book review · books · Review · romance · YA · Young adult fiction

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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. 

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Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman is a wonderful book, full of important topics related to today’s society, I was very grateful to receive a copy to review as part of the blog tour. The book has everything I love about contemporary YA, there’s romance, friendship along with dramas about school and the future. But this particular YA has so much more than that, complex family issues that aren’t really explored much in YA, and Akemi has written them so well!

I read this book in a day, broke into two sittings of just a few hours, it was beautifully written, the story was told brilliantly through the words , I just couldn’t get enough, if it wasn’t for the fact that I needed to eat I probably would have just kept reading until it was finished. I was so sad when it ended, it’s a story that will stay with me for a long time.

It focuses on Kiko, a half white, half Asian teenager who seems to struggle with a lot of insecurities and anxieties. We can tell even from the beginning of the story that these mostly stem from her mother, who does not treat her children well at all. She really made me mad the whole way through the book!

Kiko focuses on her love of art, but when things don’t go to plan and her home life gets increasingly worse she sets on a new adventure really discovers her love of art and what she wants to do with it. She meets another artist who kind of adopts her into his family and teaches her a lot about her art. I loved how big of a part her art played throughout the story.

Even living miles and miles away from her mother, she still craves her approval, her affection or love, through phone calls we can still see the emotional hold she has over Kiko, it’s heartbreaking to read.

Kilo goes about finding her voice and the confidence she needs to use if. I really liked how she recognized that finding her confidence was something she had to do for herself, her transformation throughout the story was wonderful

I love how tough and fierce she becomes when she believes in herself, she’s had help over the summer, she’s developed her art skills and her social skills and it all plays out when she goes home, finally facing her mother.

Her relationship with Jamie was so lovely, I loved the romance side of the book, with romance being my favourite genre!

The ending was so lovely, when she finally got herself together and then sorted the rest of the things she needed too.

It was such a great story with so many important topics, the fact that she didn’t know much about her Asian side, that she disliked that side of her and then learned to embrace it, learning things she didn’t know about the culture, her clear struggle with self image and social anxiety was written so well, I know that so many people, including myself struggle with many of the issues in the book, thanks to Akemi for writing and portraying these things so well.

I would highly recommend this book!

Also thank you to Ink Road Books for the proof, it was by far the prettiest package I have received! 🙂

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