A review by vivaldi
The Astonishing Color of After, by Emily X.R. Pan

4.0

Awww I loved reading The Astonishing Color of After and I'm still reeling over the technicolour excellence of the book. I thought the messaging, writing, as well as the cultural representation were really well done!! It's a vividly written, emotionally touching, and sincere read which is leaving me in coloured streaks after I had finished the book.

What I enjoyed:

+ The writing style: The word painting and magic realism are signatures of the writing style. I really loved how the emotions that Leigh tries to convey are described in terms of a wide spectrum of colours. As someone who had a rough idea with colour theory, I think the colourful descrptions enhances the emotional engagement while I was reading the book.

+ Cultural representation: I really loved the way Emily X.R. Pan described the Taiwanese culture in the book. It felt really authentic to me and I really liked how these elements seamlessly incorporated into the magical realism.

+ The messaging: This is one of the most successful aspects of The Astonishing Color of After. Through a nuanced approach and sincere narratives, this book not only portrays the experience of living with depression, it also highlights the importance of seeking help / having a healthy support network. Through the solid messaging, this book also has excellent characterisation: this is Leigh's journey of self-discovery as much as her journey of understanding her family & her mother.


What to be aware of:

- This book contains following potential content warnings: depression, mental illness, loss of loved ones, suicide, and ambulance.

- Pacing: The pacing is on the slow side but I think the slower pacing works quite well in the book. I think the moments of reflection & introspection in the book are also moments in which Leigh experienced her most profound character growth.

To sum it up, The Astonishing Color of After is a beautifully written masterpiece which offered a lot of depth and sincerity upon tackling the common stigma around mental illness.