The subtitle on “Same Kind of Different As Me” reads “a modern-day slave, an international art dealer and the unlikely woman who bound them together.”
And that pretty much tells you what you need to know: Ron Hall is climbing the ladder of wealth through his art-selling business, and doesn’t trust any of the homeless men who come into his Texas gallery. Denver Moore grew up sharecropping in extreme poverty in Louisiana before hopping a train west in his late twenties. He’s been homeless for nearly 30 years, drifting along in Fort Worth.
They meet through Ron’s wife, Deborah, who feels strongly that God is calling her to volunteer at a homeless shelter in their Texas hometown. Deborah has a dream that a man will change both the homeless shelter and the city, and Denver is that man.
The friendship between Ron and Denver is rocky at first — to say the least. And for the first half of the book, both men are entrenched in their own stereotypes and prejudices. I was worried the book would end up being a much-too-cleanly packaged story of a rich, slightly racist white man who suddenly changes his ways once he actually talks a black man, and then saves that man from homelessness.
But the story — thankfully — is not that cut and dried.
Their friendship is intriguing, especially as Denver begins to open up. The book alternates between both mens’ perspectives — one chapter from Denver, one from Ron — which provides much on the theme of what friendship entails. But just as Denver and Ron grow closer, tragedy strikes the family. It becomes emotional and gut-wrenching writing.
Is it a book I’d read again? Probably not. I still feel as if the morality lessons are a bit overplayed. But Denver’s story is especially compelling, and it is his character that drives much of the book, making this worth your time if you have an afternoon to spare.