She was born somewhere in the Sulawesi Sea, on board a balangay, an ancient wooden boat, or at least, a replica of it. Her parents had built it together with some friends, with the help of an old boatmaker from Sibutu Island, to sail around the world. It explained certain things about her, like her name, Sula, but not others, like why her skin was the colour of molasses…
Fifteen-year-old Sula has always known she is different. Even though her parents have shown her nothing but love and acceptance, she sees her dark skin as a reminder of how she doesn’t fit in with the rest of her family.
What’s worse is she also feels that her parents are hiding something from her. After getting expelled from school, Sula reluctantly goes to stay with her mother’s friends. There she unexpectedly finds herself on a journey of self-discovery — a journey that keeps drawing her to the sea. Sula must not only figure our her parents’ secret, but also just how different, and possibly magical, she really is.