> Skip to content

Book clubs  •  23 May 2023


Notes on Her Colour book club questions

A story of motherhood, daughterhood, trauma, race, privilege, music and queerness to discuss with your book club.

In Notes on Her Colour, debut novelist Jennifer Neal lays out a reality in which the strange and surreal play out in one family's Florida home. Gabrielle has inherited her mother’s ability to change the colour of her skin, but her father insists that the secret stay within the walls of their bleached-white house. A story of motherhood, daughterhood and trauma, the book explores topics like race, privilege, music and queerness – perfect for discussing with your book club.  

Discussion points and questions

  • Why are readers and consumers of entertainment always open to a story starting in the school days of the hero?
  • At its heart, Notes on Her Colour is a story about a mother, told by her daughter. Why are we so endlessly drawn to stories exploring this dynamic?
  • Is there an environment, or a crowd in which you instinctively code-switch in your life? Does Jennifer Neal help you understand the forces that push Gabrielle, and her mother and father, to code-switch in the different spaces they enter?
  • Do you think Gabrielle’s parents, in their tight restrictions on her life, were motivated to ‘spare’ her from the racism and nastiness of life in the suburbs and beyond, or were they self-serving?
  • How important was music to the transformation of Gabrielle? Do you believe finding their passion could help young people put a stop to self-hatred and intergenerational trauma? 
  • Did music bring love to Gabrielle’s life? Or did love bring music?
  • What are your feelings about ‘genre fiction’? Did you read Notes on Her Colour as a speculative novel, queer fiction, magical realism, perhaps even suburban horror, or something else? Does the categorisation of a novel shape your reading of it in any way?
  • From Margaret Atwood’s seminal The Handmaid’s Tale to Naomi Alderman’s Women’s Prize for fiction-winning The Power (recently produced as a television series starring Toni Collette), patriarchy and coercive control are being explored from the lens of women with ‘super powers’. Are these stories changing minds and hearts?

Feature Title

Notes on Her Colour
'Gosh, what a wonder this book is. It's about race, yes of course. But it's about so much more as well. It's a tale of mothers and daughters, of Florida hurricanes and the madness of music. It's about code switching in ways that you've never considered, and about what it means to be of a place and of a people. Jennifer Neal has written a book drenched in hurt and magic, love and grief. Read it twice, because a book like this comes along rarely.' Sami Shah
Read more

More features

See all
Add these 2023 books to your TBR list for a year of great reading

Check out the most anticipated books of 2023.

Book clubs
What I Would Do to You book club questions

A stunning, thought-provoking debut to read with your book club.

Generate a husband

Generate a husband in honour of Holly Gramazio’s debut novel, The Husbands.

Georgia Harper says she ‘ruined her mum’s fantasy’

Find out why Georgia Harper’s writing routine ruined her mum’s idyllic vision of a writerly life. Plus, learn about her love for Anne Rice and her unlucky skill for attracting strangers’ stories.

Fun Fact: Sarah-Jane Collins wrote much of her debut novel in a bar

Sarah-Jane Collins shares how her background as a reporter inspired her to write her debut novel, Radiant Heat.

Gareth Brown shares how a yearning to travel inspired The Book of Doors

Plus find out why he’d choose to live in Middle Earth and main difference between him and Hugh Jackman.

How the characters from Abbey Lay’s Lead Us Not came to her in an imagined conversation

The debut author also shares the fictional character she’d most like to meet and why she loved Lemony Snicket’s writing as a child.

Ferdia Lennon shares the Plutarch passage that inspired Glorious Exploits

Plus, find out why he taught himself to memorise an entire deck of cards while researching for the novel.

How drama school inspired Chris MacDonald to write The Actor

Plus, learn about which fictional character he’d like to dine with and the musician he always turns to when singing karaoke.

Lottie Hazell shares how she came up with the idea for Piglet

Plus, the cosy fictional world she’d most like to live in.

Jessica Bull shares how she entered Jane Austen’s world while writing her debut novel

She took up a few new hobbies, including horseback riding, sewing and Georgian dance.

An interview with Ela Lee about her debut novel, Jaded

We caught up with debut author Ela Lee to learn about how she made time for writing while working full-time, her ‘big break’ into publishing and more.

Looking for more book club notes?

See all book club notes