The Sum of His Worth

Written by Ron Argo
Review by Joanna Urquhart

Ron Argo’s latest novel, The Sum of His Worth, is an unusual and highly charged combination of social fiction and coming-of-age story. It stars a young man named Sonny Poe, whose ordinary teenage preoccupations are complicated by the fact that his small hometown – Woodstock, Alabama in the 1960s – is a stronghold of the KKK and a boiling cauldron of both racism and nascent activism.

Sonny is taken under the tutelage of a passionate racially-crusading doctor, and the bulk of the novel follows them as they encounter all the violence and hatred their racist townsfolk can throw at them.

Argo does an excellent job humanizing his characters and bringing all the tensions of the era vividly to life – while simultaneously giving readers a very affecting portrait of young Sonny’s high-school years. Argo doesn’t flinch from the raw nature of his subject matter, and his skillful narration makes this a visceral, memorable novel.