Hey y’all! Today I wanted to review two books, a YA and an adult, that deal with grief and loss of a close loved one. So let’s get into it.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan is a story about Leigh who loses her mother to suicide and is convinced that her mother has turned into a bird. Leigh is a Taiwanese-American girl who has never met her maternal grandparents. In an attempt to help her cope with her mother’s death she travels to Taiwan to connect with her grandparents and finally let her mother go.
I wasn’t as enamored with this book as everyone else. Pan’s exploration of depression and mental illness was spot on. Since we follow Leigh’s perspective we see her piecing together her mom’s mental illness through observation. I thought the descriptions of the lethargy and hollowness were things that I could actually feel. On the other hand, I thought some of the descriptions of feeling as colors was a little heavy handed. With this being Pan’s debut I think that things like that will eventually smooth out as she grows.
Leigh as a character was great. She grew so much over the course of the book and I enjoyed seeing her mature because initially I felt that she was very young acting for her age. There is diversity in the book that wasn’t a focus but just was. The romance was minuscule in the plot and albeit a little predictable, it was also incredibly adorable. Her best friends in the book were great characters and you could feel how much they cared for each other. I also enjoyed the growth of Leigh and her dad’s relationship in the aftermath of her mother’s suicide. I thought Pan handled the way that family members often try to blame themselves in situations of suicide and how it’s hard to fully understand what the loss of a loved one can do to the other family members.
Overall, I do recommend this book even for not only YA readers but also adult readers.
Parental Warning: suicide, depression, mild language, mild sex
Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan is about a brother who goes to the small town in Japan where his sister lived after she was brutally murdered. He goes to collect her things and tries to piece together her life while she was there and figure out who killed his sister.
I thought this book was pretty good, but it lacked something for me. I did enjoy the writing and will probably pick up her next book. I felt that some plot points within the story were picked up and dropped or were resolved too quickly. The murder mystery plot could have been more fleshed out, but I get that this was not the main plot. The brother’s journey through his grief was beautiful and I could relate to the ways he was feeling in some ways.
The character of the brother, Ren. was fleshed out and I did feel like we did get to know the dead sister. I saw some of the reveals with her coming but that made me love her more. A few of the side characters felt like they were thrown in to drive the plot, so I didn’t really get to know them.
Overall, I would recommend this book to a certain reader. I don’t really know how to classify this book, so I would have to really think about the reader’s taste in order to recommend it.
Here are two books that deal with grief in similar and yet different ways.
Have you read either of these books? Are you planning on reading them? Let’s chat in the comments.
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