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I would have never, in a million years, have picked this up if it weren’t for my in-person book group. I don’t to religious books, I especially don’t do evangelical books. It’s not that I have anything against religion or even evangelicalism, it’s just that I prefer to escape when I read.
I’d love to say that I loved the book, in spite of my hesitations. But, I didn’t. I liked it. I thought the story was interesting. But I wasn’t moved by it, or even motivated by it.
It’s the story of two men: Ron Hall, who came from a lower-middle-class Texas upbringing and turned himself, by luck and the grace of God into a millionaire art dealer; and Denver Moore, the product of Jim Crow laws and a Louisiana sharecropping upbringing, who was homeless in Fort Worth when Ron and his wife Debbie first met him. Debbie insisted that Ron reach out to Denver, and it eventually turned into a friendship. One that helped Ron make it through his wife’s cancer and eventual death (yep: it’s one of those cancer books). It’s basically their witness and testimony: look what God wrought in their lives.
The most inspiring person (obviously, since it’s their story about her and because she’s passed on) is Debbie: how she took the money Ron made and put it to better use. How she got involved in her community and worked to make it a better place. But, even that wasn’t enough to salvage the book for me.
Now, I suppose this is me being all hyper-critical: just because the writing wasn’t the most elegant, just because the story was a bit cliche, should I take apart these men’s beliefs? Because I do believe that they believe they were doing good by writing this book. No. That wouldn’t be fair. I guess my fundamental problem was that I just never got what I was supposed to get out of their story. (There’s class issues here as well, I discovered: I have a problem with wealthy people throwing their money at good causes and saying “Look at me doing good! Aren’t I wonderful?” And I felt like I got a lot of that.) In the end, though, I felt like I feel in those tear-jerker movies: manipulated. And that rankled me.
That said, there is good in this book. There’s a good story. There’s redemption and forgiveness and grace. I just didn’t feel it. But maybe you will.