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 stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
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"Pan's sweeping tale of magic, grief, family, and freshman year follows Leigh Chen Sanders to Taiwan in the aftermath of her mother's suicide. Narrator Stephanie Hsu gives color to the vivid palette Leigh uses to describe senses and emotions. As Leigh bonds with the grandparents she was never allowed to know, she searches for the red bird she believes her mother became. Hsu finds a balance of wonder and anguish as Leigh explores her family's past through increasingly mystical experiences. Her mother's struggle with depression is shown realistically in widening spirals full of numbed emotions and chilling thoughts. Leigh and her friends have just the right touches of youthful snark and flattened tones, while Taiwan is full of bright bursts of Mandarin. S.T.C. © AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine"
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