Hey guys! I’m here just enduring another anxious, sleepless night so I thought I’d put this to some productivity and write some reviews! One of the best books I read last year on a whim was Astonishing Color of After which is set to release this March.
Title: The Astonishing Color of After
Author: Emily X. R. Pan
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Expected Release: March 20, 2018
My Rating: 5/5 Goodreads stars
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.
This book broke me and put me back together again and broke me again and repaired me again. I don’t even know how it managed to do so, but honestly I don’t care as long as I got to be part of this world. I wish it was longer. Pulled from Goodreads:
I am in love and I don’t care who sees.
Yes, that was a direct Elf quote. And it perfectly describes how I feel about this book. Full review to come, but in short, this book is beautifully written and lyrical. It is something that brings color and truth to grief and the aftermath. Highly recommend this!!
I read this right before finals time. It was an incredible pick me up, and I’m so lucky to have found a copy collecting dust on my bookstore’s ARC shelf. It would have been a waste had it not been picked up immediately and read.
Leigh is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever met, and I loved it so much. A large part of how Leigh communicates her feelings and even describes them to herself is through color. In bursts of great rainbows are we able to see the world in her eyes, and I loved the diverse nature of her perspective. Going back to your roots is hard when you don’t know much about them. There is so much she wants to learn, and she doesn’t know where to start with all of the covered up family history.
One of the best parts of the book was the emotion. It was raw and painful with no holding back, and it was eloquently done. I could feel the emotion that Pan bled into the pages with each word. It was something that I can’t stop thinking about. With Leigh’s colors, emotions became as visually vibrant as they were abstractly. Leigh’s grief is what compels her to go to Taiwan. It is what brings her forward in her personal journey.
The setting was gorgeous. I felt like I was wandering the Taiwanese markets with Leigh and her grandparents. I loved the detail and the dissonance that Leigh feels while being in Taiwan was something that spoke to me. Living as an Asian-American, there are a lot of expectations on both sides, both cultures. When you fail to meet one of them, there is a certain feeling of otherness as you try to straddle both sides but come short. I feel like this was well captured throughout the story.
Art is another big aspect in this book for Leigh. It’s a source of healing and expression for her. I love that she persists to pursue her passion despite the tension between herself and her father. It shows that she is developing her beliefs and boundaries. There are things she’s willing to sacrifice and things she isn’t.
This personal journey was thrilling and magical to be part of. I really hope you take part in it when it releases this March!