Format: Ebook (Kindle)
Length: 105 pages
Genre: Fiction, Classic
Date of Publication: 24th July, 2007 (First published in 1973)
Rating: 4/5 stars
One of my book resolution this year is to read more of classic literature. So when I came across Binders Book Club reading Sula this month, I jumped on board. This was going to be the first time that I was reading the author and hearing how descriptive her books could be, I was glad that we picked a relatively short read for our first experience.
“Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end? Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life.“
Sula is a book that talks about the evolution of African American culture just at the cusp of abolition of the slave trade. It documents their struggles along with the rich heritage and the humor that’s embedded in their life. All of this is done through the lives of two girls- Nel and Sula who are as different from each other as chalk and cheese while also being quite similar in the way that they see the world. The book is very descriptive which made the beginning a bit arduous for me. It is divided into two parts, first describes the girls’ childhoods and second shows them as adults. I preferred Part 1 over Part 2 but that is only because of my personal preference of action over description and dialogues over monologues.
I loved how the author conveyed Sula’s indecisiveness along with her strong love for herself. She is a woman who believes in not doing something just to please others. Unfortunately for her, this is a bit too ahead of her times and she is shunned by the entire town. What I appreciated about the character is that she remained steadfast in her belief and did what she thought best until her last breath. I was awed at how the author managed to incorporate this sort of character with her best friend who is more rigid and mild in her approach. We are never made to pick one girl over the other. It was wonderful to see the development of the African American community while also reading a background story of friendship and loss that seemed to tie everything together.
It is a beautiful story of growing up in households where you feel like you don’t belong, of living in a society that places stringent rules on how you are supposed to behave and casts you out if you don’t follow its rules, of young girls realizing that life is not always about doing what feels good to you and also of discovering that you cannot please everybody. They learn to deal with men and women of differing temperaments, childhood trauma, and dark secrets. What I absolutely loved was how the author managed to create a piece of work with no judgement in it. Women with multiple partners are just described as they are. Seeing as this was written in the 1970s, it is commendable that the author felt no need to direct her readers’ moral compasses. She lets us see all points of view and make our own decision.
Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”
Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye , Song of Solomon , and Beloved , which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of “The 30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies’ Home Journal.
TL;DR: A descriptive book that is steeped with African American culture
What are some of your favourite classics?
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