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The Astonishing Colour of After

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  24,168 ratings  ·  5,028 reviews
When Leigh's mother dies by suicide she leaves only a scribbled note - I want you to remember.

Leigh doesn't understand its meaning and wishes she could turn to her best friend, Axel - if only she hadn't kissed him and changed everything between them.

Guided by a mysterious red bird, Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. There, Leigh retreats i
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 22nd 2018 by Orion Children's Books (first published March 20th 2018)
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Vee_Bookish Not even close. This is an incredibly well handled book about depression and it's clear that the author understands what she is talking about. I highl…moreNot even close. This is an incredibly well handled book about depression and it's clear that the author understands what she is talking about. I highly recommend it!(less)
Emily Pan Yes, it is! The audiobook will be released at the same time.

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Average rating 4.10  · 
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chai ♡
The Astonishing Color of After is the kind of book that guts you, and buoys you, rips out your heart and gives it back somehow bigger. I've been putting off writing this review for many days, because the inside of me still clenches with the memory of what I've read, and I didn't anticipate how hard it would be to keep control of all my tethers long enough to articulate all that I'm feeling.

But, here we go.

So, what's this book about?

Leigh’s first kiss with her best friend and first love, Axel
Emily May
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Depression, I opened my mouth to say, but the word refused to take shape. Why was it so hard to talk about this? Why did my mother’s condition feel like this big secret?
“She’s forgotten how to be happy,” I told him.

As you can see from the picture I shared on instagram, this book was so quotable. There were so many beautiful thoughts, emotions and moments captured perfectly with words.

I probably wouldn't have read The Astonishing Color of After if I hadn't noticed it on my library's new relea
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
I'm kind of in awe of this book. It was beautifully written and it both broke and mended my heart. ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-app, favorites, ya
5 ⭐ because I don't have more

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺

I don’t know what exact words to use in order to describe The Astonishing Colour of After . I work feeling to feeling with my books and this one was like a tropical rain of feelings washing over me. What exactly are words compared to feelings?

Though, I’ll try.


I was only a couple of pages through it when I realised that I am going to love this book with my whole fibre and I was completely right
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)
TW: suicide, depression

Such a beautiful debut! The writing was exquisite, I really cared for the characters, and I loved learning more about Chinese/Taiwanese culture! It was a fully immersive read that was definitely heartbreaking, but beautiful overall. The magical realism/religion element was excellently executed. Really enjoyed this one! My only complaint is it was a teensy bit too long IMO (though it did really insanely fast for the most part).

“If he looked in my eyes straight on, he would know how he’d pierced me with an arrow, how its shaft was still sticking out of my chest, twitching each time my heart contracted. And maybe he’d see how my mother had sliced up everything else.”

This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s powerful, moving, poignant, lyrical, important, and touched me beyond words. From the discussion about mental health and the stigmas we still have in 2018 (especially
Emily Pan
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I guess I should maybe give my own book five stars?


* New York Times Bestseller
* National Indie Bestseller
* Winner of the APALA Honor Award
* Winner of the Walter Honor Award
* Winner of the Freeman Book Award
* Winner of the 'Mental Health Matters' Book Shimmy Award
* Winner of the Millikin Medal
* Finalist for the LA Times Book Prize
* Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal
* Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Debut Author
* Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Young Adult Fiction
* Finalist
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
can we all just take a moment to appreciate that this is a debut??!!? like, honestly. i am the astonishing colour of impressed.

this book definitely doesnt read like its an authors first work. this is pure magic. just the imagery alone is outstanding - it showcases dealing with grief, family relations, and first love in such beautiful and colourful way!

i really hope emily pan chooses to write another book because i am in desperate need for more of her writing!

4.5 stars
Elle (ellexamines)
Once upon a time we were the standard colors of a rainbow, cheery and certain of ourselves. At some point, we all began to stumble into the in-betweens, the murky colors made dark and complicated by resentment and quiet anger. At some point, my mother slid so off track she sank into hues of gray, a world drawn only in shadows.

This deserved its spot on the NYT bestsellers list. Actually, it deserved higher and to stay longer.

First of all, the writing is the best. This is contemporary
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
I'm proud of my Asian heritage. That said, there are some things upon which the Asian culture can improve in general, and one of the major issues is how we treat mental illness. It is a stigma. It is ignored until one explodes. Even in the US, Asian-American women have a high rates of suicide because of how unwilling we are to talk about our problem, and the unwillingness of our family to confront it.

There have been numerous suicides among famous actors and musicians in countries like Japan and
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I appreciate the themes of mental health and inclusion of Asian stories, I found the narrative and writing style to be very trite. She repeatedly uses metaphors for colors to reinforce the main character’s passion for art, but it comes across forced and cheesy. Half of the story’s focus is on the romantic subplot (at best it’s cute, but otherwise irrelevant). The other half focuses on her mother’s mental health and family background; this is told straightforwardly through flashbacks almost ...more
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
This book was absolutely stunning. Heartbreaking, but stunning. Wow.
“Believing is a type of magic. It can make something true.”

Why is it that when books mesh so well with your being you find it difficult to express the intense sense of euphoria that is enveloping you?

Instead, all I can come up with is: this is SO good.


What do I say? I mean, I knew I was going to love this based on the blurb. I remember picking it up whilst I was at Waterstones, and there was no way I could've left the shop without purchasing this book. That's how much it captivated
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
I pick up this audiobook because of the reviews. I was sucked into the hype.

It's a beautiful coming of age book about grief, hope, finding yourself.

Unfortunately Magical Realism isn't for me.
Era ➶
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trigger Warnings: suicide and depression, grief, some racism.

A full five stars. This book was so fucking amazing. It made me cry, and not a lot of books do that. This made me so emotional and happy and nostalgic and hurt all at once and there is not a color in the world that can describe that.

Emily X.R. Pan’s writing style was just so, so incredible. It was so eloquent and expressive and I could just see everything beautifully. I loved the use of colors as descriptors and the way they had a play
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, and it completely and utterly wrecked me. In case you aren’t aware, major trigger warnings for suicide and mental illness in the book and this review—proceed with caution and take care of yourself. ♥

My mother is free in the sky. She doesn’t have the burden of a human body, is not made up of a single dot of gray. My mother is a bird.

First of all, the writing in this book is stunning. It’s got this beautifully magic
C.G. Drews
Ohhhh this was emotional and super super sad and yet entirely gorgeously written. We have utterly been bLESSED by the existence of this author and her words and afjkdslad I want to read everything she ever writes. I absolutely love how the emotions were told in colours here. It made me just want to swim in a bucket of paint tbh. Right after I finished swimming in mY TEARS. I actually don't cry while reading, but I felt that hot prickle of tears behind my eyes on actual page 3. So. This one is em ...more
Trust me, no one's more disappointed than me because y'all don't know how bad I wanted to love this book!! I was just so bored during the middle 200 pages of this book because it's a very slow book + there was a lot of girl hate that annoyed me so much. But despite that, it's still an important and good book.

This is a book about a girl whose mother has committed suicide. Leigh is suffering the loss of her mother, who she sees as a bird after her mother's death. This bird wants Leigh to travel to
Larry H
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, rounded up.

Lyrical, emotionally powerful, even fantastical at times, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning, poignant look at grief, family, love, and secrets that packs a real punch, and leaves you with gorgeous images in your mind.

"We try so hard to make these little time capsules. Memories strung up just so, like holiday lights, casting the perfect glow in the perfect tones. But that picking and choosing what to look at, what to put on display—that's not the true nature
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Once upon a time we were the standard colors of a rainbow, cheery and certain of ourselves. At some point, we all began to stumble into the in-betweens, the murky colors made dark and complicated by resentment and quiet anger. At some point, my mother slid so off track she sank into hues of gray, a world drawn only in shadows.

Contemporary and magical realism, a strange combination that does not happen often. First book I ever read that included magical realism was Like What For Choco
Reading_ Tamishly
"Because the purpose of memory, I would argue, is to remind us how to live."

I love this story so much. Especially the writing. And the way the characters are developed. There's always some surprises coming up in the next chapter. And this goes on till the end. And I am so damn glad I picked up this book like it chose me to read it now and embrace me in all its dark warmth during tough times like this.

The book is basically young adult fiction which is heavily fantasy with magical realism element
Nov 19, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
It sounds so heartbreaking.
Em Lost In Books
This was the debut that I wanted to read most last year but I couldn't. The beautiful cover, equally intriguing blurb, and the all those glowing reviews, it piqued my interest in this story. So I decided to remedy it early this year before I get lured away into some other fantasy world. Oh boy, this was a disappointment. My own fault though, I guess I started with expecting too high.

Leigh's mother commits suicide and she starts seeing a bird, which she thinks is her mother. After her mother's de
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book hit home for me. From Leigh losing her mom to how she had to grow up being biracial. Just a beautiful and heartfelt story.
♛ may

im legit more disappointment in this book than i am in the world cup okay maybe thats a sliiiiight exaggeration

this book started off SOSOSOSOSO GOOD but it was SO long and i started to find the writing grow so TEDIOUS and then the mystic plot just began to overwhelm everything and i just wasn't feeling it gahhhh im so sad.

i wish it was more contemporary than mystic bc the magic realism aspect made me more confused and underwhelmed than anything. i felt like the grief and sadness got overshadow
Korrina  (OwlCrate)
Beautiful and heartbreaking. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and definitely a new favourite.
may ➹
Mar 16, 2018 marked it as need-to-finish  ·  review of another edition
this is not a bad book

it’s not!! I’m enjoying it!!!

however, it is VERY slow (since it is focused around Leigh’s grief), and usually, I’m fine with slow books. but I can currently feel myself on the edge of a slump and I will not let a slow book drag me down into that hellhole, so for now, this book is on hold


I mean, I’m not saying that I’m still in disbelief that one of my most anticipated 2018 releases is in my hands, or that I’m dropping everything

My mother is a bird. This isn’t like some William Faulkner stream-of-consciousness metaphorical crap. My mother. Is literally. A bird.

First of all, I love the quote above; such a phenomenal and humorous way to start a novel.

Wow, okay, this book went through so many ups and downs. But it doesn’t matter because it ended up being more unique and touching than I thought it would/could be -- and I couldn't be any happier by that!

The opening chapters of this novel are probably my favorite pa
Closer to a 4.5 stars
"Memory is mean thing, slicing at you from the harshest angles, dipping your consciousness into the wrong colors again and again."

Wow, this book was gorgeously written and heart-breaking and amazing. This story follows a young girl named Leigh who has just discovered her mother has killed herself. This story is about her discovering her families history that she never knew about, and going to her Mother's birth place, and dealing with an absurd amount of grief. This book
lily ☁️

Basically, I ditched all my would-be current reads and everything else in my life for this book (with Hamiltrash #1’s blessing), and it kind of (?) lived up to being one of my most anticipated 2018 releases. (rtc)

Pretty, pretty please, let me love this.


A female, half-Asian main character, a storyline set in Taiwan (!!!), and elements of magical realism, combined with lyrical prose—have my drea
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Emily X.R. Pan is the New York Times bestselling author of THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, which won the APALA Honor Award and the Walter Honor Award. It was also a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, and featured on over a dozen best-of-the-year lists, among other accolades. Emily co-created the FORESHADOW anthology, teaches creative writing, and lives on Le ...more

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