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True Colors is a new and spellbinding middle grade novel about a girl whose emotions manifest in a colorful haze. Kirkus Reviews calls the book “(I)ntriguing… an absorbing treatise on living fully and truthfully.” Author Abby Cooper reveals why she wrote the book in this informative Q&A!

What was the inspiration behind True Colors?

During COVID lockdown, when everyone was making sourdough bread and creating TikTok accounts, I was on the couch, depressed for what I considered “no reason.” My loved ones were healthy and safe. That fact alone should have been more than enough for at least two awkward dances! Writing True Colors was my way of reminding myself that just because you’re grateful for a good life doesn’t mean you can’t also feel sad sometimes. I think young readers need that reminder too. It is truly okay not to be okay. And if you’re not okay, you’re not the only one. 

What do you hope young readers take away from your novel?

I think there is so much pressure on young readers to appear happy and positive all the time, both from social media and a culture of toxic positivity, but that’s just not realistic — nor should it be. We all experience a wide range of emotions, and not a single one is “bad” or “wrong.” I hope True Colors encourages readers to recognize that all of their feelings are valid and normal, and to be comforted in the fact that there are healthy ways to cope with the ones that are difficult. 

What do you enjoy most about writing middle grade novels? Are you working on anything new right now? 

One thing I love about middle grade readers is that while they generally recognize that magic (*probably) doesn’t actually exist, they’re still willing to suspend disbelief and come with my characters on exciting and unusual journeys. I am currently developing a story idea that, like True Colors, incorporates unique formats, important themes, and, of course, a dash of magic. 

True Colors is available for preorder now!


Turning Red meets The Giver in this novel about a town where everyone agrees to think positively—but one girl, whose emotions manifest as colors, can’t hide her true feelings.

In Serenity, Minnesota, everyone looks on the bright side, and that’s on purpose: to live in this town, people have to agree to talk positively and only focus on the good things in life. For twelve-year-old Mackenzie Werner, who has the rare gift of her emotions showing up as a colorful haze around her body, this town seems like the perfect place; she’ll never face the embarrassment of a grumbly grapefruit smog if everyone and everything is set up to be happy. But when a documentary maker comes to town and starts asking questions, Mackenzie, overwhelmed with emotion, can’t hold her haze back—and it explodes onto the whole town. Now everyone has their own haze, revealing their real feelings. As Mackenzie learns that emotions go beyond surface level, the whole town must reckon with what it means now that these true colors are on display.

“Grounding a plot reminiscent of The Giver against a contemporary backdrop, Cooper depicts Mackenzie’s bright emotions and desire to conform via a first-person POV that resounds as vibrantly as the protagonist’s rainbow glow. Insights from the documentary footage and Serenity paraphernalia add nuanced layers to this tale about idealism gone awry.” —Publishers Weekly