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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  71,472 ratings  ·  4,418 reviews
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 reje
Paperback, 174 pages
Published April 5th 2002 by Plume Books (first published 1973)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  71,472 ratings  ·  4,418 reviews

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Emily May
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2018
Because each had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they had set about creating something else to be.

4 1/2 stars. I have known for some time that I haven't read enough Toni Morrison. Before Sula, I had only read Beloved, which is also a great book. Reading this, I can't understand what took me so long to pick up another.

Toni Morrison's writing is frank and uncompromising. She creates characters who burn with
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pagehabit
looking for great books to read during black history month...and the other eleven months? i'm going to float some of my favorites throughout the month, and i hope they will find new readers!

thanks for this book.

Because each had discovered years before that they were neither white nor male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they had set about creating something else to be.

this one gets 4 "please don't hit me again, sula!" stars.

and honestly, for more than half of it, it was
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Then summer came. A summer limp with the weight of blossoming things. Heavy sunflowers weeping over fences; iris curling and browning at the edges far away from their purple hearts; ears of corn letting their auburn hair wind down to their stalks. And the boys. The beautiful, beautiful boys who dotted the landscape like jewels, split the air with their shouts in the field, and thickened the river with their shining wet backs. Even their footsteps left a smell of smoke behind."- Toni Morrison, S ...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

In the hills above the valley town of Medallion, Ohio is a small neighborhood known as the Bottom where black residents form a tight-knit community. They are united in their understanding of discrimination and their experience with racial oppression. The Bottom is home to Nel Wright and Sula Peace, two girls whose friendship is solidified by the burden of a horrendous secret. Once grown, they remain guardian
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This unerring writer has been the only one to get all 5 star reviews from me so far (for "Beloved," "The Bluest Eye," & this); all of her books have that same wondrous quality. What can be said about our most cherished writer that hasn't already been said? It is really hard to come up with a favorite novel ("Beloved" for its twinges of Goth? "Eye" for its incessant play with tenderness and cruelty? Or this, for its inspiring mix of grief from [the ultraheavy psychological effects of] "Eye" & the ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it liked it
all these new editions of morrison’s books have the same author photo on the back. and it’s been causing problems. check it out:

despite that weird author hand placement thing, i've been kinda seriously obsessing over all these pictures of morrison's huge lion's head, piercing eyes, and silver dreads... and as i plow through her body of work i stare at her face for some external indication of all the furious demented & psychotic shit she flings at us. by all appearances she's a lovely woman. & i
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Short and tinged with sadness, Sula charts the rise and fall of a friendship between two Black women living in a conservative Midwestern town. The story follows extroverted Sula and quiet Nel as the pair of girls grow up in radically different households but nevertheless form an intense bond with one another that they sustain over the years, only for it to collapse dramatically when Sula betrays Nel’s trust on a whim, leading to disaster for all. Meanwhile, the writer vividly contrasts images an ...more
Violet wells
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the first time I’ve ever struggled to review a book I’ve read. Perhaps this relentless English rain is getting to me and addling my brain? Not that Sula was in any way bad. Just that I find my response to it is as mysterious as the book itself. I could say it’s been a while since I read Toni Morrison and my first response was excitement at the reminder of how stunningly she can write a sentence – “Grass stood blade by blade, shocked into separateness by an ice that held for days”. I coul ...more
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel
Hell ain't things lasting forever. Hell is change.

It is time for change; slowly, painfully, but inexorably the spirit of the age sheds old rags and dons a new garb. The mutes are beginning to discover a voice that had been trapped in their windpipes; eyes see things that they had hitherto only watched; and hearts ache with a new throb of hope mixed with fear of which no one can tell which is greater. From this sense of foreboding out comes Sula.

The excluded community confined up in the hills out
She had no center, no speck around which to grow.

I can't start to explain this book or the feeling I get each time a new chapter (numbered according to years) gives me the anxious expectation similar to unwrapping a piece of chocolate from the box of assortments - you never know what you'll get.

I can't accurately explain why this fluidity of language, this mixture of elegant vernacular, this exhilarating and encompassing flow of words forms trails down my spine and envelops me into a warm c
Whitney Atkinson
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I wish I would've read this book for class or with a group because I felt like I was reading a story with a lot of points on a map that didn't quite connect for me. I loved the storyline of the two characters this rotated around, but the book also focused on the town at large, and those bits got lost on me. I found I wasn't quite sure what this was trying to do, and I get really easily frustrated with myself when that happens and it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth that I wasn't smart enough ...more
Glenn Sumi
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-winners
Toni Morrison’s novels - allusive, poetic, with plots that are carefully, artfully constructed - take work. You can’t read them casually. But they also offer up rich rewards to those with patience.

Sula, her second novel (published in 1973), tells the story of two girls who grow up in the 1920s in a Black hillside community called the Bottom in the small town of Medallion, Ohio.

Nel Wright, as her name implies, does everything right, including get married to a nice Black man and raise children; S
Raul Bimenyimana
Loved every sentence of this re-read. I remember the first time I read Sula, I went in expecting an innocent and charming story about friendship from the small talk I had heard of the book. Nothing had prepared me for the complexity in the relationship between Sula and Nel, nothing had prepared me for the force that was Sula. I remember how my feelings towards Sula were, at first fascination, then shock, then almost-loathing, later understanding and loving, and finally missing her when all was d ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The cover flap of Sula describes it as a novel about a friendship between two women. The friendship between Sula and Nel, (starting when they are young girls) is the center of this intense novel, but there are so many other intertwined layers. Morrison has created a portrait of several strong women who survive, with no help from men, in a Black Ohio neighborhood from 1919 to 1965. The men are mostly weak, philandering, drunk or mentally ill.

Each chapter is an eloquent masterpiece, encapsulating
Imagine writing a Black feminist novel that precedes the release of seminal Black feminist texts like Black Macho & the Myth of the Superwoman (1978), Aint I a Woman (1981), & Women, Race & Class (1981), among others. Toni Morrison did just that in 1973 with the release of her stellar second novel, Sula.

Although this novel is called Sula, I wouldn't have been surprised if this novel was called the Bottom, which is the neighborhood in the fictional city of Medallion, Ohio that the story takes pla
¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪
“When you gone to get married? You need to have some babies. It’ll settle you.'
'I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.”


I found Toni Morrison to be one of the most consistent authors I ever read. And, with her being one of my favourite writers of all time, this means I found all her books I read to this day extremely interesting and deeply touching. Not only she was consistent with her style, but also with her themes, characters, and general tone of her stories. Toni spoke abo
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20-ce, us, fiction
This is a wholly black novel. There isn’t a single white character developed here, not even the mention of a white name. No white character so much as utters a word. After reading so many novels, this seems just and equitable, even commensurate. Morrison has a beautiful idiosyncratic American voice unlike anyone else’s. She’s inimitable.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Toni Morrison is the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas, the flea's eyebrows, the canary's tusks, the eel's ankle, the snake's hip, and the mutt's nuts. ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Toni Morrison has always been one of my favorite writers, and I mourned her recent passing. Sula is not her greatest work (that, in my opinion, would be Beloved), but it is a wonderful story of growing up as a black woman and compares two life choices: be the obedient (occasionally battered wife) or become the vamp. Sula chooses the latter while Nel, her best friend chooses the former. After a tragic incident by the river, the two women's lives diverge and we see the Bottom transform over time f ...more
Barry Pierce
I always thought of Toni Morrison as one of those writers that your mother reads. Y'know, somewhere in the realms of Danielle Steel. How wrong was I eh? For something so short, the breadth of time and story is remarkable. I loved the dichotomous friendship of Nel and Sula and its eventual result. This novel is surprisingly disgusting as well, like Bret Easton Ellis disturbing. I like twisted tales though and I definitely like Morrison. More like this please! ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it

'The Bottom' is a community of black families in the hills above the valley city of Medallion, Ohio where white families live.

The story begins in the early 1920's - just after the end of WWI - and traumatized soldiers are returning to town. The main characters in the story are Nel and Sula, who bond as young schoolgirls in 'The Bottom.'

Nel is the only child of a repressed mother determined to control every aspect of Nel's life.....

…..while Sula grows up in a rather raucous extended family. This
Edward Lorn
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sula is very nearly a horror novel. We're not talking serial killers or unstoppable monstrosities, but raw human horror, the kind of horror of which I wish there was more. Toni Morrison might cringe to think anyone would consider her work in the same breath as horror fiction, but there are quite a few disturbing scenes, ones that I will not spoil or even allude to in this review. I want you to experience them for yourselves. Needless to say, I was shocked by the brutality, and pleasantly surpris ...more
Spencer Orey
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lovely, insightful, and biting writing, with a few parts that felt manipulatively cruel (the one that got to me was an absolutely unnecessary killing of a young boy). Morrison was an incredible talent and is much missed.
Deacon Tom F
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars

I love Toni Morrison books and this one, “Sula” was exceptional like most of the others I’ve read.

Typical of most of Toni Morrison’s books, the writing was outstanding in every way. Descriptions were so clear and so vibrant that one could taste flavors and feel the emotions. That is Toni Morrison at her best!

Pacing was outstanding. It started quickly, although I will admit, I got a little bit lost in the middle but it finished very strongly.

Part of why I love Morrison is that she doe
Toni Morrison, one of my top three favorite authors, passed away in August of this year. She was 88 years old. She had won the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and wrote eleven novels. I have read them all. Now I am rereading: The Bluest Eye, her first novel, earlier this year and now Sula, her second.

I first read Sula in 2001. It was September of that momentous year of the terrorist attacks, from which America and the entire world is still reverberating. For me, that was a moment that announc
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm grateful to Rowena for inviting me to join The Year of Reading Toni Morrison group which spurred me to read this now. It's one of Toni Morrison's shorter works, and in her brief introduction to this edition, she notes its uniqueness in having a friendly, comfortable opening to orient the outsider (possibly white) reader.
Ignor[ing] the gentle welcome [would] put the reader into immediate confrontation with his wounded mind ['the emotional luggage one carries into the black-topic text']. It wo
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread (I first read this in the late ‘80s.)

In an essay in The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, Morrison explains and discounts the first few pages of this book, the prologue, a “door” she calls it, something she hadn’t used in her first novel and wouldn’t in subsequent novels.

As with The Bluest Eye, more questions come to mind after reading than do answers. (That’s a good thing.) Has Sula been shaped by the actions of her mother, Hannah? Of her grandmother, Eva
Jessica Woodbury
I listened to the audiobook of this and I have to say that having Toni Morrison read to me each day made something shift inside me. It was kind of like having a little guardian angel in my ear. Many have complained about her reading style. She doesn't read like most professional readers do. Her voice ebbs and flows, often ignoring punctuation. But to me, her voice moved like a river, speaking to something deep inside me, a sweet rumble, a purr. I couldn't get enough of it.

I hadn't read this book
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read Toni Morrison in high school (?) but I clearly need to go back and read everything. It's so clear to me now, how many writers are trying to be Toni. Every word matters, every character is flawed and human, and this is a five-star read.

And this is my last book for the 2018 reading challenge from The Reading Women - under the category of Nobel Prize Winner.
Tori (InToriLex)
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex

When I first read this in high school, I loved it but I didn't have the life experience to understand it, that I do now. This book connects with me, because the culture is familiar. Growing up in a black family,  knowing how burdensome and destructive racism is, this broke my heart all over again. The story focuses on Nel and Sula, two best friends who lose each other and have to deal with the after. Friendship between women, is an undervalued part of t
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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 k

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