The Astonishing Color of After
By: Emily XR Pan
Publication: March 20th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magic Realism
Source: Publisher (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
I'd seen The Astonishing Color of After available for review from both NetGalley and Edelweiss and decided not to request it based off the description. The cover pulled me in to read the description, but I wasn't sold from there. I couldn't tell if this book was supposed to be contemporary or fantasy. Honestly, I enjoy both genres, but I don't tend to like books that try to mix them up. Or ones that start with a character who has no knowledge of this fantastical world that they live in but just aren't aware of. Sometimes an author can make this work, but I just wasn't sure about The Astonishing Color of After. Due to my restricted reading time, I decided to take a pass.
However, the publisher ended up sending me an unrequested hardcopy. At this point even though I don't feel an obligation to read a book I didn't request, I thought I'd give it a try. Surprisingly I was pulled in quickly. The description tells you about this, but I wasn't expecting to jump right into it. Leigh kisses her best friend and flees his house immediately. As she makes it home her house is swarmed with people due to her mother's suicide. Two huge emotional moments--the first being completely dwarfed by the other.
Truth be told, I wasn't completely turned off by the fantastical moments of The Astonishing Color of After like I worried I might be. The writing was really good. Like really good. So why, you might wonder, did I DNF this book that I was enjoying at page 136ish? Here's why:
-"Never do it on a farm," said Charles in a mock low voice, leaning toward Caro like he was saying this in confidence. "No matter how beautiful and sexy your girl is." There was extra emphasis on the word sexy. "Papi," Caro pleaded. She looked mortified. "What are you so embarrassed about?" said Gaelle. "I loved a few women back in my day." "More than a few," said Mel, "the way I heard it" Caro's grandmother ignored this. "You love who you love. There's no changing that. You do your loving whenever, wherever you wish--"
I don't believe in this philosophy...you love who you love... I've had this philosophy pushed down my throat with books, TV, and media to the point where I'm over it. And I've come to the point in my life--reading and real--where I just don't need it. I'm over it. Done. The end.
All else considered The Astonishing Color of After was enjoyable for the 136ish pages that I read. The writing was quite good. But I'm over the "do what makes you feel good" and "love who you want" philosophies. Have you read The Astonishing Color of After? What did you think? Let me know!