Title: The Astonishing Color of After
Author: Emily C.R. Pan
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group)
Date published: March 20, 2018
A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
– My Review –
Before diving into my review for this book, I just wanted to let you all know that I will be reviewing the ARC that I received from the publisher, as well as the final audiobook version! I wasn’t originally going to get the audiobook, but due to the difficulty I was having with reading about the subjects of suicide, death in general, and grief (and also due to my busy schedule) I found that I needed to audiobook some chapters. And I’m very happy to have had the audiobook as a companion to the ARC, actually, because it was narrated by someone who actually speaks Mandarin! There is no way that I could have read the Mandarin sections properly, and the narrator just made the experience more authentic for me. She also had a way of making it easy for me to know which characters were speaking, and she also did accents!
As to the story itself … I don’t even know where to begin. Even before reading the very first page, I knew that this book would be a painful read. I generally avoid books containing death and grief, but something about this book really pulled me in. I was also very excited that there would be a YA book that would take us to Taiwan! There are so many contemporary YA books that are set in the States, and The Astonishing Color of After was just refreshing, even for the setting alone. I also really enjoyed the magical realism, and the style of the story overall. It took me a bit to get used to it, but once I got into the rhythm of things, I was very hooked, and became very emotionally invested. This book really affected me, and I, in fact, found myself sobbing when nearing the end. This book, focused on family and love, and how to fill the hole left behind by someone dying, has definitely left an impression on me, and I am so very glad that I read it! I highly recommend The Asonishing Color of After, give it all the stars, and will be looking forward to seeing what Pan will be writing next!
– About the Author –
Emily X.R. Pan lives in Brooklyn, New York, but was born in the Midwestern United States to immigrant parents from Taiwan. She received her MFA from NYU, where she was a Goldwater Fellow. She is a co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology, and a 2017 Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi. She logs the books she reads in an Excel spreadsheet and a secret other Goodreads account. You can connect with her on her website: https://exrpan.com, on Twitter, and on Instagram.
– Hardcover –
– Audiobook –
THANK YOU FOR READING MY BOOK REVIEW! HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK? WHAT DID YOU THINK? AND IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET, DO YOU WANT TO, OR NOT? HOW COME? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!