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Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

June 19, 2011

Ron Hall was an international art dealer, living the good life.  He and his family wanted for nothing.  Hall’s wife, Deborah, was a very religious woman and she believed in practicing what she preached.  At her insistence, Ron and Deborah started volunteering once a week at a mission in Forth Worth.  It was at that mission that they encountered, and became friends with, Denver Moore, a man whose background couldn’t be more different from theirs.

I enjoyed Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent, as I read it, but I as I finished it, I was filled with conflicting emotions.  Subtitled A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman who Bound Them Together, Ron and Denver’s friendship is remarkable, but I had the nagging feeling that Ron felt he was doing Denver a favor by befriending him.

Same Kind of Different as Me is told in a linear fashion, giving readers background on Ron, Denver and Deborah.  Ron is portrayed as ambitious, willing to do almost anything for the almighty buck, Denver is the son of sharecroppers who never had a chance in life and Deborah is portrayed as being almost saintly.  I think that’s part of what bothered me about the book – I felt that everyone was portrayed as too good.  I also couldn’t figure out how the Halls had time to do all they did with the shelter.

Ron and Denver wrote this book with Lynn Vincent and she filled it with emotion.  I almost felt manipulated in the way it was told.  It alternates between Ron and Denver’s stories and their voices.  Denver’s part of the story is filled with slang and colloquialisms and Ron’s story is told in a more formal manner.  The writing is good, but not great.  I think most of the people who’ve loved this book have responded to the emotions in the story.  This book is very religious, which is a genre I usually don’t read, but it was my book club pick for June.   My book club was divided (almost done the middle) between absolutely loving the book and liking it the way I did.

Overall, Same Kind of Different as Me was an enjoyable book.  It does give readers food for thought.  I think it will appeal most to those who enjoy religious books.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2011 5:18 am

    I don’t usually read religious books, but I might try this one. I know what you mean about “too good” characters – that’s just so unbelievable.

  2. June 19, 2011 6:18 am

    It sounds like an interesting read especially if in a book club setting. I don’t think it’s really my cup of tea but maybe I can find a few folks to read it with…

  3. June 19, 2011 6:29 am

    I have wanted to read this book for a long time. Surprise, the book is religious. I didn’t know. Just thought of it as biography. I liked the book because of the title. Proves you can’t tell everything by a title. lol. Great review.

  4. June 19, 2011 7:21 am

    Your insights about the way the individuals are portrayed made me think this book might grate on me somewhat. I don’t tend to read alot of books with a religious “message” although I do enjoy books about religion, if that makes sense.
    I’m wondering if you were surprised that this was your book club’s choice…it seems like an unusual one for a book club.

  5. June 19, 2011 7:31 am

    I always wonder about people who seem so saintly. One keeps waiting for the bomb to drop about some secret life or something!

  6. June 19, 2011 9:31 am

    Interesting juxtaposition with the voices of Denver and Ron being represented through -formal and other being colloquial – sometimes it works & sometimes it just causes a disparity for the reader. Keeping your words in mind and will set it aside for future reference.

    Another amazingly honest review. Bravo!

  7. June 19, 2011 10:18 am

    I have this in my tbr pile. Interesting review! Now I am curious to see what i will think of it. I do know what you mean about people sounding too good to be true. Thanks for the honest review. Brave choice for a book club selection. Religion and politics are both subjects which could really bring up some heated discussions.

  8. June 19, 2011 10:30 am

    Great review, thanks.

  9. June 19, 2011 10:32 am

    I don’t tend to enjoy books where I feel manipulated and the characters are just oh so perfect, so I am not sure I would like this one. I had not ever heard anything about it before, except for the title, so your review really intrigued, but overall the specifics you mention pretty much assure that I won’t be reading this one. Very thoughtful and honest review, Kathy. I appreciated it.

  10. June 19, 2011 10:54 am

    I haven’t heard of this book before, but it sounds very interesting. I’ll have to check this one out sometime.

  11. June 19, 2011 12:01 pm

    This doesn’t really sound like my kind of book, but I’m glad it’s a thought-provoking one.

  12. June 19, 2011 3:02 pm

    Even though good things were done by the Halls, it doesn’t sound as if the story was told honestly and completely. When an author trys to portray a character as saintly, it doesn’t work. The reader knows that can’t be true. Then the reader doubts whether the rest of the story is true. I’ll pass on this one.

  13. June 19, 2011 3:14 pm

    Well I love the title and the synopsis sounded okay. But then when you mentioned the religious part, I kind of lost interest. I tend to shy away from religious books because I’m not a religious person at all. Still, I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there that will love this book.

  14. June 19, 2011 3:31 pm

    I do not like people who are too good. Sure I am a good person but I am not that good. I am very greedy when it comes to candy 😉

  15. June 19, 2011 5:31 pm

    I don’t think this is a book for me. I don’t mind religious books, but I like when people are portrayed more realistically.

  16. June 19, 2011 6:26 pm

    Thanks for the honest review. I know what you mean how these kind of books can start to seem a little too sugarcoated to feel “real.”

  17. June 19, 2011 7:50 pm

    Sometimes, books that are harder to grasp emotionally are the best stories.

  18. June 19, 2011 8:54 pm

    Sounds interesting but also as if there’s quite a bit of manipulation going on. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful review!

  19. stacybuckeye permalink
    June 19, 2011 9:53 pm

    If your underlying feeling was that Ron was doing Denver a favor it would be hard to completely buy into.

  20. June 20, 2011 12:47 am

    That title is interesting. i might actually read this to see how I feel about it.

  21. June 20, 2011 8:47 pm

    You know, sometimes I’m okay with being manipulated emotionally but this one does sound like one where that might really start to gnaw at me.

  22. June 21, 2011 12:16 am

    It’s funny–I was one who LOVED this book, but on the other hand, I agree 100% with your review.

  23. June 21, 2011 10:09 am

    I felt the same way when I read The Soloist. The writing wasn’t all that great and there were moments where I didn’t feel that help was being given without some expectation on the giver’s part. What you mentioned about the two different formats and then the insertion of emotion…seems forced to me.

  24. June 21, 2011 9:32 pm

    Hmm. Interesting to a certain extent and possibly one I might check out if I ran across it, but not something I would specifically seek out.

  25. June 22, 2011 9:00 pm

    I enjoyed this book. I loved Denver’s voice – hearing him narrate an audio version would be a real treat. I do see some of your issues with the book and shared many of them myself – but in the end I decided to just go with the flow and accept the preachy stuff as who the people were and not judge or compare. It is a remarkable story of friendship, and I appreciated Ron’s honesty in sharing his doubts and hesitancy to befriend Denver. Glad you and your book group had an interesting discussion over it :0)


  26. June 23, 2011 9:23 am

    This was one of my fave reads last year. I know that there’s a lot of religion in it, but that’s part of who they were. There was a point in this book where I was wiping away tears to keep reading. For me, the fact that it made me FEEL pushed it to the five-star rating.

  27. June 24, 2011 10:00 pm

    I read this in 2009, and I reacted just as you stated – emotionally. It really moved me to tears, but I understand your thoughts.

  28. March 14, 2012 11:50 pm

    Ron Hall weaves a powerful story of three people whose backgrounds could not be more different and you can’t wait to see how their lives intersect. However, I found myself dreading to read the part of the book about Debbie’s diagnosis, treatment and death. Ron handles all of this and more in such a poignant way in telling the story of these amazing people. The dying process is not beautiful but the way that it was borne by Debbie and her famly is beautiful and is clearly shown in the book. It is truly a blessing to read. I hope we will hear more from Ron Hall and more about the legacy that Debbie left.

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