The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan – Review


Author: Emily X.R. Pan 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date: March 20th 2018

Pages: 462

Price: $ 24.99 CAD (hardcover) at Indigo Books & Music Online



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.- Emily X.R. Pan The Astonishing Color of After


First Sentence

My mother is a bird.


Holy moly ravioli! The Astonishing Color of After is probably my favorite read of 2019 so far!

This novel is about Leigh, a teen who is coping after the sudden loss of her mother. She believes her mother has turned into a bird and is trying to tell her something. As soon as I read the synopsis on Goodreads, I knew I had to read this one! I do not regret this!

I actually did my English argumentative essay on this novel and I got a 96% (not bad, huh!) My thesis statement was: “The Astonishing Color of After is a bold and though-provoking novel because the author delineates the realism of depression, suicide, and grief to its reader with the most meticulous and illustrative writing.” I also am forcing many of my friends to read this book and I am looking at buying a copy of my own because I picked this one up from the library but I feel like this is a story I want on my shelf!

“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.”

– Emily X.R. Pan, The Astonishing Color of After

What I loved most about The Astonishing Color of After was the writing. Emily X.R. Pan is REALLY GOOD! I felt like I was watching the story develop on a screen but I was also reading the book at the same time. Like, you know when you are reading a book you notice different things than in a movie and vice-versa? Well Emily X.R. Pan captivates a movie and a novels perks and smashes it into this astonishingly illustrative novel. I could visualize everything! The colours that she describes were amazing and I loved the descriptions and to be able to learn all those cool things about Taiwanese culture! The flashbacks were placed at just the right time in the book and always had an ulterior meaning. Everything in this novel had an ulterior meaning! I was absolutely and irrevocably hooked! I loved reading this novel as much as I love reading Cassandra Clare, and that says something! I am actually sort of speechless when it comes to this novel because unlike other books, (even Cassie Clare) there is always things I don’t really like about them but not at all for The Astonishing Color of After!

“Memory is a mean thing, slicing at you from the harshest angles, dipping your consciousness into the wrong colors again and again. A moment of humiliation, or devastation, or absolute rage, to be rewound and replayed, spinning a thread that wraps around the brain, knotting itself into something of a noose. It won’t exactly kill you, but it makes you feel the squeeze of every horrible moment. How do you stop it? How do you work the mind free?”

– Emily X.R. Pan, The Astonishing Color of After

I won’t spoil but I am begging you to read this literary masterpiece! I have never encountered a YA author as talented as Emily X.R. Pan! Also, THIS IS HER FIRST NOVEL! WHATTTTT! She is literally the Charlotte Brontë of the 21rst century! Publish more books Emily! I’m waiting!

Final Review/Recommendation

76985-20076985-20076985-20076985-20076985-200(I’d give six if I could)

Anyone and everyone read this book. I don’t care if you are a sixty year old man, a twelve year old girl or a cat! Read this book and talk to me about it! I think that pretty much sums it up. READ THIS!!!

“Hold your finger to the sky with so much force it lengthens like a spine. Look up to the point of it and beyond. There. That tiny patch of the world, no bigger than the tip of your finger. At first glance, it might look like one flat color. Blue, or gray, or maybe even orange.

But it’s much more complex than that. Squint. See the daubs of lilac. The streak of sage no wider than a hyphen. That butterscotch smear and the faint wash of carnelian. All of them coming together to swirl at the point just above your finger.

Breathe them in. Let them settle in your lungs. Those are the colors of right now.”

– Emily X.R. Pan, The Astonishing Color of After


Let me know what you thought of my review or of The Astonishing Color of After!

Have a great week!

-Emma 😉



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