Review: Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison


Review by Alex Fairfield

Sulwe is a young girl who has trouble navigating her life since she feels like she is treated differently because her skin is “the color of midnight” and is darker than everyone else around her. The story represents cultural differences as being common challenge for many; however, also highlights the importance of having these distinctions. Due to the people and the environment around Sulwe, she wanted to “fit in”, but instead felt isolated, which meant trying to remove this dark complexion in any way possible.

The latter half of the story goes into the response of Sulwe and how she doesn’t need to have bright colored skin in order for her to be a “star.” Sulwe is a star that shines brightly in her darkness and tells her that she is unique and beautiful. Skin color is an issue that has impacted the self-esteem of many young people within their own lives as well as the entire world around them. The author does a wonderful job at mentioning her personal experiences to this issue at the end and how she was able to convince her own self of being just as important as everyone else around and having a grasp of self-worth. Lastly, I would like to conclude with a quote from Sulwe’s mother to her daughter stating “real beauty comes from your mind and your heart. It begins with how you see yourself, not how others see you.


Sulwe, by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2019, 48 pages.

Alex finished his undergrad at UMN last May in Sport Management and is currently a graduate student in the Youth Development Leadership program. Some interests of his include playing and watching sports, spending time outdoors, and traveling. He has currently been to 44 out of the 50 states (trying to get to all 50 before he graduates in May) and has had the privilege to visit 32 countries so far.

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