Monday, December 31, 2018

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

Book: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
Genre: YA magical realism
Rating: ★ ★ 

This is the story about a girl who's mom suffered from pretty severe depression and when the story begins, we know she has just committed suicide. Our girl is now trying to deal with it all. She is feeling very guilty because she was hanging at her friend's house the moment it happened and in fact, was kissing said friend for the first time, something she had dreamed about for years. She thinks it wouldn't have happened had she been home.

And so now the mom is appearing to the girl as a big red bird and is encouraging her to go visit her grandparents. Well, it just so happens that our girl has never met these grandparents, and that the mom was estranged from them her whole life.

The grandparents live in Taiwan and so her dad takes her there and they meet. During her visit, she learns, through magical means, the backstory of her mom... her dad... and her grandparents. She also remembers the progression of the crush she has had on her friend over the years... so we get that little bit of romance too.

It's a beautifully written story, full of magic and memories, Chinese culture and romance. It addresses the trauma of depression and suicide in a straight forward and tasteful way. It's all quite heart wrenching really.

The colors come in, if you are curious, because she and her friend see emotion as color and are talking about what color they are feeling all the time. Color plays a very important role in this story.

I totally enjoyed it. I did find some parts a bit long and descriptive and my patience was tested a few times. I really enjoyed all the back stories... the present day story of dealing with the suicide and getting to know the grandparents was where it drug out a bit for me. But in the end, I totally enjoyed it.


  1. Do the characters have synesthesia? or is there another term for it when colors are associated with emotions. I'm just curious.

    1. Maybe? That word was never mentioned though. It's probably more like a way for the author to be very poetic and descriptive.



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