Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

After reading this, I felt heavy. This book has so much weight to it. I knew it would focus on mental health, but didn’t anticipate in what way. It’s really, really something. TW for suicide and depression.

I don’t feel I can write this review in my usual way. It made me feel so much. It’s not a book I will probably read again. The impact is certainly there, but knowing what it contains, I don’t know that I could encounter it again.

It’s beautiful. Stunning. Dark. So, so heavy. When Leigh’s mother commits suicide, her life seems to crash. But then her mother begins reappearing to Leigh as a beautiful red bird. An unexpected gift from the bird takes Leigh and her father to Taiwan, where Leigh meets her mother’s parents, who she has never met.

With a dash of magical realism, Leigh tries to decipher the puzzle pieces of her mother’s past, of the family and secrets she never knew. This is juxtaposed with the story between Leigh and her best friend Axel, in the years before her mother’s death.

There’s a lot to be revealed, and a lot unexpected. Right until the end there are mysteries revealed.

The book depicts depression in a way I’ve never read before. It hurts to read, but also fills the reader with so much understanding.

The story with Axel isn’t nearly as heavy as the rest, but does serve to add some levity to the story. Though beautiful and haunting to follow Leigh’s personal discovery about her mother’s life, it helped to have Leigh’s own past in there to break up the pieces. And this too helps show what her mother was going through, and what Leigh is experiencing in the present.

I don’t know what else to say, except to say that if you do read this, it will stay with you. It won’t be easily forgotten.

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