REVIEW: The Astonishing Color of After, Emily X.R. Pan (March 20, 2018)

Today I am coming to you with another five-star read for me. I knew going in that THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER was going to be up my alley–but holy emotions, Batman, I didn’t expect to be a stuttering pool of salt water. But what’s new?

And also looooook at that B-E-A-U-tiful cover.


The 411: After Leigh’s mother dies by suicide, she is visited by a large, strange bird at night. Afterwards she comes to the impossible but amazing realization: her mother isn’t dead. She’s been reincarnated into a bird.

Leigh makes the trip to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents, with whom her parents had a falling out with due to their interracial marriage. Leigh sorts through her family history, all the while experiencing recurring visits from the bird she’s convinced is her mother.


Oh boy. Ohhhhhhh boy. This book is so beautiful.

Leigh’s mother’s depression feels achingly real–and speaking as someone who was diagnosed with depression at age 14, I connected with her so much.  Her depression and her death are not romanticized, compared as to say, 13 REASONS WHY.

I’ve only recently gotten back into reading fantasy, and I haven’t had a lot of experience with magical realism–but if all magical realism books are like this, I may have found a new favorite genre.

It makes me so intensely happy to see how much representation there is in YA lit nowadays. And if it means so much to me now at 27, I can’t even imagine how much it would have meant to 10-year-old Kate. Reading a cast of characters 90 percent Asian or of Asian-descent is still amazing to me.

And the romance is friends-to-lovers. My absolute favorite thing in the entire world. *throws all the heart-shaped confetti at Emily X.R. Pan*

NOTE: I’ve had several conversations with people who are interested in this book but are wary of the YA label. I have a lot to say in regards to this snap judgment as a whole, but for now just know:

A) Yes, the character is a teen but very mature
B) No Insta-love or love triangles if that’s not your jam
C) YA is awesome no matter your age. So just do yourself a favor and pick up the book.

** Trigger warnings for depression, suicide ideation, and suicide.


MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: lovers of magical realism, family intrigue, and beautiful writing
MAY I ALSO SUGGEST: anything by Anna Marie McLemore and BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE by Ruth Emmie Lang


Thank you LBYR for my galley! The Astonishing Color of After is available March 20–and is also a Book of the Month pick for March.

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