Posted in Emily X.R. Pan, Reading, Review

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

Shoutout to NetGalley (like usual) for giving me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

A description of the book: Leigh – half Asian and half white – is certain that her mother turned into a bird when she died by suicide. She travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for her first time, and she’s determined to find her mother in bird form. She ends up chasing after ghosts and uncovering family secrets while making a new relationship with her grandparents.

I’m very conflicted about what star rating to give this, because I feel like it deserves a high one? But, three stars is ‘liked it’, and four stars is ‘really liked it’, and I think I just ‘liked it’. So three stars isn’t a bad rating.

Things I liked:

  • So. Much. Food.
  • The exposure to Chinese/Taiwanese culture and learning about it
  • The execution of magical realism/religion
  • Reiterated the biological aspect of depression
  • The writing is b e a u t i f u l and I love the use of colour metaphors
  • It doesn’t romanticize suicide
  • There’s resources for people seeking support and/or have lost someone to suicide at the end of the book


Things I didn’t like:

  • It’s long
  • It moves very quickly
  • It jumps around a lot between the present, Leigh’s memories, and the memories of other people
  • I didn’t feel like we got to know too much about the characters now, just their pasts
  • Axel uses a girl as a ‘distraction’ from someone else
  • In some places, the description was Too Much
  • They describe emotions using unfamiliar colours so I didn’t really know what they were feeling??
  • I still don’t really understand why Leigh wanted to find her mother or what she wanted to get out of it


So, in conclusion, this book is beautiful. It can start discussions on depression and suicide that would usually be avoided, and it goes into so much detail about different treatments and how they might not work for everyone. It introduces the readers to (potentially) new cultures in an honest and exciting way.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


On a cold Autumn evening back in 2008, seven-year-old Tegan Anderson began to write their first short stories, finding a more creative way to learn their spellings. Many years and many more short stories later, they haven't stopped for anything. Now, they're writing more than they ever believed possible. Tegan may write the worlds they would prefer to exist in but currently lives in Devon with their overflowing bookshelves and expanding imagination.

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