An Astonishing Color of After

An Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Print Length: 480 pages
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hello Readers! It’s been ages since I posted a book review. Nevertheless, I now have a membership to the Douglas County Library @dclcolorado, & I am guilty of making way too many simultaneous book reservations. Thus, I think, is the delightful life of a bookworm.

TW: Mental Illness, Suicide, Mental Health, Social & Family Issues, Death, Depression, Racism

Leigh Chen Sander, an aspiring young artist, is suddenly faced with a life-changing event(s). In the afternoon when she & Axel (her best friend & secret crush) finally exchange an electric kiss, Leigh runs home to discover that her mother has died by suicide. In grief & shock, she comes to believe that her mother has turned into a majestic bird who wants her to know something. Leigh has never met her maternal grandparents. She was raised in the United States as a half-white & half-Asian girl. None of her parents were willing to talk about their personal problems openly. When she flies to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time, she finds there is more to what her parents have been hiding from her all those years.

The story alternates between past & present. Leigh is in search of answers for her mother with the help of memories. Despite her sadness, she is adamant about getting the facts. Her travel to Taiwan & meeting her maternal grandparents are pivotal in finding it. The plot includes references to Taiwanese customs, religion, culture, & food. It also addresses difficulties related to being biracial, mental health, its effects on families, & learning about one’s own family’s history & secrets.

Once upon a time we were the standard colors of a rainbow, cheery and certain of ourselves. At some point, we all began to stumble into the in-betweens, the murky colors made dark and complicated by resentment and quiet anger.  At some point, my mother slid so off track she sank into hues of gray, a world drawn only in shadows.

― Leigh

Leigh uses colors to convey her sentiments throughout the novel. Her narration of events & emotions via colours (also known as Synthesia) takes a while to wash over you. It illuminates the various ways that people cope with loss and grief. Although it’s not a happy book, this one will take you on a journey of conquering despair & a number of unexpected events that will leave you feeling melancholy & hopeful long after you’ve finished reading it.

Ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being exceptional):
Quality of writing – 8
Pace – 8
Plot development – 7
Characters – 7
Enjoyability – 6
Insightfulness – 8
Ease of reading – 9
Photo/Illustrations – NA

Buy your copy – An Astonishing Color of After

Thank you so much for reading this post. Cheers!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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A closet writer with a knack for adding vivid, witty & personal details. I love coffee, books and food. Highly appreciate lo-fi music and illustrations. Borderline obsessed with stationery, productivity and organisation tools. Always in search of adventures & stories by travelling or being buried in books. Current Status ↠ Growing plants in my room. Life Goals ↠ Spark conversations, ideas & inspiration with a cup of mild roasted black coffee.

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