SULA is the story of two women, Sula and Nel, who are childhood
friends. Raised together in The Bottom, the hillside black
community where failure seems a way of life, both girls are poor
but smart and dreaming of better lives. Sula does manage
to escape, hopping from city to city all across America for ten
When Sula returns, the conflict --- with Nel and the other women in
town --- is the heart of the book. The other women never
did understand Sula, and now with her worldly ways, they distrust
her even more. They find it difficult to forget the
strange, dark events that tend to accompany Sula.
Sula soon learns that Nel has settled down with her husband and
children, and found a way of life in The Bottom that suits
her. The women find that while they no longer really
understand each other, neither are they willing to give up on their
friendship. It is this quality that ultimately damages
both of them.
Morrison's writing in SULA is emotional, dark and
clear. The novel is filled with immense
tragedy and memorable characters. Morrison's ability to
be specific while describing the universal aspects of small town
life, the often catty women it tends to foster, and a friendship
struggling to survive in this environment is what makes her both
profound and accessible.
Reviewed by Liz Keuffer on January 23, 2011