A friend of mine said this was the best book she’d read all year. I love recommendations like that because chances are, I’ll think it’s pretty awesome, too. Ever practical, I suggested it for one of my book clubs and they picked it for November. It’s amazing the sense of responsibility you feel when a half a dozen other people are reading the book you picked out. I only knew a little bit about this book—just the little back-of-the book publisher’s description. I should really learn to do more research than that before I leap into a book suggestion…
When I first started reading Same Kind of Different as Me, I freaked out a bit. It began with a whole bunch of famous people recommending the book. Normally, in a printed, bound book, I would skip right over these, but I was reading this on my iPod, and it’s not quite so easy to skip over stuff, so I read through them. I was slightly horrified, because all the recommendations were by famous preachers and Christian leaders. I thought I’d picked a religious (Christian/proselytizing) book for a group that tries to stay away from religion and politics! Yikes. But my concerns were assuaged as I continued, because even though the characters in the book are very Christian, and born-again, the heart of the story isn’t really about Christianity. It’s about friendship.
This is a story about an unlikely friendship. It’s one of the most amazing friendship stories I’ve ever encountered. I felt this way partly because even though the friendship between Ron, a wealthy art dealer, and Denver, a homeless man, is unlikely, it became a genuine friendship, despite the skepticism of both men. And it was a friendship that helped both men in unexpected ways. This story also challenged me, because of the unbelievable kindness of some of the characters---their willingness to help others, even when those very same people had not been kind or helpful to them.
Ratings (For an explanation of my rating factors, please visit the Rating System Key page.)
Crack Factor – 8.0. This book will hold your attention.
Tears Shed Factor – !?! I’m purposely not giving a rating here, because even though I did cry several times during this book, I tend to agree with my friend, Christine, who thought that some tear-jerking parts were too intense and didn’t necessarily need to go into the depth of detail that was provided.
Distraction Factor – 9.5. This book gave me a vision of poverty and homelessness that I’d never contemplated before. And it challenged my concept and understanding of friendship and kindness.
Writing Skills Factor – 8.0. Hmm…it’s not that this book is poorly written. It’s very well written. But, having read several books recently that choose to use Black English Vernacular, I didn’t think this book executed this device particularly well. Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, does this the best way imaginable, by explaining in the beginning why she was writing that way, at the preference of the characters themselves, who want the story told as accurately as possible. This book is written from the perspective of two characters. One of them is illiterate. His chapters are written in his voice, grammar mistakes and all, but despite this, they are extremely well written and well organized for someone who never went to a day of school in his life. So it’s obvious the writer monkeyed around a lot with his words, but she still wrote them in dialect. It seemed forced to me. Perhaps it should have been 3rd person narrative...I don’t know, maybe I’m just being picky. You can’t tell me that the other narrator, Ron Hall, a life long Texan doesn’t have an accent either---why didn’t she folksy up his chapters?
Total rating: 8.5