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Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: Ron Hall and Denver Moore's Same Kind of Different As Me

If you've been watching the news you might have noticed there is a lot of racial issues taking front and center of our attention right now. Same Kind of Different As Me seemed like a suiting book to pick up to explore this issue from other perspectives including, Denver Moore who grew up after slavery was banished but still in the struggles of being black in the south, and Ron Hall who grew up in a culture that was comfortably racist.

Summary: Denver Moore was raised on a southern style Plantation, and while slavery wasn't legal, his living was very much reminiscent of the time when it was. Kept from getting an education and raised only to work on the plantations he didn't have much awareness of a life outside of that until he ran away to the west coast. Ron was an art dealer who dealt with businessmen and the rich, but when his wife, Deborah, feels called to begin serving the homeless he begins to help his wife with her endeavors. This leads to two very different people crossing paths and forming an unexpected friendship that would serve through the good and bad.


It's hard to imagine that up through the 60's and even a bit beyond, people's existence still consisted of being manipulated and doing work that still put them in the bonds of slavery. The same still happens nowadays, but that is another discussion. Denver Moore though didn't have anything to run away to when he did run to California.

Ron Hall was also in a difficult situation. With his marriage still in recovery from a betrayal he committed, he did want to take the steps to improve as a partner to his wife. It's hard to believe all the little pieces of bad that would live up to a meeting that both people would need and find in their life.

I couldn't help but think though at first reading this book, "what would I think of this book if I was a different race?" Some might say that answer could easily be answered by Denver. I'm not sure he ever acknowledges seeing his life on the plantation as the same tragedy as Ron did, which is interesting. I'm sure Denver doesn't condone that lifestyle he was forced in, but also Ron seemed to take it a lot more tragically.

I also couldn't help but gather this undertone of Denver being played up to be this persona that just didn't feel real. Ron is this guy who has made deep mistakes, has a wife suffering from cancer,and hasn't ever taken time out to really step away from the lavish lifestyle he has created. Denver and Ron both learn from each other, but I couldn't help there was something very cut out and cardboard about Denver. He is a real person, but from the book I just wasn't feeling that. Also, I understand that accenting a character's language gives them more personality,like in Denver's case, but Ron is from Texas, so why wasn't his writing also abbreviated and accented to represent the tone we imagine him speaking in?

The other gigantic glaring issues with the book, that I almost forgot because it's only a couple of paragraphs. Near the beginning Ron is outed having an affair. His wife of course is upset, and while I do see her response as very humble, I felt it was also oddly sad. Deborah call Ron's mistress, and apologizes to her and says that it's her fault for not being a good wife that he cheated with her. She indicates she will be a better wife in the future so he feels he doesn't have to do this. I understand this maybe didn't take the weight of Ron in his guilt of what he did, but what if Ron had been a different man and took advantage of this response? Did Deborah truly felt the mistress had no responsibility in this? I'm not saying it was a bad response, but one I think should have at least been kept private without being vocalized in the book.

I don't know if this book has much appeal outside of a person who is white reading it, and learning that as whites we shouldn't make generalizations and judgments about someone without knowing their background. I'm not really sure what another race would get out of this book except you can be friends with whites? It's a sweet story though and it will make you tear up. It doesn't hide the harsh reality of faith, and that it doesn't conceal you from tragedies, but I walked away not knowing quite what to learn from it. Perhaps, it's for an older audience and not as much the younger generations who are now looking at the same and different issues within a culture that is still broken.

This book was provided by Book Look Bloggers in exchange for a review.
The photos are from freeimages.com.

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