Something Else to Be Aug 1, 2007
Toni Morrison's second novel is a coming-of-age tale and lyric poem of black female identities, focusing on the friendship of Sula Peace and Nel Wright, and three generations of women in their respective families from 1919 through the post-World War II period. Because "They were neither white nor male," they "set about creating something else to be." Both live in "The Bottom," and place itself functions as both character and choral voice to express the town's views of sex, madness, and suicide. The novel opens with a darkly ironic naming story of The Bottom, and ends with its collapse. While Nel reverts to a more traditional domesticity, Sula is determined to forge an autonomous self in the face of a condemnatory community and leaves The Bottom for a decade. In its examination of classic themes of good and evil, the novel forces the reader to revise his or her perspective of the two main characters. it concludes on a cry of sorrow and loss, but in a way that may surprise the reader. Morrison's prose sings and the novel is peopled with unforgettable characters like Eva Peace, Shadrack, the deweys, Plum and the eponymous protagonist. While this book lacks Song of Solomon's epic scope, it's possible the Nobel Prize-winning author never wrote more beautifully.