Title: The Astonishing Color of After
Author: X. R. Pan
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Asian Literature, Young Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
TW: This book contains in-depth exploration into those with depression and has thoughts of suicide.
Leigh’s mother has just passed and Leigh is learning how to live without her. When she encounters her mother’s ghost now in the shape of a great red bird, Leigh travels to Taiwan to find out what her mothers ghost is really trying to tell her. This is a nonlinear novel told through various points in time.
As I said, this is a non linear novel which means that this story is told over multiple points in time. Flashbacks, memories, and the present and all mixed together and change every chapter. Of course, the one’s regarding her mother are the more dearest and were necessary but the constant switching with Axel and then the present.
The depression talk gets really in depth. There were times I had to stop reading because of how real it felt. How much I was able to relate and to understand those feelings that Dory felt. Depression is more than just not being happy.
“‘She’s forgotten how to be happy,’ I told him. But that felt wrong, too.”
Depression is something that is increasing in diagnosis. This influx of those with this chemical imbalance almost normalizes it. We need to drag attention back to the fact that there are those you so affect and those who care about you. If not, try to care for yourself altogether. But just because you feel this way does not mean you are broken. You are just trying to find your way.
The translations are almost effortlessly perfect. I loved learning so much about the Chinese language and culture. Thank you so much for this work of art. There needs to be more Chinese representation and this book with its setting mostly in Taiwan, we are able to see into this culture.
Waipo taps my elbow and points at a shelf. “Ni mama zui xihuan,” she tells me. Your mother’s favorite.
This book shows the true form of depression. This is what people feel and how they are when they truly are not happy. And sometimes, no matter what you do, that person has been set in their ways. But you should never stop trying and being there for that person. It’s the only thing you can do.
This is a wonderful read and I highly recommend this novel but be warned that it is quite dark. I did place those trigger warnings in the beginning because there is quite a lot of depression shown through this and how it not only affects you but others around you.
My similar recommendation for this novel would be Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger.
“We’re not lost,” Axel said finally. “We’re just headed somewhere different.”