The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Recommended by Haili Hughes (@HughesHaili)

Form and genre: prose, fiction, family and social issues

Length: 480 pages

Summary: Leigh Chen Sanders is 16 when her mother commits suicide. The note her mother left tells Leigh to “remember” but doesn’t say what she must remember. When Leigh encounters a large red bird that speaks her name in her mother’s voice, she is certain that the bird is her mother. The bird tells her that she must go to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. Leigh knows that the answers she seeks will be there, and so persuades her grieving father to take her there. Leigh immerses herself in Taiwanese culture and does her best to connect with the spirit of her mother.

Age recommendation and challenging content: Year 7-9 and there is suicide at the start of the book. But it isn’t graphically described.

Notable reasons for recommending this book: Cultural and explores Buddhist teaching and ideas also. The descriptions are also stunning and evocative.