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Book Review: “Sula” by Toni Morrison

By Emma Bozenda

Sula, first published in 1973, is the second book by Nobel-prize winning author, Toni Morrison. Defined by its grit, impactful language, and exploration of family and friendship, Sula is a powerful work of American literature. The story primarily takes place in the Bottom, a small community tucked away in the hills above Medallion, Ohio. Framed by traumatized World War I veteran Shadrack’s invention of National Suicide Day, the narrative follows the lives of Sula Peace and Nel Wright from childhood friends into adulthood. Sula explores the complexities of race and gender relations in the United States from 1920-1965. Morrison’s novel nods at changing politics and while painting bold realities of being a person of color in the United States.

A feminist novel, Sula functions to establish women as powerful characters and grants them enough agency to make both conscious and impactful decisions. Sula, a black woman, is antagonized by all, yet remains an influential and remarkable figure in the Bottom. Morrison creates characters that are wholly realistic, but are also vitally innovative and fresh.Sula is shameless and impressive. With a fascinating plot, forceful language, and gripping array of characters, Sula merits itself on its ability to fully capture the attention of the reader. Most of all, the power of Sula stems from its capacity to drive readers to both think about and question their own relationships. Highly educational and purposeful, Sula should be read by those who want to learn more about 20th century American history and widen their world perspective.

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