Book Review – Sula

by Toni Morrison

Started: 1st November 2014

Finished: 2nd November 2014

Another book read for my uni course! I have never really heard of the book or the author before, however going onto GoodReads I saw that Morrison was praised for her writing style. Some comments made me understand why this book was possibly put on my reading list.

Sula is a novella showing the lives of Nel and Sula – two, young, black girls living in ‘Bottom.’ Despite both being raised in the same place, they couldn’t be more different and form a strong friendship. When they are children, there are many similarities between them but at the same time there are subtle differences where you can tell who they become when they grow up. Ten years after Nel’s wedding, Sula returns and not many people are pleased to see her… In fact, most of the people in town fear her and her ‘evil’.

As this book barely makes 150 pages, there aren’t a great deal of developed characters in it. Of course, the main focus is on Nel and Sula. Despite being the titular character, Sula often takes a back seat (mainly in the first part) to Nel. I really liked Nel and felt for her with what she had to endure. You see the way that her mother moulds her, and even though she has small moments of rebellion – ultimately she can’t escape what her mother wants her to be. Sula, on the other hand, grows up to be very much like her mother but to me, not as likeable. It was interesting to see how she developed from childhood to adulthood (especially with some of the things she was exposed to as a child) but as a character I didn’t like her very much. Another character I didn’t like was Eva, I think that was mainly to do with the fact I didn’t understand her motivation to do some of the things she did.

The novella is split into two parts, part one is when the girls and children and part two is when they’ve grown up. For some reason I preferred part one to part two. I’m not entirely sure why but I just liked how it was setting up the story. It captured my attention with the amount of drama that happened to the girls at such a young age too. There were some truly horrific things that happened in the first part, which made the second part a little dull. Not completely, but it didn’t feel like as much happened. I also liked the fact that each chapter was a different year. This way it was easy to keep up with the girls age and it set a really good pace of the novel. I found that it was a good way to get a lot out of the novel length too, but in a way that it was easy to keep up with and not confusing.

I enjoyed this book more than I was expecting to, but at the same time it isn’t the best book on the module. I did like Morrison’s writing and found some of her characters engaging, so I may possibly pick up another book of hers in the future.

Rating: 3/5

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