The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan
Published by Orion Children’s Books
Released 22nd March 2018
Goodreads / Amazon
Leigh Chen Sanders is sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving only a scribbled note: ‘I want you to remember’. Leigh doesn’t know what it means, but when a red bird appears with a message, she finds herself travelling to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time.
Leigh is far away from home and far away from Axel, her best friend, who she stupidly kissed on the night her mother died – leaving her with a swell of guilt that she wasn’t home, and a heavy heart, thinking she may have destroyed the one good thing left in her life.
Overwhelmed by grief and the burden of fulfilling her mother’s last wish, Leigh retreats into her art and into her memories, where colours collide and the rules of reality are broken. The only thing Leigh is certain about is that she must find out the truth. She must remember.
Wow! Is the first thing I can say about this book. It takes you on such a heart wrenching journey and yes, I’ll admit tears were shed. You really get deep into how losing someone close to you can affect you mentally. Some of the feelings felt by Leigh and the rest of her family I found I could relate to and I do love when I can relate to topics being faced by fictional characters. It makes the whole story seem more realistic.
Suicide is often seen as a taboo subject that we shouldn’t talk about, but that is wrong. It’s something that needs to spoke about more and I applaud the author for highlighting this issue in a sensitive way that doesn’t glamorize it. Through this amazing story we get to see how depression and ultimately suicide can affect not only the person going through it but their loved ones too.
I also enjoyed the cultural aspect to the plot – having never been to Taiwan I felt like I learnt a bit about their way of life just by reading this. It’s also great to see a wide range of different races being brought into YA fiction.
The Astonishing Colour of After was an incredible read. It took me on an emotional journey through the eyes of someone dealing with a horrible thing. If you need a good cry or just want to read something with a lot of depth and feeling, this is the book for you.
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