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

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
Genre: YA Contemporary, Magical Realism
Publication: March 20th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC (thank you, the Novl!)

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.


I hadn’t heard much about THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER before I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this gorgeous novel in my mailbox. After I read the synopsis, I became so excited to read this, especially because it features a Chinese-American protagonist, written by an #ownvoices author.

THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER follows Leigh, whose Chinese mother committed suicide. As a result, she is pushed to go to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents. Along the way, she becomes more encompassed by her Chinese heritage and learns more about her family history. This novel is written by revealing the timelines of the past and present, through flashbacks and memories. This made this novel so unique, unraveling Leigh’s family’s history in short yet packed chapters. My only reservation of this novel is that I felt like some parts of the novel lagged and felt a tad exhausting to read.

Leigh was a lovely main character – she’s torn because of her mother’s suicide, which happened to be on the same day that she kissed her best friend Axel. I really enjoyed seeing her grow from the beginning of the the novel to the end, during which she reforms and develops relationships with her grandparents and her dad.

Overall, THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER is a lovely debut novel that deals with grief and learning to move on through family history, art, and love. If you’re looking for a wonderfully diverse novel with fantastic Chinese-American representation as well as artistic writing, be sure to check this one out.

Thank you to the Novl for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


alice name.pngAlice is an 18 year old college student who loves the oxford comma, television shows, and the company of dogs. She finds writing in the third person odd yet enjoyable. You can find her scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, and forever organizing her shelves on Goodreads.


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Are you planning to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!


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