Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman – Book Review
I’m currently writing this from a beach in Cornwall while on holiday, which I think is an apt location for a book called Starfish! (And I’m now posting this when I’m back home and it’s raining. What a come down.)
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman was a present for my birthday from my friend Sophie. It had already been on my Amazon wish list for a while because I knew the author was going to be attending YALC, so I was happy when I had it as a birthday present instead! I’d seen it recommended by a few people, so I had high expectationsâ€¦
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.
You know when you read a book and the second you turn the last page, you know it’s one you’ll be recommending to absolutely everyone? Starfish was one of those books. As soon as I started reading, I knew this would be a book for me!
Starfish features so many important themes and great representation of so many different things, including mental health, toxic family relationships, and the struggles of being a POC teenager in a predominantly white area.
Due to the strong themes, there are a few trigger warnings that you might need to be aware of, which you can see on the author’s website. Starfish might be a sensitive book for some readers, but the way Kiko’s story is told is so beautiful and I’d urge absolutely anyone to read it.
One thing that always bumps up my opinion of a book is when I can feel such strong emotions or opinions towards a particular character, and there are definitely several instances of this in Starfish. From Kiko’s self-obsessed mother and her abusive uncle to the wonderfully kind-hearted and generous artist that Kiko meets later in the book, there’s an incredible range of characters that you’ll either love or hate!
Often, when I read a book that blows me away, I struggle to know what to say in a review except OMG, READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW PLZ, I BEG YOU. This falls into that category.
If you love a book full of emotions, well-written characters, important themes and beautiful friendships, please pick up a copy of Starfish. It might just become one of your favourite books this year.