Book Club Discussion Guide – The Astonishing Color of After

Me and my fellow book club queen, YA and Wine, are the hosts of a fabulous local book club called YA and Wine. We have an amazing discussion every month, and after almost three years of meetings we’ve finally come to realize just how important it is to share our discussion questions for other people who are interested in reading what we’re reading!

December marks our first post where we will be discuss our December 2018 book, The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan!

About the Book

Title: The Astonishing Color of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan


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 novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.


Discussion Questions

  1. What color would you use to describe this book?
  2. What did you think of the magical realism used throughout this book?
  3. What are some other YA books with magical realism that you’ve enjoyed?
  4. Do you think there was any symbolic significance to the fact that it was a bird that Leigh’s mother transformed into?
  5. Did you enjoy reading a book written in a nonlinear fashion, where it flashes back and forth between past and present?
  6. Did you enjoy Emily X.R. Pan’s poetic writing style in this novel?
  7. Can you think of any other authors with similar writing styles?
  8. Leigh struggles with communication between her grandparents, and even between Axel, how do you think this affected Leigh’s ability to cope with her grief?
  9. How did you feel about the representation of mental health in this book?
  10. Did reading the afterword in this book have an impact on your appreciation for the rest of the novel?

Other Discussion Questions and Activities

We always strive to make sure everyone has fun at our book club meetings each month so we’ve made an effort to find fun bookish ice breakers! This month we chose a quiz we found on Epic Reads called Can You Guess the Young Adult Book from the Dedication?

We also prepare some generic book discussion questions related to upcoming events or book club news. Sometimes we prepare other fun talking points like how each person would rate the book for example. As we wrap up the year our general discussion questions revolved around reading goals! Check them out below!

  • Did you hit your 2018 reading goal? What was it?
  • What are your 2019 reading goals?
  • What is your most anticipated book of 2019?
  • Which author are you most hoping we get to see here in Salt Lake in 2019?
  • Upcoming Events:
    • Ruthanne Snow – When the Truth Unravels 01/11
    • Tiana Smith – Match Me If You Can 01/12
    • Holly Black – The Wicked King 01/14.
  • Do you have any ideas for activities, monthly reading themes, etc. for the book club in 2019?

Look for next months Discussion post about our January YA and Wine pick: 

Dry by Neal Shusterman! 

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