This rich and moving novel traces the lives of two black heroines from their close-knit childhood in a small Ohio town, through their sharply divergent paths of womanhood, to their ultimate confrontation and reconciliation.
Nel Wright has chosen to stay in the place where she was born, to marry, raise a family, and become a pillar of the black community. Sula Peace has rejected the life Nel has embraced, escaping to college, and submerging herself in city life. When she returns to her roots, it is as a rebel and a wanton seductress. Eventually, both women must face the consequences of their choices. Together, they create an unforgettable portrait of what it means and costs to be a black woman in America.
I don’t think the summary does this book justice. I didn’t read a single thing about this book before reading it (as I have been doing with many other books recently) and I liked coming to my own conclusions about it. I have seen interviews of Toni Morrison and read excerpts of her work, so I knew this novel would be something I might enjoy.
The book is set in Ohio (I had to look that up because I actually thought it was somewhere like Alabama) but the characters sometimes take trips to Kentucky and Tennessee (the latter being where I grew up) so I really enjoyed the scenery and the descriptions of the small town community because I could really envision it and feel as though I were living there, too.
Although the book is called Sula, we don’t see her character appear for a while, and she certainly didn’t feel like the main character most of the time. I really love the way Morrison invented the characters and the space in which they lived, because all of them had a clear backstory and their motives and fears were all clear to the reader.
This book is a classic and it’s full of metaphors and spidery language, but I still felt it was accessible and relatable. So many things that happen in this book are shocking and sometimes terrifying but the main thing I loved about it was that everyone seemed human and I was able to empathize with every single one of the characters.
I don’t want to give too much more away, but I encourage you to read this or any of Toni Morrison’s books. They are bound to give you something to think about and ponder over long after you’ve finished.