STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publisher: Simon Pulse (September 26th 2017)
Genre: YA Contemporary
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher Simon Pulse in exchange for an honest review.
Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.
Trigger warnings: toxic maternal relationship, emotional abuse, sexual abuse
I don’t even know where to start with this review because I loved this book so much. This was one of my most anticipated releases this year and it exceeded my expectations.
We follow Kiko as she’s struggling with quite a few things. Her emotionally abusive mother. Her social anxiety that stops her from doing the things she wants to. Feeling like she never fits in with her Japanese looks and wanting to look more “normal”; more Caucasian. Her Uncle Max, who sexually abused her when she was younger, is about to move back in with her family. And when she isn’t accepted in to her dream school Prism, everything seems to fall apart.
The writing in Starfish was very beautiful. Kiko is an artist and the descriptions of her paintings and other things were done so well; I could picture them perfectly in my mind. Something that I really liked is that most chapters ended with a description of what Kiko was painting. I’ve read a few books in which a character would have a hobby but it was only mentioned once or twice in the story. In Starfish painting and just being overall creative is a huge part of Kiko and it really shows throughout the entire story.
Kiko’s self-discovery and self-acceptance were absolutely wonderful. As the story progresses she learns more about her Japanese heritage and what ‘beauty’ actually means. That there are more ways to be beautiful.
“I want to take care of myself”,
is a quote that really stood out to me. Kiko is determined to make changes in her life but she refuses to be dependent on a boy while she is making certain changes. And I loved that. She even distances herself and does what she can in order to take care of herself.
Overall, I can definitely say that Starfish is a new favorite book of mine and I am looking forward to future books by Akemi Dawn Bowman!