Nubian Circle Book Club

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The Worthy Ones Book Review

Jennifer Quash

The Worthy Ones by Charlie L. Russell was interesting.  It was filled with lyrical prose, folklore, music, black and white illustrations and old sayings of our grandparents, one of them being a favorite of mine "Believe only half of what you see. None of what you hear." 
Charlie L. Russell writes about the life of the members in the community of the Quarters in Louisiana.  The Worthy Ones is about two families, the Pettaways and the Johnsons.  These families had tries through their work, social events (baseball and dancing at the club) and religious worship at the local Baptist church and the innocence of love.  They encounter racism and the feelings of being treated unfairly by whites (nothing much has changed today) and having to bite their tongues through this degradation. 
The story revolves around four lovers who form two triangles.  Mattie, the daughter of Renaud 'Sugarbear' and Coreen Johnson and James, the son of Aaron and Sodonia Pettaway play a cat and mouse game with love.  A 'shotgun' wedding takes place after Mattie becomes pregnant.  James and Mattie continue to live in the community, but James is getting restless because of the racism and he and his friend St. Elmo start making plans to in-migrate to California and start a new life for their families.
Mattie and the children are on the train traveling to California to become reunited with James and then the book takes a strange turn.  Personally, I was at a complete loss - one page Mattie and her sons are on the train heading West and the next chapter has you somewhere in slavery times and then into the post Civil War and back to the Pettaways (Aaron and Sodonia) and their love story.   I had a hard time following he story after this twist and understanding the dramatic change in the storyline.  Maybe if the author had started the ending at the beginning I would not have been so disappointed after finally finishing it.
The Nubian Circle Book Club rating for The Worthy Ones is 2.5 out of 5 stars.  Please contact us at if you should have any questions or comments about this review.