Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Date: September 26th 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
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.
From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman is a coming-of-age story about Kiko, a half Japanese half American girl, who is an artist. Her dream is to get into Prism and to go away from her mother’s clutches, but when a rejection letter arrives on her doorstep, her dreams are shattered, leaving her without knowing what to do.
I loved this book. I could relate with Kiko in so many ways I could have been the protagonist of the book as well. She is hurt by everyone because in the end, you’re Asian and this will form a wall between you and everyone else, making socializing most times difficult because of what happened and happens to you.
In subtle ways, you’re rejected every day, even by your parents. But this book, Kiko’s story, is a story of self-discovery, of self-acceptance, of deciding what is best for your future.
It’s a poignant story, that brings you to the verge of tears sometimes. Kiko has suffered like us, she has social anxiety. Going out is a big NO for both of ourselves.
However this book is a path towards accepting who we are. A month ago I wrote a discussion post about racism because of something that happens frequently, if you want to check it out, click here.
If I could, I’d go into the story, hug Kiko and tell her that she’s not alone, that there are hundreds, if not thousands of teenagers with her same problems.
Her character was well-built and we can see her growing up throughout the book. And this is another reason why I loved the book. Even though romance played a huge part in the book, it wasn’t its main focus.
And Jamie? He’s to die for. He’s sweet and caring and sees Kiko for who she is and not for what she is. He always helps her when she’s going to have a panic attack or when she’s uncomfortable being around people.
When I finished the book, one emotion lingered: hope. Hope that things may get better, that we can realise our dreams, that we can overcome our fears. I know that this emotion will soon fade, but I like this feeling. The writing style is really good and I think the author did a perfect job in portraying foreign people’s everyday struggle. I absolutely recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Here’s the playlist with some songs I love and I think suit the story. Let me know in the comments what you think of them!
Antidote by Faith Marie
Human by Christina Perri
Most Girls by Hailee Stainfeld
Wild Horses by Birdy
I Hate U I Love U by Gnash
Somebody’s Love by Passenger
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About the author
Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of STARFISH. She’s a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix. STARFISH will be published later this year (9/26/17, Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster), with a second YA contemporary to follow in Fall 2018. She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.