This book took me by surprise. I really didn't know very much about it besides a rich couple came into a homeless man's life and changed it. Turns out, I was wrong.
Ron Hall grew up as a poor middle class southern white. Once out of high school, he aspired to be more. He stretched his charm to a sorority at a different college and snagged Deborah. Together they negotiated his growing financial success which included expensive cars, Ron's need to show his success, and an affair. Deborah kept him humble by insisting on sensible temporal belongings, forgiving Ron of his infidelity, and being open to God's will. Evangelical by southern statute (I'm sort of making that up. Only sort of, though), they eventually found their marriage satisfying, joyful, and particularly wonderful while in the service of the homeless of Fort Worth.
Denver Moore grew up in absolute squalor. Slavery abolished, plantation owners devised ways to keep their workers poor and ignorant while maintaining a rich lifestyle. Sharecropping. One day Denver had had enough of working harder every year yet staying in the debt of "the Man" or plantation owner. He hopped aboard a train and ended up on a collision course with Ron and Debbie Hall. Although it took 30 or so years before their paths intersected.
Debbie's greatest gift was to see a human being and love them regardless of their faults. She loved Denver immediately. Ron and Denver began an unlikely friendship that continues today. Without giving away the conflict of the book, Denver finds himself through Debbie's acceptance. The man he is was meant to be emerges as the relationship between Mr. Moore and the Halls develop. With riveting candor, Denver describes his childhood and losses, his hard veneer, his acceptance of this new relationship, and the metamorphosis from the hand reaching up for help to the hand reaching down to elevate Ron.
With equal amount of candor, Ron describes his shortcomings, infidelity, and deep love for his wife and Denver. He also shares his bitter anger toward God. Ron expresses himself beautifully but the best words of wisdom are attributed to Denver, perhaps because he has become such a strong presence whereas Ron already was.
I appreciated the honesty both men expressed in their own voices. I felt a kindred pull to other, peripheral players in this book. One who described the feeling being on holy ground as he felt the pull of spiritual works in a tragedy. Ron's quote by C.S. Lewis regarding a God who would not allow such pain to exist if it was not absolutely necessary in order to shape the person (I slaughtered that one, but that's the gist) shows tender love.
I do not feel like I am giving an adequate review of this book because the most impacting moments occur during and after a terrible life experience which I would love to wax philosophical and lay my own soul bare.
Instead I will share a quote that continued to pop into my mind as I read the ending of this book. The words are from "The Blind Side's" Leigh Anne Touhey when heralded as a saving grace to Michael Oher for saving his life.
"No," she says, "He saved mine."