Sula was the Mocha Girls Read book club selection to celebrate Toni Morrison’s birthday in February. I had read excerpts from some of her other books, but this was my first time reading her cover to cover.
The novel tells the story of two black women growing up in a small Ohio town. Through lyrical prose, we are introduced to the families of the area. Nel is a quiet girl but begins to open up when she pairs up with Sula. They become inseparable and share a dark secret from childhood. But when they become adults, Sula leaves to live her life, free from expectations and some morals. Nel stays and marries, resigned to a predictable life. That is until Sula returns many years later and they pick up their friendship as if no time has passed. Sula with her wild ways seems to bring chaos into everyone’s lives. The book explores how these two women navigate adulthood, race relations, grief, and love.
For such a short book, this was certainly a rollercoaster read for me. There are spurts of unexpected violence while the book covers the lives of these two women. Morrison has a poetic way of describing this world filled with grief and hardship but also beautiful emotion. It’s a very unique book with many layers, which is likely while it won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. It has historical elements with a female melodrama at its heart told with an existential tone of wonder. The character Sula is free of guilt. If she wants to do something, she will do it despite the consequences. She lives for the sake of experience while Nel operates under a more traditional code. The ending is an interesting musing on the choices the characters had made.
If you’re looking to read more of Toni Morrison, definitely pick this up. I’d also recommend this for adult fiction fans looking to read about female friendship over an entire lifetime.