Cover Image: Colorful


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Member Reviews

As a lover of Japanese culture and literature, I was so happy to see this on NetGalley! It was very thought provoking and made me take a look at my life, my choices, my relationships, my mental health, and my regrets.  I think that it is enjoyable for readers even without a background of understanding Japanese culture, but it would help to look into Japanese customs.
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A dead soul is sent back to earth and revived inside the body of a teenage boy who has just committed suicide, in order to learn a life lesson that eluded it on earth. The soul is forced to live this boy's unhappy life, and it becomes a journey of self-discovery and wonder, wry and thoughtful. The narrative setup provides just the right distancing and perspective on the subject of teen suicide for young readers to enter safely and to explore an important subject indirectly. Although the novel has a definite YA flavor I enjoyed it for its sweetness, for its sincerity, and for its accurate portrayal of Japanese family life.
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Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for this ARC!  The idea of this plot-line really drew me in initially and make this book hard to put down. If lucky enough to win the lottery, a dead spirit gets another chance to live through someone else’s body for an opportunity to be reborn and have a do-over at life.  With this, we follow Makoto Kobayashi a 14-year-old who has committed suicide, but comes back to life with the soul of another person inside of him…or so we think. 

There are many underlying lessons you can take from this book — you never know what people are going through so always be kind; you never fully know someone’s story so don’t judge and make assumptions; human connections with one another are vital to well-being; and life will be hard, but you must endure.  Although this book revolves around the heavy topic of suicide, I do think all ages would benefit from reading it because it expresses so beautifully the fact that life is worth living despite the hardships and it is meant to be colorful.
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"Colorful", by Eto Mori, translated by Jocelyne Allen, and published at Counterpoint Press, tells the unforgettable story of a soul who wins the afterlife lottery, and is given a chance to return to the human world, via the body of a fourteen year old boy who has just died, committing suicide. This is referred to as a homestay, as the soul is now staying in the home of this boy, Makoto Kobayashi, with his family, while trying to remember what mistake they have committed in their past life. During the homestay, the soul learns about the boy's life and what drove him to his decisions, and tries to live life the best they can in that body, despite it being temporary.

There is so much emotion in this little story, but never in an overwhelming way, despite the heavy topics it deals with. There are sad moments, but also happy and humorous ones, much like in life itself. It all was very heartwarming, and it even brought tears to my eyes. The afterword, by the author herself, felt essential to the story, as it provides the context of what drove her to write this book, the struggles of many Japanese teens, as well as the impact her book has had on people's lives over the years. This is Eto Mori's English debut, and I truly feel privileged to have read this ahead of its arrival in the English speaking world. So far, it's definitely in my favorite reads of 2021. You really don't want to miss this one. I hope more of her books will be translated soon. 
Thank you to NetGalley and Counterpoint Press for the e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
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Colorful by Eto Mori is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late June.

Originally published in Japanese in 1998, this story is about a sardonic, doubting soul who initially goes against the advice of his spirit guide and does not want to be reincarnated back to Earth, but then uses another body for a temporary home until it's decided if he can be reincarnated anew. His spirit guide checks in now and then, filling in the gaps on his temp life of an emo, suicidal, cram-school teenager with unrequited teasey love and attraction, figuring out the mystery of his new life and that of his family, and if he truly wants to live life again. All very charming, chatty, and very much of-its-era.
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’m not at all surprised that Colorful has been hugely popular and part of the standard reading canon in Japan for 20 years. It has been adapted for film, stage, and anime; now, thanks to the skill of translator, Jocelyne Allen, American English readers have the opportunity to experience its brilliance.

The book’s beginning will remind Americans of It’s  a Wonderful Life, but it quickly becomes more like Catcher in the Rye with an adolescent who has become lost in his own darkness and is in desperate need of guidance back to the light. He is drawn with the perfect balance of gravitas and humor. The title and theme come into focus as the story progresses, culminating in a powerful scene that any filmmaker would love to portray.

Both teen and adult readers have much to gain from Eto Mori’s famous work; I am so glad that I have discovered it. Thank you to Eto Mori, Jocelyne Allen, Counterpoint Press, and NetGalley for an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review
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Why has it taken twenty years for this Japanese gem to be translated into English and made available to American readers?  Whatever the answer, this is a welcome addition to our ever-expanding selection of international literature.  Although written for teens and young adults, Eto Mori’s Colorful will appeal to older readers as well.

As the novel opens, the angel Prapura announces to a wandering formless soul that it has just won the lottery.  Rather than being eliminated from the Buddhist cycle of rebirth for a mistake made in its past life, the soul has won another chance.  It must enter the body of Makoto Kobayashi, a ninth grader who has committed suicide, and it will have undetermined time, but no more than a year, to recall its past mistake and be returned to the cycle of rebirth.  Ten minutes after being pronounced dead of an overdose, Makoto Kobayashi shocks medical personnel and his family by miraculously coming back to life.  

Life had not been easy for the old Mokoto Kobayashi, and it will not be easy for the new one. The new soul in loner Makoto’s body  has not only been revived into a family with two parents and an older brother, it has also inherited Makoto’s teachers and classmates, including Hiroko Kuwabara, the girl who broke Makoto’s heart. Provided with a background history of his family and Hiroko and occasional guided by Prapura, the angel invisible to all others, the new Makoto immediately dislikes all those around him.  After all, he’s privy to some nasty secrets about them.  With a chip on his shoulder, Makoto must somehow survive up to a year in this flawed family he sees as his temporary hosts while they believe him to be the suicidal son and brother.  

Who or what caused the old Makoto’s suicide?  How will the new Makoto deal with the dysfunctional family in which he unwillingly finds himself?  How will he face Hiroko, the idealized girl who broke his heart?  How will he deal with classmates who have bullied or ignored him from years? How will he manage the impending high school entry exams for which he hasn’t prepared and for which he sees no purpose?  Even if he is given a full year to figure out the mistake he made in his past life and win the opportunity to reenter the cycle of rebirth, he will have no more than a few months in high school before leaving Mokoto’s body forever.  What’s the point?  Will the formless soul, now a stranger in Mokoto’s body, figure out the mistake he made in his own past life so that he can be reborn rather than having his soul disintegrate and forever vanish?  What is the meaning of the book’s title?

Read award-winning Eto Mori’s Colorful to learn the answers to all these questions.  This charming book will open readers’ eyes to several Japanese social issues, but readers should also recognize several universal truths.  A modern Japanese classic, Colorful deserves a place in hearts around the world.

Thanks to NetGalley and Counterpoint Press for an advance reader copy.
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An angel named Prapura (which according to Wikipedia means rich voice in Sanskrit) offers the dead soul narrating this story an opportunity to be reborn into the body of Makoto Kobayashi, a 14-yr old suicide victim. The dead soul quite grudgingly takes on the role of miraculously revived son to the opportunistic dad and guilty conscience mom, little brother to 12th grader Mitsuru, lovestruck worshipper of Hiroka Kuwabara (8th grade fast girl), and disinterested object of fellow 7th grader Shoko Sano's adulation. 

Colorful has been a runaway success since it first came out in 1998, and I love the universal notion that "maybe every single person on this earth was just living their life under false impressions, misunderstanding other people and being misunderstood in turn" I'm sure it will appeal to American YAs as it has already to those in Japan, Canada, UK, Australia, Thailand, et al. I have to say I didn't really like the translation, or the usage of so many out of date phrases like "thrown for a loop," "too cool for school," etc; and overuse of the same word for example: "Unpleasant time for you to notice an unpleasant thing," Prapura remarked, pulling an unpleasant face. But I'm eager to share this with my 13-yr olds and hear what they make of it.
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[2 Stars]

This was interesting enough.  I liked the premise and, while I guessed it, the 'twist' at the end was pretty good.  However, I found the characterization as well as the actions taken by everyone to be quite frustrating.  I don't really like miscommunication plot lines and that was basically what the entire storyline relied on to work.  I also couldn't really jive with the sexualization + prostitution of a character who was only 15.  This is a short + fast read that has some nice messages about life and purpose.....but outside of that it doesn't really bring a lot to the table.

TW: suicide, suicide ideation, violence, assault, pedophilia, prostitution, depression, bullying.
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A recently dead soul gets a second chance at life during which he must remember his biggest mistake in his past life while living in the body of Makoto Kobayashi who recently died of suicide. This is one of those books that are difficult to talk specifically about without spoilers because of how well-crafted the overall story is. I liked the premise of this book and while I didn't especially love any of the characters, I found myself rooting for Makoto and the second chance soul in his body. I liked that the stories and interactions with the side characters were fleshed out and that there was a good sense of developing relationships. They are all deeply flawed but their flaws and more importantly, their growth make them very human.

I did feel a bit of a tonal disconnect in the sense that the dead soul's "voice" read as much older than what I would expect from a middle school student such as Makoto based on the way he reacts to the observations he makes while learning how to inhabit Makoto's body, though this could be due in part to the translation or due to the story itself.

While I wasn't surprised by the ending, I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.
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This book was heartwarming and tear jerking. It really made me think about my own life. The writing is beautiful, and the story is just stunning. I see this being a literary classic.
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“Extraordinary joy and sadness can come out of the ordinary every day."

What an unusual book. This short book is about a soul that gets a second chance and is put into the body of Makoto who has recently killed himself. This soul doesn't remember what he did in his previous life to end up here but he has to live in Makoto's life for a year to remember this own past so he can get to reincarnate into another body.

"Thinking about it, this didn’t just apply to Makoto. Maybe the world was actually filled to the brim with things it was simply too late for, things we couldn’t take back."

As he slowly starts getting to know Makoto's family and friends and life, he moves through a lot of feelings and while some parts of the book feel awkward to read I couldn't tell if that was the translation or the original writing. 

"The idea of the Kobayashi family I’d had in my head gradually began to change color. It wasn’t some simple change, like things that I thought were black were actually white. It was more like when I looked closely, things I thought were a single, uniform color were really made up of a bunch of different colors. That’s maybe the best way to describe it."

I really liked how each character in the story was complex and not what they seem at first. How each of them have layers and layers like an onion. Like real people. And how Makoto has to reconsider everything each time he uncovers another layer.

“If in the world below, you do end up wanting to curl into yourself once more, please remember this time you spent on your do-over. Remember how it felt to move freely without trapping yourself in your own expectations. And remember the people who helped you up.”

Even though I was able to guess the ending, I enjoyed every page of this unusual book and really loved the author's note at the end.

with gratitude to netgalley and Counterpoint Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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"Congratulations, you've won the lottery!" shouts the angel Prapura to a formless soul."

While most of us would be overjoyed to win a lottery-- this particular soul is not interested at all. The prize this soul has won is a second chance at remaining in the circle of life. The alternative is, essentially, obliteration from existence. Joining this soul on his second-chance journey gives the reader a different point-of-view to consider and explore. With such an interesting premise, diving in to the story is effortless and engaging right from the start.

The author skillfully brings us on a journey that can help the YA audience, well, really any age- middle grade through adult, learn more about how much alike people truly are even though we are also different. I would suggest that this book would be terrific for anyone struggling to discover their way in this world.

A copy of 'Colorful' was provided to me by Counterpoint Press /Net Galley for an honest review.
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3.5 stars; This book is about a soul's "second chance" on Earth, where they are assigned to a temporary host body to prove that they deserve to be reincarnated.  The protagonist is placed into the body of a 14-year-old boy who is in the hospital having just died by suicide.  He is given a guide in the form of a slightly snarky angel and left to fend for himself with a family he knows nothing about.  

I expected the book to be written for a slightly higher grade level, so wasn't impressed with the prose or the character development - but it's perfectly appropriate for a middle grades novel.  It was really interesting to read a novel intended for a younger Japanese audience because many of the cultural touchpoints were very foreign to me; it was an interesting window to peep into.

I received this book free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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"Colorful" is a tale following a dead soul that wins a second chance to atone for a grave sin it committed in its past life by rebirthing in the body of a young Japanese teenage boy, Makoto, who wakes up after a failed suicide attempt. In the course of his journey, the soul learns more about the depression-filled life Makoto lived prior to his drastic decision but studies Makoto's motives, emotions, desires, and personality with a distanced third-person perspective. The soul's time here is finite, so he acts in a way that a person would in a low-stake environment without much care to how others in Makoto's life would think of him. That lends him the freedom to explore experiences and decisions that the previous Makoto would've been too timid or afraid to jump into. 

Makoto reminded me of Korean teenagers and the regimen of intense conformity and performance they go through to live up to society's unrealistic, toxic standards. I know Japan's education system is quite similar where students are constantly pitted against each other, fed with lies that their worth amounts to the test scores, college acceptance letters, and accolades they accumulate, only to realize that those standards are ever-expanding artificial constructs that push them into a meaningless rat race. Mori's afterword discusses how rampant depression, anxiety, and high suicide rates amongst Japan's teenagers served as an impetus to her writing this blockbuster novel, and the subsequent popularity of the book demonstrates just how necessary her hopeful message was to an increasingly dejected generation.

With that said, the style of writing and tone of this book wasn't it for me. I'm not sure if it was the translation, but the jokes didn't quite land, some of the dialogue sounded unnatural, and what was surely intended as moving aphorisms were reminiscent of some heavy-handed lines I read in "The Midnight Library." Although I felt for Makoto and his lack of direction, connection with others, and passion for life, he came off as bratty at times, particularly in regards to his intense and uncalled-for judgment against his parents. His anger and hatred seemed out of proportion, and the writing didn't help elucidate what hidden sources that immense animosity might have come from. Maybe it was just teenage angst? 

I wanted to love this book because of the message it stood for, and I still hope that it gets in the hands of both young and mature folks who are going through similar situations and need to hear affirming words that resonate with them.
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This is a thought provoking book. The author infuses humor in the story while writing a book that makes the reader reflect on death, mental health, and what it means to be alive.
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Twenty years after its publication in its original Japanese, 𝘊𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘧𝘶𝘭 makes its way to American bookstores this July. Written by Eto Mori and translated by Jocelyne Allen, this is a comical tale about deep subject matters. ⁣
A soul is given a second chance to live out life in the body of a teenager who attempted suicide. Along the way the soul must navigate the boy’s life based on information he believes, things he’s picked up on, or information passed on from his ethereal guide. ⁣
Soon he finds that not everything is as black and white as it seems. In fact, the world is made up of so many colors sometimes we can’t figure out which ones to use. “This world of ours is just so colorful that we can never decide on the right one, we never know which colors are real, which colors are our own.” The novel challenges you to think about life, and to examine the colors around you. ⁣
I highly recommend this tale of discovery and redemption when it hits shelves on July 20. Thank you to @netgalley and @counterpointpress for this advanced copy. ⁣
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I am a huge fan of translated literature and Colorful by Eto Mori was something I devoured in one sitting. There were so many insights on the afterlife and life in general and it changed my perspective on how life is not just black and white and that you can see how colorful it is once you look for it in the right way. Loved how the plot developed and the mystery feeling throughout the book, unraveling family secrets and character development. We need more books like this one, making us pause and think what we think we know about life.
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When a soul is given a second chance on Earth, it is because they have made a mistake during their mortal life. If they remember what that is—souls have no memory of their time on Earth—they will be put in the queue of souls awaiting rebirth. If not, they disappear. At least this is the story the angel Prapura tells our unnamed soul in Colorful: A Novel by Eto Mori.

This is a story about many things: adolescence; misunderstanding; bullying; anxiety; depression; isolation; and suicide. However, it is done with humor, understanding, and compassion. As the novelist states at the end of the book, she is reaching out to teenagers: “I chose to write about a serious subject with a comical touch…I wanted kids who liked reading and those who didn’t to have fun with it to start…and then, when they closed the book at the end, I wanted the weight on their hearts to be just a little lighter.”
Twenty years ago—when this book was first published in Japan—our author was moved by the struggles of young people in Japan (school hierarchies, bullying, suicide). These issues are universal; hence this translated version (by JoCelyn Allen).

The story centers on Makoto Kobayashi, a fourteen-year-old young man who has committed suicide. After being dead for ten minutes, he comes back to life complete with our unnamed soul. The soul has been given some guidance, and a briefing about Makoto. He enters his Homestay (the name given for the period of time the soul is in Makoto’s body). He knows that the young man had no friends and thought his family didn’t care about him. He was introspective and a fair student. What he excelled at—and what gave him solace—was his art. This is where color is used in the story drawing parallels between life and feelings. For example, towards the end of the book Makoto speculates to himself, 

“The idea of the Kobayashi family I’d had in my head gradually began to change color. It wasn’t some simple change, like things that I thought were black were actually white. It was more like when I looked closely, things that I thought were a single, uniformed color were really made up of a bunch of different colors…Depending on how you looked at it, you could see pretty much every color.”

This quote affirms the theme that we are all different. We do not need to think of ourselves—or behave—in the ways others expect us to. We also do not need to think of ourselves the way we have told ourselves we are. Messages that our young men and women need to hear. As Prapura tells Makoto, “You need to exist in this world.”

I would like to thank NetGalley and Counterpoint Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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A person who was disqualified from reincarnation cycle by something they did in their most recent life, gets a second chance to prove their worthy of reincarnation.
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