COLORFUL

In Japanese author Mori’s U.S. debut, a dead soul has forgotten his mortal existence and is drifting toward oblivion when an angel named Prapura appears in his path. Though the soul committed a “grave error” during his time on Earth that would normally trigger his removal from the cycle of rebirth, Prapura’s boss has randomly selected him for a do-over. For the next year, the soul will inhabit the body of Makoto Kobayashi—a 14-year-old who just died of an intentional overdose. (Prapura will provide information and assistance when needed, provided he’s in the mood.) If the soul makes sufficient progress, he’ll regain his own memories, and if he’s then able to acknowledge the enormity of his mistake, he’ll vacate Makoto and move on with a clean slate. At first, the newly resurrected Makoto falls into the same dark rut as his predecessor: His grades are terrible, he has no friends, and he regards his family with disdain. But when Makoto’s parents and older brother open up to him about their own struggles and admit how profoundly his suicide attempt affected them, his conception of the world begins to change. Naoki Prize winner Mori tackles a fraught topic with empathy, humor, and grace. The soul’s wry narration keeps the tone light while the simple yet powerful plot beautifully illustrates the impact that perspective can have on one’s mental health.

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