The Astonishing Color of After

Emily X.R. Pan

fiction contemporary fantasy magical realism young adult
emotional mysterious reflective slow-paced

462 pages | first published 2018

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.

What the community thinks

summary of 1244 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

Expand filter menu View warnings


emotional 95%
sad 79%
reflective 62%
inspiring 33%
hopeful 29%
mysterious 29%
dark 20%
adventurous 16%
challenging 4%


medium 75%
slow 25%

Strong character development?

Yes: 90% | It's complicated: 4% | No: 4%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 95% | No: 5%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 95% | No: 4%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 90% | It's complicated: 5% | No: 5%

Average rating

Accept and close

By using The StoryGraph, you agree to our use of cookies.
We use a small number of cookies to provide you with a great experience.

Find out more