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Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this 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 unfortunate betrayal - or ...
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Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this 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 unfortunate betrayal - or does it end?
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Extravagantly beautiful. . . . Enormously, achingly alive. . . . A howl of love and rage, playful and funny as well as hard and bitter.” —The New York Times

“Exemplary. . . . The essential mysteries of death and sex, friendship and poverty are expressed with rare economy.” —Newsweek

“In characters like Sula, Toni Morrison’s originality and power emerge.” —The Nation

“Enchanting. . . . Powerful.” —Chicago Daily News

“Toni Morrison is not just an important contemporary novelist but a major figure in our national literature.” —The New York Review of Books

Sula is one of the most beautifully written, sustained works of fiction I have read in some time. . . . [Morrison] is a major talent.” —Elliot Anderson, Chicago Tribune

“As mournful as a spiritual and as angry as a clenched fist . . . written in language so pure and resonant that it makes you ache.” —Playboy

“In the first ranks of our living novelists.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Toni Morrison’s gifts are rare: the re-creation of the black experience in America with both artistry and authenticity.” —Library Journal

“Should be read and passed around by book-lovers everywhere.” —Los Angeles Free Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452283862
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/5/2002
  • Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University. She has written seven novels, and has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.


Toni Morrison has been called "black America's best novelist," and her incredible string of imaginative contemporary classics would suggest that she is actually one of America's best novelists regardless of race. Be that as it may, it is indeed difficult to disconnect Morrison's work from racial issues, as they lie at the heart of her most enduring novels.

Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, a milieu Jet magazine described as "mixed and sometimes hostile," Morrison experienced racism firsthand. (When she was still a toddler, her home was set on fire with her family inside.) Yet, her father instilled in her a great sense of dignity, a cultural pride that would permeate her writing. She distinguished herself in school, graduating from Howard and Cornell Universities with bachelor's and master's degrees in English; in addition to her career as a writer, she has taught at several colleges and universities, lectured widely, and worked in publishing.

Morrison made her literary debut in 1970 with The Bluest Eye, the story of a lonely 11-year-old black girl who prays that God will turn her eyes blue, in the naïve belief that this transformation will change her miserable life. As the tale unfolds, her life does change, but in ways almost too tragic and devastating to contemplate. On its publication, the book received mixed reviews; but John Leonard of The New York Times recognized the brilliance of Morrison's writing, describing her prose as " precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry."

Over time, Morrison's talent became self-evident, and her reputation grew with each successive book. Her second novel, Sula, was nominated for a National Book Award; her third, 1977's Song of Solomon, established her as a true literary force. Shot through with the mythology and African-American folklore that informed Morrison's childhood in Ohio, this contemporary folktale is notable for its blending of supernatural and realistic elements. It was reviewed rapturously and went on win a National Book Critics Circle Award.

The culmination of Morrison's storytelling skills, and the book most often considered her masterpiece, is Beloved. Published in 1987 and inspired by an incident from history, this post-Civil War ghost story tells the story of Sethe, a former runaway slave who murdered her baby daughter rather than condemn her to a life of slavery. Now, 18 years later, Sethe and her family are haunted by the spirit of the dead child. Heartbreaking and harrowing, Beloved grapples with mythic themes of love and loss, family and freedom, grief and guilt, while excavating the tragic, shameful legacy of slavery. The novel so moved Morrison's literary peers that 48 of them signed an open letter published in The New York Times, demanding that she be recognized for this towering achievement. The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize; and in 2006, it was selected by The New York Times as the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years.

In addition to her extraordinary novels, Morrison has also written a play, short stories, a children's book, and copious nonfiction, including essays, reviews, and literary and social criticism. While she has made her name by addressing important African-American themes, her narrative power and epic sweep have won her a wide and diverse audience. She cannot be dismissed as a "black writer" any more than we can shoehorn Faulkner's fiction into "southern literature." Fittingly, she received the Nobel Prize in 1993; perhaps the true power of her impressive body of work is best summed up in the Swedish Academy's citation, which reads: "To Toni Morrison, who, in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Good To Know

Chloe Anthony Wofford chose to publish her first novel under the name Toni Morrison because she believed that Toni was easier to pronounce than Chloe. Morrison later regretted assuming the nom de plume.

In 1986, the first production of Morrison's sole play Dreaming Emmett was staged. The play was based on the story of Emmett Till, a black teen murdered by racists in 1955.

Morrison's prestigious status is not limited to her revered novels or her multitude of awards. She also holds a chair at Princeton University.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Chloe Anthony Wofford (real name)
      Toni Morrison
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 18, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lorain, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

Read an Excerpt

In that place, where they tore the nightshade and blackberry patches from their roots to make room for the Medallion City Golf Course, there was once a neighborhood. It stood in the hills above the valley town of Medallion and spread all the way to the river. It is called the suburbs now, but when black people lived there it was called the Bottom. One road, shaded by beeches, oaks, maples and chestnuts, connected it to the valley. The beeches are gone now, and so are the pear trees where children sat and yelled down through the blossoms to passersby. Generous funds have been allotted to level the stripped and faded buildings that clutter the road from Medallion up to the golf course. They are going to raze the Time and a Half Pool Hall, where feet in long tan shoes once pointed down from chair rungs. A steel ball will knock to dust Irene's Palace of Cosmetology, where women used to lean their heads back on sink trays and doze while Irene lathered Nu Nile into their hair. Men in khaki work clothes will pry loose the slats of Reba's Grill, where the owner cooked in her hat because she couldn't remember the ingredients without it.

There will be nothing left of the Bottom (the footbridge that crossed the river is already gone), but perhaps it is just as well, since it wasn't a town anyway: just a neighborhood where on quiet days people in valley houses could hear singing sometimes, banjos sometimes, and, if a valley man happened to have business up in those hills—collecting rent or insurance payments—he might see a dark woman in a flowered dress doing a bit of cakewalk, a bit of black bottom, a bit of "messing around" to the lively notes of a mouth organ. Her barefeet would raise the saffron dust that floated down on the coveralls and bunion-split shoes of the man breathing music in and out of his harmonica. The black people watching her would laugh and rub their knees, and it would be easy for the valley man to hear the laughter and not notice the adult pain that rested somewhere under the eyelids, somewhere under their head rags and soft felt hats, somewhere in the palm of the hand, somewhere behind the frayed lapels, somewhere in the sinew's curve, He'd have to stand in the back of Greater Saint Matthew's and let the tenor's voice dress him in silk, or touch the hands of the spoon carvers (who had not worked in eight years) and let the fingers that danced on wood kiss his skin. Otherwise the pain would escape him even though the laughter was part of the pain.

A shucking, knee-slapping, wet-eyed laughter that could even describe and explain how they came to be where they were.

A joke. A nigger joke. That was the way it got started. Not the town, of course, but that part of town where the Negroes lived, the part they called the Bottom in spite of the fact that it was up in the hills. Just a nigger joke. The kind white folks tell when the mill closes down and they're looking for a little comfort somewhere. The kind colored folks tell on themselves when the rain in doesn't come, or comes for weeks, and they're looking for a little comfort somehow.

A good white farmer promised freedom and a piece of bottom land to his slave if he would perform some very difficult chores. When the slave completed the work, he asked the farmer to keep his end of the bargain. Freedom was easy—the farmer had no objection to that. But he didn't want to give up any land. So he told the slave that he was very sorry that he had to give him valley land. He had hoped to give him a piece of the Bottom. The slave blinked and said he thought valley land was bottom land. The master said, "Oh, no! See those hills? That's bottom land, rich and fertile."

"But it's high up in the hills," said the slave.

"High up from us," said the master, "but when God looks down, it's the bottom. That's why we call it so. It's the bottom of heaven-best land there is."

So the slave pressed his master to try to get him some. He preferred it to the valley. And it was done. The nigger got the hilly land, where planting was backbreaking, where the soil slid down and washed away the seeds, and where the wind lingered all through the winter.

Which accounted for the fact that white people lived on the rich valley floor in that little river town in Ohio, and the blacks populated the hills above it, taking small consolation in the fact that every day they could literally look down on the white folks.

Still, it was lovely up in the Bottom. After the town grew and the farm land turned into a village and the village into a town and the streets of Medallion were hot and dusty with progress, those heavy trees that sheltered the shacks up in the Bottom were wonderful to see. And the hunters who went there sometimes wondered in private if maybe the white farmer was right after all. Maybe it was the bottom of heaven.

The black people would have disagreed, but they had no time to think about it. They were mightily preoccupied with earthly things-and each other, wondering even as early as 1920 what Shadrack was all about, what that little girl Sula who grew into a woman in their town was all about, and what they themselves were all about, tucked up there in the Bottom.


Except for World War II, nothing ever interfered with the celebration of National Suicide Day. It had taken place every January third since 1920, although Shadrack, its founder, was for many years the only celebrant. Blasted and permanently astonished by the events of 1917, he had returned to Medallion handsome but ravaged, and even the most fastidious people in the town sometimes caught themselves dreaming of what he must have been like a few years back before he went off to war. A young man of hardly twenty, his head full of nothing and his mouth recalling the taste of lipstick, Shadrack had found himself in December, 1917, running with his comrades across a field in France. It was his first encounter with the enemy and he didn't know whether his company was running toward them or away. For several days they had been marching, keeping close to a stream that was frozen at its edges. At one point they crossed it, and no sooner had he stepped foot on the other side than the day was adangle with shouts and explosions. Shellfire was all around him, and though he knew that this was something called it, he could not muster up the proper feeling—the feeling that would accommodate it. He expected to be terrified or exhilarated—to feel something very strong. In fact, he felt only the bite of a nail in his boot, which pierced the ball of his foot whenever he came down on it. The day was cold enough to make his breath visible, and he wondered for a moment at the purity and whiteness of his own breath among the dirty, gray explosions surrounding him. He ran, bayonet fixed, deep in the great sweep of men flying across this field. Wincing at the pain in his foot, he turned his head a little to the right and saw the face of a soldier near him fly off. Before he could register shock, the rest of the soldier's head disappeared under the inverted soup bowl of his helmet. But stubbornly, taking no direction from the brain, the body of the headless soldier ran on, with energy and grace, ignoring altogether the drip and slide of brain tissue down its back.

When Shadrack opened his eyes he was propped up in a small bed. Before him on a tray was a large tin plate divided into three triangles. In one triangle was rice, in another meat, and in the third stewed tomatoes. A small round depression held a cup of whitish liquid. Shadrack stared at the soft colors that filled these triangles: the lumpy whiteness of rice, the quivering blood tomatoes, the grayish-brown meat. All their repugnance was contained in the neat balance of the triangles—a balance that soothed him, transferred some of its equilibrium to him. Thus reassured that the white, the red and the brown would stay where they were—would not explode or burst forth from their restricted zones—he suddenly felt hungry and looked around for his hands. His glance was cautious at first, for he had to be very careful—anything could be anywhere. Then he noticed two lumps beneath the beige blanket on either side of his hips. With extreme care he lifted one arm and was relieved to find his hand attached to his wrist. He tried the other and found it also. Slowly he directed one hand toward the cup and, just as he was about to spread his fingers, they began to grow in higgledy-piggledy fashion like Jack's beanstalk all over the tray and the bed. With a shriek he closed his eyes and thrust his huge growing hands under the covers. Once out of sight they seemed to shrink back to their normal size. But the yell had brought a male nurse.

"Private? We're not going to have any trouble today, are we? Are we, Private?

Shadrack looked up at a balding man dressed in a green-cotton jacket and trousers. His hair was parted low on the right side so that some twenty or thirty yellow hairs could discreetly cover the nakedness of his head.

"Come on. Pick up that spoon. Pick it up, Private. Nobody is going to feed you forever."

Sweat slid from Shadrack's armpits down his sides. He could not bear to see his hands grow again and he was frightened of the voice in the apple-green suit.

"Pick it up, I said. There's no point to this. The nurse reached under the cover for Shadrack's wrist to pull out the monstrous hand. Shadrack jerked it back and overturned the tray. In panic he raised himself to his knees and tried to fling off and away his terrible fingers, but succeeded only in knocking the nurse into the next bed.

When they bound Shadrack into a straitjacket, he was both relieved and grateful, for his hands were at last hidden and confined to whatever size they had attained.

Laced and silent in his small bed, he tried to tie the loose cords in his mind. He wanted desperately to see his own face and connect it with the word "private"—the word the nurse (and the others who helped bind him) had called him. "Private" he thought was something secret, and he wondered why they looked at him and called him a secret. Still, if his hands behaved as they had done, what might he expect from his face? The fear and longing were too much for him, so he began to think of other things. That is, he let his mind slip into whatever cave mouths of memory it chose.

He saw a window that looked out on a river which he knew was full of fish. Someone was speaking softly just outside the door . . .

Shadrack's earlier violence had coincided with a memorandum from the hospital executive staff in reference to the distribution of patients in high-risk areas. There was clearly a demand for space. The priority or the violence earned Shadrack his release, $217 in cash, a full suit of clothes and copies of very official-looking papers.

When he stepped out of the hospital door the grounds overwhelmed him: the cropped shrubbery, the edged lawns, the undeviating walks. Shadrack looked at the cement stretches: each one leading clearheadedly to some presumably desirable destination. There were no fences, no warnings, no obstacles at all between concrete and green grass, so one could easily ignore the tidy sweep of stone and cut out in another direction—a direction of one's own.

Shadrack stood at the foot of the hospital steps watching the heads of trees tossing ruefully but harmlessly, since their trunks were rooted too deeply in the earth to threaten him. Only the walks made him uneasy. He shifted his weight, wondering how he could get to the gate without stepping on the concrete. While plotting his course—where he would have to leap, where to skirt a clump of bushes—a loud guffaw startled him. Two men were going up the steps. Then he noticed that there were many people about, and that he was just now seeing them, or else they had just materialized. They were thin slips, like paper dolls floating down the walks. Some were seated in chairs with wheels, propelled by other paper figures from behind. All seemed to be smoking, and their arms and legs curved in the breeze. A good high wind would pull them up and away and they would land perhaps among the tops of the trees.

Shadrack took the plunge. Four steps and he was on the grass heading for the gate. He kept his head down to avoid seeing the paper people swerving and bending here and there, and he lost his way. When he looked up, he was standing by a low red building separated from the main building by a covered walkway. From somewhere came a sweetish smell which reminded him of something painful. He looked around for the gate and saw that he had gone directly away from it in his complicated journey over the grass. Just to the left of the low building was a graveled driveway that appeared to lead outside the grounds. He trotted quickly to it and left, at last, a haven of more than a year, only eight days of which he fully recollected.

Once on the road, he headed west. The long stay in the hospital had left him weak—too weak to walk steadily on the gravel shoulders of the road. He shuffled, grew dizzy, stopped for breath, started again, stumbling and sweating but refusing to wipe his temples, still afraid to look at his hands. Passengers in dark, square cars shuttered their eyes at what they took to be a drunken man.

The sun was already directly over his head when he came to a town. A few blocks of shaded streets and he was already at its heart—a pretty, quietly regulated downtown.

Exhausted, his feet clotted with pain, he sat down at the curbside to take off his shoes. He closed his eyes to avoid seeing his hands and fumbled with the laces of the heavy high-topped shoes. The nurse had tied them into a double knot, the way one does for children, and Shadrack, long unaccustomed to the manipulation of intricate things, could not get them loose. Uncoordinated, his fingernails tore away at the knots. He fought a rising hysteria that was not merely anxiety to free his aching feet; his very life depended on the release of the knots. Suddenly without raising his eyelids, he began to cry. Twenty-two years old, weak, hot, frightened, not daring to acknowledge the fact that he didn't even know who or what he was . . . with no past, no language, no tribe, no source, no address book, no comb, no pencil, no clock, no pocket handkerchief, no rug, no bed, no can opener, no faded postcard, no soap, no key, no tobacco pouch, no soiled underwear and nothing nothing nothing to do . . . he was sure of one thing only: the unchecked monstrosity of his hands. He cried soundlessly at the curbside of a small Midwestern town wondering where the window was, and the river, and the soft voices just outside the door . . .

Through his tears he saw the fingers joining the laces, tentatively at first, then rapidly. The four fingers of each hand fused into the fabric, knotted themselves and zigzagged in and out of the tiny eyeholes.

By the time the police drove up, Shadrack was suffering from a blinding headache, which was not abated by the comfort he felt when the policemen pulled his hands away from what he thought was a permanent entanglement with his shoelaces. They took him to jail, booked him for vagrancy and intoxication, and locked him in a cell. Lying on a cot, Shadrack could only stare helplessly at the wall, so paralyzing was the pain in his head. He lay in this agony for a long while and then realized he was staring at the painted-over letters of a command to fuck himself. He studied the phrase as the pain in his head subsided.

Like moonlight stealing under a window shade an idea insinuated itself: his earlier desire to see his own face. He looked for a mirror; there was none. Finally, keeping his hands carefully behind his back he made his way to the toilet bowl and peeped in. The water was unevenly lit by the sun so he could make nothing out. Returning to his cot he took the blanket and covered his head, rendering the water dark enough to see his reflection. There in the toilet water he saw a grave black face. A black so definite, so unequivocal, it astonished him. He had been harboring a skittish apprehension that he was not real—that he didn't exist at all. But when the blackness greeted him with its indisputable presence, he wanted nothing more. In his joy he took the risk of letting one edge of the blanket drop and glanced at his hands. They were still. Courteously still.

Shadrack rose and returned to the cot, where he fell into the first sleep of his new life. A sleep deeper than the hospital drugs; deeper than the pits of plums, steadier than the condor's wing; more tranquil than the curve of eggs.

The sheriff looked through the bars at the young man with the matted hair. He had read through his prisoner's papers and hailed a farmer. When Shadrack awoke, the sheriff handed him back his papers and escorted him to the back of a wagon. Shadrack got in and in less than three hours he was back in Medallion, for he had been only twenty-two miles from his window, his river, and his soft voices just outside the door.

In the back of the wagon, supported by sacks of squash and hills of pumpkins, Shadrack began a struggle that was to last for twelve days, a struggle to order and focus experience. It had to do with making a place for fear as a way of controlling it. He knew the smell of death and was terrified of it, for he could not anticipate it. It was not death or dying that frightened him, but the unexpectedness of both. In sorting it all out, he hit on the notion that if one day a year were devoted to it, everybody could get it out of the way and the rest of the year would be safe and free. In this manner he instituted National Suicide Day.

On the third day of the new year, he walked through the Bottom down Carpenter's Road with a cowbell and a hangman's rope calling the people together. Telling them that this was their only chance to kill themselves or each other.

At first the people in the town were frightened; they knew Shadrack was crazy but that did not mean that he didn't have any sense or, even more important, that he had no power. His eyes were so wild, his hair so long and matted, his voice was so full of authority and thunder that he caused panic on the first, or Charter, National Suicide Day in 1920. The next one, in 1921, was less frightening but still worrisome. The people had seen him a year now in between. He lived in a shack on the riverbank that had once belonged to his grandfather long time dead. On Tuesday and Friday he sold the fish he had caught that morning, the rest of the week he was drunk, loud, obscene, funny and outrageous. But he never touched anybody, never fought, never caressed. Once the people understood the boundaries and nature of his madness, they could fit him, so to speak, into the scheme of things.

Then, on subsequent National Suicide Days, the grown people looked out from behind curtains as he rang his bell; a few stragglers increased their speed, and little children screamed and ran. The tetter heads tried goading him (although he was only four or five years older then they) but not for long, for his curses were stingingly personal.

As time went along, the people took less notice of these January thirds, or rather they thought they did, thought they had no attitudes or feelings one way or another about Shadrack's annual solitary parade. In fact they had simply stopped remarking on the holiday because they had absorbed it into their thoughts, into their language, into their lives.

Someone said to a friend, "You sure was a long time delivering that baby. How long was you in labor?"

And the friend answered, "'Bout three days. The pains started on Suicide Day and kept up till the following Sunday. Was borned on Sunday. All my boys is Sunday boys."

Some lover said to his bride-to-be, "Let's do it after New Years, 'stead of before. I get paid New Year's Eve."

And his sweetheart answered, "OK, but make sure it ain't on Suicide Day. I ain't 'bout to be listening to no cowbells whilst the weddin's going on."

Somebody's grandmother said her hens always started a laying of double yolks right after Suicide Day.

Then Reverend Deal took it up, saying the same folks who had sense enough to avoid Shadrack's call were the ones who insisted on drinking themselves to death or womanizing themselves to death. "May's well go on with Shad and save the Lamb the trouble of redemption."

Easily, quietly, Suicide Day became a part of the fabric of life up in the Bottom of Medallion, Ohio.

From the Audio Cassette (Unabridged) edition.

Copyright 1973 by Toni Morrison
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

1. What is the significance of the quote at the start of the book, "Nobody knew my rose of the world but me. . . .I had too much glory. They don't want glory like that in nobody's heart." (The Rose Tattoo) How does this set the stage for the novel.

2. The novel begins by telling the reader that the Bottom, the neighborhood above Medallion, will soon be gone, replaced by the Medallion City Golf Course. How does knowing that the Bottom will soon be gone influence the rest of the novel? How does this description imply that things are not what they appear to be on the surface?

3. What are some possible reasons Eva's decision to go downstairs and light the fire, "the smoke of which was in her hair for years"? How does this make you feel about her character? Was this an act of sacrifice or selfishness? Can Eva be described as "good" or "bad"?

4. Eva gave her children to a neighbor and returned 18 months later, minus one leg. What is the possible symbolic significance of Eva's missing leg? How does it tie into the theme of deceptive appearances in the novel?

5. Sula contains some adult language and themes. Is this book appropriate for high school students? Are African Americans portrayed in a positive or negative light in the book? What about the portrayal of white people?

6. The novel takes place over the course of 45 years. How do relations between the races change over the course of the novel? How are the inhabitants of the Bottom and Medallion changed by what's going on in the world around them?

7. One reviewer commented that Sula is "a complex story of friendship and disappointment, death and sex, desperation and vulnerability" (Gayle Sims, Knight-Ridder Newspaper). How would you characterize the novel?

8. Sula and Nel become friends and later seem to be each other's alter egos. How does Nel's decision to marry inform Sula's life? How does Sula's leaving influence Nel?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 108 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2005


    The novel Sula was very interesting and a pleasure to read. I was given the novel to read by my English teacher in the start of november. My teacher explained the concept of the novel and my first thought was that the novel would be another boring and drawn out book that the teachers love to give us. My teacher went on and on about how it would be a great read, little did I know how she was so wrong; the book was not a great read it was a new experience. Toni Morrison, the author of Sula, grabbed my attention with the first sentence in which she explained the reason behind ¿the bottom¿. Morrison unique style and characters kept me glued to the book. Morrison¿s ability to create a world of both beauty and corruption was amazing. She accomplishes what most authors, I believe, can not. She makes everything real; she shows that the world isn¿t as black and white as people portray it to be. Her characters have realistic qualities; they show that a person is never truly evil or good. Morrison¿s language is another great factor to this masterpiece of a novel. Morrison has a way of making a horrible event or action into beautiful poetic writing. This novel is not only interesting to read but a great tool for teaching. The novel introduces students to different styles of writing. It is also a great story to analyze; almost everything Morrison writes can be dissected and pulled apart to find a true meaning or idea. The novel maybe a little raunchy and surreal but it is a great book for high school students. This Novel deserves nothing less than five star rating on my scale.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2007

    To fakes who don't know good literature when they read one.

    If you're going to criticize someone's work. Do it without spelling errors. It's THEN not THAN. This book is a bit confusing since each chapter changes from the story of one person, to someone else's story. But all the characters resided in one town Bottom. Nobody in the Bottom understood Sula. She was neither shown nor given any love, nor was she taught how to express love. She was a very realistic character whom you could relate to. Confused, her inner innocence was pitying as well as sympathizing. Toni Morrison's Sula is a very realistic and powerful novel, with plenty of imagery and details for readers with a vivid imagination and true understanding of literature. I definately recomend it. :}

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2006

    Role of color in Sula

    When I began reading Sula, Morrison's seemingly overuse of color adjectives caught my eye. At first I thought she was merely a 'colorful' and descriptive writer by nature, but as the novel progressed, I realized it was done by intention. The following are examples of Morrison¿s ¿overuse¿ of color adjectives. - '...the purity and the whiteness of his own birth' (3) - '¿the lumpy whiteness of rice, the quivering blood tomatoes, the grayish-brown meat' (8) - '...that the white, the red and the brown would stay' (8) -'he was frightened of the voice in the apple-green suit¿' (9) -'he was standing by a low red building¿' (11) -'he saw a grave black face¿' (13) -'¿his eyes travel over the pale yellow woman' (20) -' the city where the red shutters glowed' (20) -'...soldiers still in their ****-colored uniforms' (21) -'...and turned for compassion to the gray eyes' (21) -' the salmon-colored face of the conductor' (21) -'¿her eyes fastened on the thick velvet collar' (23) -¿¿on the door hung a black crepe wreath with a purple ribbon' (24) -'¿a woman in a yellow dress...' (25) -'...and a canary-yellow dress¿' (25) All of these examples occur within the first twenty-five pages of the novel. Clearly, Morrison is making a point. She¿s emphasizing how significant color is in a minority's life. For me, a middle-class white male, color is not a day-to-day issue and therefore, I don't give much attention to it. When I look at objects, rarely do I concern myself with its color. This is why I enjoyed Morrison¿s novel. It exposes her readers to a sampling of what life is like in a minority's world where color is always an issue. Overall, Morrison¿s racial awareness is prevalent throughout Sula, making it a very solid and wholesome novel.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2009


    I am astonished by these negative reviews. This is the book that introduced me to Toni Morrison, decades ago, and I will be eternally grateful. Maybe these reviews are written by Oprah fans who are not use to thoughtful, challenging (although really, it's an easy read) great literature. This book is close to perfect - the characters are three dimensional, the story is original yet oddly familiar, and the ending is a revelation. I could not possibly pick a "favorite book," but if I were forced to, Sula would absolutely be a contender.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2007


    This book was without a doubt her best peice of work. I have read beloved, tar baby, jazz, and pardise but Sula captured my eye like the others could not. It is the type of book that maybe hard to understand in the start but the way she writes by the end of the story she has you thinking 'it all makes sense now' two thumbs way up to Miss.Toni Morrison

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2013


    The book talks about friendship,love,betrayal,and family. There is a place called the Bottom. African American lives there. It is a place where Two completely different girls called Sula and Nel become friends. Nel came from stable house where her mother Helen is strict on everything. She teach her daughter Nel always to be smart and have manners and to be neat which Mel finds it as a lot of pressure on her to be perfect. On the other hand, Sula comes from dysfunctional family. Her mom Hannah is know as a whore in the town Medallion. Her grandmother Eva is a determined woman who will do anything to survive. Sula grows up looking at her mom bring different men in to the house to have intimate with them. Sula and Nel are two little girls who try to run away from their family. They are two opposite maginats that attracts each other. They become best friends and start talking about boys and sexual desires . The incident that happens a little boy called Chicken Little shows their personalities. When they reach their teen years, Nel marries Jude. Sula attends the weeding and leaves the town after the wedding. She comes back after couple of years from what she calls it college. She is now an educated and classy woman. She thinks that she does not need to get marry or have children. It is emotional when SUla and Nel reunites. These two women feel incomplete without each other. The bottom people are not happy about sula's return because she is different than them. One thing SUla learns from her mother is sex is for pleasure and it should be done more frequently. therefore, Sula starts to sleep with anyone she desires(including married men) for pleasure. She later sleeps with Nel husband Jude which was the boiling point for their friendship. Sula does not do that in order to hurt her friend but to pleasure herself. These two friends use to share boyfriends when they were young so SUla thinks that it is ok to share Mel's husband too. When SUla tells Nel that she never even loves jude when Nel goes to Sula house after healing sula is sick, NEl becomes very angry and leave the house promising she will never see her again. After couple of weeks, Sula dies regretting what she does to her best friend from all the things she did. Toni Morrison challenge our imagination by telling us how Sula feels after death. Sula says dying does not hurt at all. She cannot wait to tell Nel how dying feels like.In the bottom, there is a holiday called national suicide day invented by SHadrack,town's mad man. I just reviewed the booking using the theme friendship. The book contains important theme such as love,hate,death, and friendship. I hope I did not tell you everything about the book :) enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2015

    This is the story of Nel and Sula two girls from the same place

    This is the story of Nel and Sula two girls from the same place but from different worlds. Nel's family is pretty conservative and observes social norms to a T. Sula's family is more hedonistic. Still these two girls bond together until fateful day when the girls are playing with "Chicken Little," a small boy in the neighborhood and he accidentally drowns. Sula and Nel freak and decide not to tell anyone about their involvement in the boys death. This pact bonds them in a way, but it also drives a wedge between them. They drift apart and Sula eventually leaves town. Ten years later, Sula returns with disastrous results. It wasn't my favorite Toni Morrison novel, but the story was engaging. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2015


    Toni Morrison is one of the world's best living writers. Reading her works is a learning experience every time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2015

    Sad but true

    Sad story, yet the norm in areas of poverty. The need for love , no matter the cost, no matter one's race, or in what time or place.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Quick read.

    It was a good one day read. My only complaint is with the condition of the book. The front cover was bent right down the middle. I didn't get any cooperation from the foreigner (couldn't understand her part of the time so it was repeat, repeat) I talked to on the phone & finally hung up.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    Good book


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Story of young friendship

    Story-telling flow feels like Fried Green Tomatoes. Although told as an early African American tale, Sula is truly a story of friendship during early American culture.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011


    So far, this is the best Toni Morrison book I have read. Others I have read are "Beloved" and "The Bluest Eyes". This book is a work of art. The writing is so musical it washes over you and through you and buoys you up on emotion. So beautiful it hurts. It is a rare book that can affect me so - to lift my mind from my body to leave me floating in it's lyrical beauty.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    Incredible novel

    Toni Morrison just cannot do wrong. This novel is outstanding. To be brief, the novel pivots around the two central characters, Nel Wright and Sula Peace. Without giving away any plot detail or anything, I believe the final question you will be left wondering in the end is who the "hero" or protagonist is. Morrison makes this a very difficult question to answer, and I believe she does this on purpose. The ending of the story does not offer the typical resolution one comes to expect with most literature today. I found myself asking if there was any resolution to any problem, and I really don't think there was. However, that is just one of the many things that is so fascinating about this book and Morrison's style in general. She refuses to conform to typical models of writing, and I am forever grateful for her ability to break away from the societal norm.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    A heartfelt story

    Toni Morrison's Sula took place in an all black city in the south around the 1900s. The main characters in the story were best friends, Sula Peace and Nel Wright. Sula and Nel were the totally opposite, yet they fitted hand in hand. Nel was the more responsible on that others counted on, and felt comforted by. She rarely ever showed her emotions when she was hurt and never kept grudges. Sula on the other hand couldn't hide her anger for more than a split second. Even though her and Nel were the same age, it seemed as if she was always less mature than her friend. The one time she wanted to comfort or defend Nel she ended up making the situation worse than what it was. It seemed as if they would stay the best of friends, until the day Nel got married and Sula left Bottom for 10 years. When Sula arrived everything in Bottom changed for the worse. People weren't the least bit excited upon her return. People believed her wayward acts brought the plague of dead robins over the town. The only person that was somewhat glad was Nel. When the first saw each other after ten years it wasn't one of a big reunion. They spoke as if there wasn't a ten-year gap that they didn't have to catch up on. It was because every woman in Bottom, except Nel, believed Sula would snatch their husbands from them.
    Unfortunately for Nel, Sula had done what other women feared to her, her only best friend. Nel didn't know whether or not she should live or die. The pain she experienced from the betrayal of her own "best friend" was unbelievable. The only thing that kept her moving on was her children. Sula later went on with her life being lonely, or as she put it, independent. At a point she felt as if she met the man she would possibly spend forever with. Only fate knew if she would spend her life with him and if Nel would ever have the heart to forgive Sula for causing so much pain in her life. The book Sula was a great read for me. It had such a strong message to say that people can always change at anytime. I had many likes on how the author, Toni Morrison, told the story. The way the author portrayed the message clearly throughout the whole story gave me the urge to keep reading. Even though there was some use of adult language, it showed me the anger and frustration each character was going through. I also liked how she would start on a concept and flashback to show how it came to be. It left me wondering and wanting to know what will happen next. I didn't like how the author took a long time to get to the climax of the novel, which was when Sula stole Nel's husband from her.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    Toni Morrison's Sula

    Toni Morrison's controversial novel of the life of two paradoxical girls and their struggle through friendship, personality, stereotypes and life is dramatic, touching, and thrilling. Toni Morrison strategically uses symbols to tell the story.
    This story takes place in a small black "suburb-like" city called black bottom where all of the town's people are superstious. The story's two main characters, Sula Peace and Nel Wright, are best friends. The two girls are often called "two half's of one whole" and later in the book they are realized and confronted to be the same person by Sula's grandmother Eva saying to Nel "You. Sula. What's the difference?"" (pg.168). This is important because Sula and Nel are two totally different people with two totally different personalities and values. Nel is from a well brought up home. She was raised by her Creole mother who had great morels and was very religious her mother fit the regular house wife stereotype. On the other hand Sula was raised up by her mother and grandmother in a house that had no morals. Hannah, Sula's mother, was the women in the town who enjoyed being with many men. Toni Morrison uses these two characters as a way to express the message that the way you are raised is life altering. Sure enough she expressed it well because the two girls grew up to be what they were raised around. Through the story the girls struggle to fight stereotype through a series of unfortunate events and soul damaging lies, facts, and serious accusations.
    I felt this book was very interesting if you like drama. The main character Sula Peace and her family are the most dramatic people in this book. All of the peace women are known to be Manish "with exception of boy boy, those peace women loved all men." This brought a lot of drama to black bottom".
    Toni Morrison uses a lot of symbols and motifs to get her point across almost everything in the book is symbolic. This kind of lost me but when I searched the meaning to get an understanding of it, I then realized how brilliant the sentence was. Specifically, on major theme was change that she symbolized through the community, but it is only shown In the first chapter and in the last two chapters, this was very confusing because I felt as if the story was scattered away from the theme most of the time. At times it was hard to stay focused because she was so long winded while describing things but it was all for the good because it helped me visualized the scene in my head. Toni Morrison's descriptions were so good that at times her characters mad me so mad, sad and happy.
    Ex. Eva Peace was a very crazy. She felt that her son was being deteriorated by drugs so she took matters into her own hands. "Eva sat in plums room rocking him.he awoke and told her to got to bed..she poured kerosene on his body and lit a match."(pgs.47-49)
    I feel this is an over all great book.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    A literary review of "Sula", by Toni Morrison

    This is, to put it simply, an unforgettable novel. The two main characters are Sula and Nel. Nel lives a middle class existence, domineered by her proper Creole mother, Helene. Sula grows up poor,
    in an enormous house with her scandalous mother, scheming grandmother, and various boarders. The two girls begin an unlikely friendship, though ultimately, they take different paths. Sula is a complx character. She is a sexual creature, an educated woman, a daring rebel. Nel is the exact opposite. She stays in Bottom, raises her children alone, and does what she is expected to do. I loved this novel because of its sensitivity, and its raw, unabashedly souful portrayal of not just the African-American experience, but what it means to be an African-American woman. Toni Morrison's characters are brought to life with lyrical prose. The reader feels as though the characters are real, breathing, feeling people. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys excellent literature.

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  • Posted August 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book!

    Now on the list of favorites for me! This was just one in several books Ive read in my fascination to know and understand black history and the differences in cultures in one nation. What a great journey its been,
    If anyone struggles to understand the reasons behind the characters actions I would suggest further reading and studies. Sulas lack of recieving and ability to Love is at the core of allot of her actions as the previous reviewer suggested.

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  • Posted November 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    Usually like Oprah's recommendations. This is the only one I can say that I really felt was trash. This is a story about a self aborbed, apathetic, amoral child who grows into adulthood. She returns to her poor beginnings to cheat with her best friend's husband, to disrespect her mother, and to never evolve into a contributing member of society. She is so unlikeable that the reader can never feel the empathy the writer wants to evoke at the end. I read the book through because it was so short, but left it in the hotel room because it was so bad, I wouldn't even give it to the library. What was Oprah thinking? If you want a book about a disfunctional family, and what they go through to overcome their situation (which was never the outcome in SULA) then read "The Corrections", also an Oprah recomendation.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2007


    i was highly disappointed with this boook. i thought it was going to be wonderful with all the outstanding reviews, but it didnt have a plot and was hard to follow. i dont reccomend it to anyone.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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