STARRED REVIEW
April 2018

A lyrical debut that soars

By Emily X.R. Pan
Review by

What is the color of grief? When 15-year-old Leigh thinks about the answer to this question after her mother’s suicide, she feels empty—translucent. She’s an artist, and every feeling she experiences has a corresponding color.

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BookPage Teen Top Pick, April 2018

What is the color of grief? When 15-year-old Leigh thinks about the answer to this question after her mother’s suicide, she feels empty—translucent. She’s an artist, and every feeling she experiences has a corresponding color.

There’s so much Leigh is struggling to understand—the depression that lead to her mother’s death, her frustrating romantic feelings for her best friend, her family’s long-buried secrets and her own Taiwanese-American identity. But the most puzzling of all is how her mother turned into a beautiful red crane, and what the bird’s nighttime visits mean. The first message she can interpret urges her to visit her maternal grandmother and grandfather (Waipo and Waigong) in Taiwan, where she can immerse herself in her mother’s world of Mandarin and Taiwanese culture as she’s always longed to do.

The Astonishing Color of After is Emily X.R. Pan’s debut novel, and it gracefully explores the depths of a teen’s trauma without ever feeling overly dramatic or saccharine. The thread of magical realism is woven through this story so skillfully that the reader will join Leigh in accepting it almost immediately. The story is centered on a heart-wrenching mystery (how should Leigh interpret the last line of her mother’s suicide note and her spirit’s puzzling transformation?), yet Pan’s prose is as warm and free-flowing as Waipo’s oolong tea, making this story a surprisingly uplifting one.

 

This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Astonishing Color of After

The Astonishing Color of After

By Emily X.R. Pan
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316463997

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