friendship, race, prejudice to the homeless, black, and even the wealthy. It delves into death and dying and end of life issues that will get under your skin. It is a celebration of the life of a strong woman, the man who loved her and a man who would do anything to carry out her dream.

Denver is one fine story-teller and his voice is funny, sad and inspirational indeed.

Those of us brought up in the north can never truly appreciate the realities of the civil rights struggle, sharecropping, and what it meant to be a Negro in the south. We do have some clue about homelessness. The conversation went round and round and we came to no concrete conclusions. Still, I don’t think that any of us read Same Kind of Different As Me without a conscience look at these issues. Books; they take you places, some prettier than others, but it’s always worth the journey.

Profile Image for Jerry.
4,631 reviews57 followers
November 20, 2016
An amazing story of an unlikely friendship, and the power of God. I generally don't read non-fiction except for the Bible; in this case, I'm glad I made an exception!
Profile Image for Amanda.
67 reviews40 followers
July 17, 2011
I began reading this for one book club but ran out of time. But then the other book club I'm in picked this book too. Guess it is time to start reading this all the way through this time.

I'm glad I was presented with another opportunity to read this book. I'm not sure if I would have picked it up to finish again if it hadn't been for the selection to read this with my other book club. It still did not make it into my top book picks but it still served the purpose of a good read and offering thought provoking moments throughout.

The beginning of the book was a little slow for me. However I understand that the author needed to build the back story. I'm not sure I appreciated the different voices used to write this story (Denver and Ron) but it was almost as if it was fitting to the title and almost necessary for the book.

Meeting for the book discussion raised many questions and deep thought. How does one decide when it is time to let go with death? Is your faith strong enough to get you through the hard times and still stay with God? More importantly, how could one start to live their life in hopes to being (or trying to aspire to be) the next Deborah? Also just for a thought, one girl from our group sent out the idea, "we don't know what angels look like".

One of my favorite parts from this book is when Denver asks Ron if he is going to catch and release him. This in turn had me sit and think about the friendships I have "caught and released". Part of me feels they were necessary to my own development as a person yet another piece asks if I might have abandoned some in their "time of need (growth)". Have you ever caught and released someone in your life?

I feel I am still searching for something to make my life whole. I often sit and wonder what it is that I may be called to do. How could I best use my gifts to help others in this world? Do I have the strength to leave my comfort and dive head first into whatever it may be?

Now onto some quotes...

"... who knows our number of days. I intend to fulfill each one of mine."

"Am I terminal? ... We're all terminal... None of us makes it our of here alive."

"People think they're in control, but they ain't. The truth is, that which must befall thee must befall thee. And that which must pass thee by must pass thee by."

"How do you live the rest of your life in just a few days?"

Spoiler (last few lines of the book)
"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 something in between. this earth ain't no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless - just workin our way toward home."
Profile Image for Joyce.
92 reviews
August 19, 2008
I wish I could say I liked the book. I felt ambushed about half way through when it became a cancer story. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense, but having lost one of my sons to cancer and then a few years ago my brother, it is hard to read stuff like that without somehow steeling myself for it first. In any case, I just didn’t care for how it was written, even beyond the cancer part of the story. Maybe a bit too much of patting themselves on the back. I don’t know. I did not feel like it was that way when they were talking about Deborah, but when talking about themselves, I did. Perhaps a story like this is better done by someone outside of the narrative? There is a chance I’m completely off base, since many people really like the book. And, in the sense that it reminds and even compels us to remember those less fortunate than us, it is worth reading.
Profile Image for Kim Villarreal.
28 reviews3 followers
April 21, 2008
I think the concept for this book was great. But whoever helped the two main characters tell their stories added so much fluff for "dramatic content" that the story was almost ruined for me by the end. I think if Denver Moore and Ron Hall had just told their story simply it would have been a wonderful book. I had a hard time believing that anyone actually said any of the dialogue by the time I finished.
Profile Image for Denise.
17 reviews
February 9, 2019
Very rarely do I give 5 stars to a book, but this one really changed my life. The true story of a homeless black man and a wealthy white art dealer whose paths cross and change each other forever. I cried more throughout this book than any other book, ever.
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