The Astonishing Color of After

The Astonishing Color of After

Book - 2019 | First paperback edition.
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After her mother's suicide, grief-stricken Leigh Sanders travels to Taiwan to stay with grandparents she never met, determined to find her mother who she believes turned into a bird.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2019.
Edition: First paperback edition.
ISBN: 9780316464017
Branch Call Number: YA FIC PAN, E.
Characteristics: 470 pages ; 21 cm


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LPL_MaryW Jul 20, 2019

Leigh is sure of one thing—when her Taiwanese mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Her mother’s mysterious past unfolds as Leigh is visited by a beautiful and increasingly elusive red bird. When the bird delivers a package from Leigh’s maternal grandparents (whom she’s never met), Leigh and her dad travel to Taiwan to meet them and join them in grieving. Magic and realism intertwine as the story switches between past and present. As Leigh searches for her mother, she finds identity, recognition, and even love in the process. Leigh and best friend Axel’s love of art beautifully supplement the sorrow of loss by suicide. This book is an incredibly moving total package.

Feb 03, 2019

This is such a heartbreaking and sad story about depression, suicide and how it affects everyone in a family. I know a few people who have committed suicide or been affected by someone they love who have committed suicide. It's heartbreaking for those who are left behind and for those who felt they couldn't live any longer. Suicide and depression are such a huge part of society and is not something that we should ignore. I'm glad I listened to this. I wish I saw colors when I was feeling things. Or see colors when music is played like a girl last night on The Voice says happens to her.

A beautiful exploration of mental illness, family, and culture. The Astonishing Color of After takes place immediately after Leigh’s mother has committed suicide. Leigh, who is already a teenager discovering her place in the world, struggles to come to terms with what happened – and how her mother’s depression has affected both Leigh and her father. Believing that her mother’s spirit is still present, Leigh travels to Taiwan to reconnect with her estranged maternal grandparents.

This is a beautiful, thoughtful look at mental illness and grief, as well as an exploration of Taiwanese culture (the author’s background as well.) It’s also a touching reflection on family. The chapters move back in forth in time – present day Taiwan, and in the past, with flashes of memory surrounding Leigh’s mother and parents.

The subject matter here could easily become either melodramatic or saccharine, but Emily X. R. Pan has managed to write an incredibly thoughtful and balanced book that explores heavy topics with grace and a deft hand. I loved the writing, and I loved spending time with Leigh in Taiwan as she rediscovers her mother’s roots. Quietly powerful and highly recommended. (Submitted by Veronica)

Aug 18, 2018

I read the whole thing in a Saturday afternoon, it was very different from what I normally read and I enjoyed that it wasn't predictable at all. I liked how normal and real the characters were, and the emotions and hardships they experienced.

Jul 24, 2018

I don’t know what I expected from this book, but it definitely wasn’t this. “The Astonishing Colour of After” explores grief, depression and mental illness in the most heartbreaking and raw way. When Leigh’s mother commits suicide, she is not worried. Her mother is not dead. Her mother takes from in the red bird that arrives at Leigh’s doorstep. It tells her to go to Taiwan; she will find the answers she seeks there, with her grandparents. The Taiwanese culture is explored so beautifully in exquisite writing, providing an unbeatable experience for me as a reader. I truly felt as though I was walking through the night market, tasting the flavours of the city. This book consists of three parts; the present story, told in Leigh’s POV, memories, and incense visions. I had no idea that magical realism was a central focus of the story, and it was a new genre for me. I won’t say that I was the biggest fan of it, because it was hard to discern the truth from the false. On the other hand, Leigh describing her feelings as colours was one of the most relatable parts of the book, and they really hit hard. Rating 4.5/5 @jewelreader of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

KateHillier Jun 04, 2018

This is a work of art. It's sad, beautiful, magical, and so many other things that I think it's a bit beyond me. Leigh's mother dies by suicide and Leigh comes to believe that she has been reincarnated into a bird. Her father and best friend find this difficult to believe. The search for her mother leads her to visit Taiwan and meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. Culture shock, awkward family situation and communication issues abound with this backdrop of a terrible loss and an impossible belief. It's a wonderful story and well worth the time to take a look. It's really a delicate thing, much like the bird and Leigh's art.

May 31, 2018

2018 Mock Printz

“We try so hard to make these little time capsules. Memories strung up just so, like holiday lights, casting the perfect glow in the perfect tones. But that picking and choosing what to look at, what to put on display - that’s not the true nature of remembering.” - Emily X. R. Pan, The Astonishing Color of After •••
I finished this beauty last night and I’m in awe that this is the author’s debut novel. It’s poignant, surreal, tragic, hopeful, realistic, poetic, and more. It blew me away. I cried & laughed. I reflected on my own life. I connected with a mixed raced main character that dealt with looks and words that I often receive too. Sometimes a book falls into your life at just the right moment and I’m so glad I picked it up. I’ve now read 18 books this year and this one has rocketed to the top of my favorite reads. I hardly ever feel an evangelical zeal to get people to read a particular book - I’m more of a read what you want and read it for yourself don’t take my word for it type - but damn. I think everyone should read this stunning book that touches on grief, growing up, family history, memory, mental health, and love.


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