Friday, 18 May 2018

Review - The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Title: The Astonishing Colour of After
Author: Emily X.R. Pan
Pages: 480
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
Release Date: 22nd March 2018

Blurb from Goodreads: 

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.

With lyrical prose and magical elements, Emily X.R. Pan's stunning debut novel alternates between past and present, romance and despair, as one girl attempts to find herself through family history, art, friendship, and love.

 My Review:

*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Hachette Children's Group and NetGalley*

Teenager Leigh Chen Sanders's life is turned upside down when her mother commits suicide.
After Leigh finds a note from her mother in the trash with the words 'I want you to remember', a large red bird appears. A bird that Leigh is sure is her mother.
Then Leigh makes her way to Taiwan to meet her mother's parents.
With her relationship with her best friend, Axel, on the rocks, and grief-stricken, Leigh is determined to do as her mother wanted and remember.
Why did Leigh's mother have nothing to do with her parents?
What will Leigh discover while in Taiwan?

The Astonishing Colour of After is the kind of book you want to savour while reading. The writing was beautiful, the story heartfelt and tear-jerking. I loved the magical realism aspects and finding out more about Leigh's family as well as her relationship with Axel.
Leigh was a relatable protagonist and I really felt for her. Leigh being mixed race was interesting and thought-provoking at times - an American called her 'exotic' and she was called a 'foreigner' in Taiwan. I can imagine that it would be hard to feel like you belong somewhere in a situation like that.
The plot was interesting and I liked that we got to see memories other than Leigh's own.
The writing style was easy to follow and immediately drew me in.
I am definitely looking forward to seeing what the author writes next.

Overall this was an enjoyable read that I would recommend.