Make sure to check out our dual review, the pre-order incentive, and the awesome giveaway at the bottom of the post!
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.
First we would like to thank the publisher for providing us with an advanced copy of Starfish for an honest review.
We are so excited to bring you this duo review because Allison and I come from different backgrounds. Allison read this book and recommended that I read it and that I see how I felt about it. We thought it would be fun to share our different perspectives on a diverse book.
Starfish is a heartbreaking story that covers so many relatible issues that I can’t imagine that someone won’t be able to pick up this book and see themselves in it. If you don’t relate, than it is such a moving portrayal on how someone might feel in the situation as a minority. This book deals with a girl who is of a minority (half-Japanese), and feels alone, shamed by her mother, she has a terrible home life, is sexually assaulted, and rejected at school by peers.
Through all of this we see her strength and good qualities too. Kiko is a great friend, she is amazingly talented, and she is beautiful. The problem is Kiko needs to learn to believe in herself and get away from the poison that is constantly breaking her down. Her friendships with Emery and Jamie remain her lifeline.
Will Kiko find away to fight for herself and her dreams? Will Kiko learn to stop making excuses for her moms hurtful actions? You have to read this powerful book to find out!
Starfish was a book that I related to on an emotional level as someone who went through somethings as a young person and had family issues, it caused me to not deal well in social settings either. I tended to deal better with one or two close friends. I would panic about not knowing what to expect from a social setting or situation ahead of time too. I may not have related to it all but it was a beautifully written book and I hope so many read it because it helps show how powerful words can be and how lonely people can feel. I just absolutely loved this book and I am giving it 5 out 5 stars and this is one of my favorite debuts of this year!
I have been looking forward to Starfish since I heard about it last year. I quickly reached out to Akemi and told her how much I would be looking forward to her debut and I was really surprised that she sent me a copy when she got her author copies! I am so thankful for her and her constant friendship- even though she lives so far from me! I saw that she was promoting her book tour for Starfish and I quickly signed up.
Starfish is a breathtaking, beautiful, and honest look at an individual with social anxiety, a less than ideal family life, and a yearning for individuality and being heard. Kiko is an introverted character that is Japanese-American and all she wants is to be loved and noticed by those around her including her narcissistic mother. She is an artist and she lets her feelings out through her art. Her mother has always been very rude to her and her brothers and she comments on Kiko’s appearance constantly.
Jamie has always been one of Kiko’s best friends but he moved away and they grew apart. Jamie was always one of the only people that understood Kiko and really respected her for who she was. They had a special bond, but with the long distance they could not keep in contact. Kiko’s childhood friend, Jamie, comes back into the picture after moving to California and their friendship quickly rebuilds.
Kiko’s Japanese father divorced her mother after an affair and Kiko resented him for it for as long as she can remember. She grew up to side with her mother, but really missed her father. After her parents divorced her mother resented everything Japanese. There was this whole part of Kiko’s culture that she was missing out on because her mother’s attitude toward Kiko’s father.
After so much time taking in what Kiko’s mother says to her and the constant berating she finally decides to take some time for herself and go with Jamie to Los Angeles. Kiko’s goal is to make it into Prism for an art program and she was rejected so in Los Angeles she visits other places and learns that Prism might not be the right path for her in the end. Along her summer of growth and new opportunities, she learns to open herself up to love and be herself.
Kiko’s relationships with both of her brothers is very similar to the relationship I have with my brothers. We are all similar and close, but we are all very independent. We all do our own thing and don’t really spend time with each other. I really connected with Kiko in this way as well as in personality.
I completely 100% understand Kiko and relate to her on every level possible. Starfish is the book that I needed to read in high school. I was always very introverted and did not like to express my own opinions. I often said “sorry” for things that weren’t my fault. I would go along with what everyone else wanted because I didn’t want my friends to be upset with me. As I got older and started doing my own thing I learned that I should let go of that and not rely on my friends as much. I started following my own path and discovered so much about myself similar to how Kiko was finally able to break away from her mother and find herself in Los Angeles.
Overall, Starfish is a beautiful read that everyone should read. So many people can relate to Kiko in the same way that I did. I am really looking forward to more books from Akemi and I cannot thank her enough for writing Starfish and letting it out in the world.
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.
Make sure to check out the rest of the tour for more great content!
Blog Tour Schedule
September 22, 2017
Ceillie – Candid Ceillie – Author Interview
Jacquie – Rattle the Stars – Aesthetic/Mood Board
Lili – Utopia State of Mind – Giveaway
Michelle – Magical Reads – Author Interview
Rachel – Life of a Female Bibliophile – Giveaway
September 23, 2017
Morgan + Allison – Take Me Away To A Great Read – Giveaway
Breeny – Breeny’s Books – Author Interview
Brooke – The Layaway Dragon – Giveaway
Angela – Books of a Shy Girl – Music Playlist
Tia – CT Callahan – Giveaway
Heather – The Hermit Librarian – Music Playlist
Wendy – Whatthelog – Author Interview
September 24, 2017
Laura – Green Tea & Paperbacks – Music Playlist
Danielle – PoetryBooksYA – Music Playlist
Jessica – CrumbCatBooks – Giveaway
Carolin – Between the Pages – Author Interviews
Mina – My Fangirl Chronicles – Giveaway
Savanah – Off-Color Literature – Author Interview
September 25, 2017
Mishma – Chasing Faerytales – Giveaway
Cindy – Cindy Baldwin Books – Author Interview
Bri – Bri’s Book Blog – Music Playlist
Kelly – Audeamus. Let us dare. – Giveaway
Marianne – Boricuan Bookworm – Giveaway
Samantha – A History of Books – Music Playlist
September 26, 2017
Inge – Of Wonderland – Giveaway
Rebekka – Rooted in Fiction – Music Playlist
Imani – Introvert Problems – Author Interview
Jackie – Too Much of a Booknerd – Giveaway
Rachel – Rachie Reads – Music Playlist