Date started: August 8, 2016
Date ended: August 26, 2016
First, I want to say a huge thank you to Catherine Torres, who was extremely generous to send me a copy of Sula’s Voyage. I promised an honest review in return.
“The sea doesn’t give anything back without a reason.”
As the title suggests, Sula’s Voyage is a journey. It is a journey for self-acceptance and self-discovery. Sula is a fifteen-year-old girl who has always wondered why she looks so different from her family, who are fair skinned. She has been bullied and teased for her molasses coloring. Her parents have done nothing but love and encourage her, yet she feels stifled and alien in her own skin. The story opens with her being homeschooled because she was recently expelled from school. She also attends her father’s college courses, where she meets James, a good old boy who has secrets of his own. Sula and James connect with each other over differences and a friendship is born.
Over time, this blossoms into a romance, which is a comfortable one for they feel as if they don’t have to hide from each other, though the secrets still remain a mystery. One day, James suddenly disappears from Sula’s life with little explanation and her father’s is offered a grant to study whales in the Caribbean. Sula and her mother do not go with him and there is tension within the family for the first time. Sula and her mother head to Puerto Galera to visit her mom’s best friend. There, she finds more about herself and about a special skill most people do not have.
I don’t want to say too much and give the story away because it is a beautiful tale. The main components of the story consist of self-discovery, family, love, and self-acceptance. I think this last part was a huge component, even more so than self-discovery. People will not always accept you for who you are, but as long as you are content and happy with yourself, they have no power over you. I think Sula found confidence in herself when she discovered her gift and how special she was. Through James, I think she found a little confidence because it was someone besides her family showing her love and affection.
My one complaint with the novel is the pacing. I always complain that books are slow and under paced, but this was not the case for Sula’s Voyage, I felt like things happened too fast and weren’t explained in their entirety. I also didn’t understand Sula’s emotion sometimes, she would run and not listen and comprehend, everything was so dire to her. Maybe it’s because she is 15 and everything at that age is a catastrophe. But that was the one, I guess, two complaints I had.
Overall, Sula’s Voyage is a stunning coming-of-age story that all of us can relate too. The atmosphere of the novel makes the reader feel like they are on an exotic vacation. There is pain, sadness, and loss but to counteract that there is also love, courage, and selflessness. I would highly recommend Sula’s Voyage to readers of all ages. I learned something about myself reading this novel, I think others can benefit from it as well.