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

Gr 9 Up –Leigh comes home to the unimaginable—her mother, who has always been depressed, has committed suicide.
redstarPAN, Emily X.R. The Astonishing Color of After. 480p. Little, Brown. Mar. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316463997.

Gr 9 Up –Leigh comes home to the unimaginable—her mother, who has always been depressed, has committed suicide. As her grief swells, Leigh believes in her fog that her mother has not died but her mother’s spirit has now turned into a vivid bird who brings Leigh gifts, both physical and in the form of memories. Trying to put all the pieces together, her father and Leigh travel to Taiwan, where her mother immigrated from to the United States after meeting Leigh’s father. She has never met her mother’s family, and does not understand why her mother never spoke to Leigh about her parents or her childhood. Seeking answers for these questions and more, Leigh’s father leaves her in Taiwan to stay with her grandparents. The present-day is woven with flashback memories; Pan’s writing takes readers on a journey filled with so much emotion, color, and such well-developed characters with a touch of magic, readers will come to the ending drained and fulfilled at the same time. An exploration of grief and what it means to accept a loved one’s suicide, this book’s lyrical and heart-rending prose invites readers to take flight into their own lives and examine their relationships. VERDICT Pan’s debut novel is not to be missed. Give this to fans of magical realism titles and any reader who is battling grief.–Stephanie Charlefour, formerly of Wixom Public Library, MI

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

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