The Astonishing Color of After

The Astonishing Color of After
Written by Emily X.R. Pan

Publisher’s Summary:
After her mother’s suicide, grief-stricken Leigh Sanders travels to Taiwan to stay with grandparents she never met, determined to find her mother who she believes turned into a bird.

Primary Source Pairing:
The Astonishing Color of After is a reading experience that will leave you thinking of color differently. Upon reading, you will reconsider the color of your thoughts, your experiences, and your emotions. Axel and Leigh’s question to each other, “What color?” will stick with you and you will begin asking yourself the same thing: “What color?” For this primary source analysis, use a color wheel to create text to visual connections. Invite students to find textual evidence and cite colors on the wheel.

“My worry expanded like a coral balloon, its color growing paler with every breath that filled its belly, until the worry was almost see-through, little more than the hint of a shadow, but nevertheless still constant, still there” (page 104).

“Behind my eyelids, I can see my mother’s careful hands roving over the keys, feeling out the tune and its roots and its peaks, her eyes closed, the expression on her face suffused with the sepia hues of nostalgia, with viridian music” (page 190).

“I see colors in the dark now. Sometimes they form shapes, or even faces. Sometimes they get angry with me, turn a dirty, boiling crimson. Sometimes they try to soothe me, drawing themselves like crystals in a pale dusty blue” (page 294).

“My heart busting with manganese blue and new gamboge yellow and quinacridone rose” (page 454).

Questions for Discussion:

  • What do you notice first?
  • Find something small but interesting.
  • What do you notice that you didn’t expect?
  • What do you notice that you can’t explain?
  • Explain the role of colors in the book The Astonishing Color of After.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Original Real Color Wheel by Don Jusko:
Image link: linked on Flickr: