Starfish

Pub Date   |   Archive Date 26 Sep 2017

Member Reviews

When I first requested Akemi Dawn Bowman’s novel, Starfish, I didn’t really know much about it other than the fact that it had one of the most gorgeous book covers I’ve ever seen. I was completely unprepared for the emotional punch this book would pack. Covering a wide spectrum of heavy subjects such as sexual and emotional abuse as well as suicide, Starfish is not an easy read by any means, but ultimately it is a powerful story about discovering who you really are and what you want out of life. Starfish follows the story of Kiko Himura, a high school senior who suffers from social anxiety and therefore often has trouble expressing herself and fitting in. Kiko, however, is also a...

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I felt such a personal connection to Kiko, the main character. I'm not biracial, nor half-Japanese, but there was a whole lot about Kiko's life and personality that I related to so hard. It made the read that much more special to me, because it's not very often when I can say that a book is basically my life. *Kiko is a middle child *with two brothers *she's shy and quiet *awkward and has social anxiety *parties make her super anxious, and she feels better when she's got friends like Jamie and Emery around *feels weird for fangirling and showing her passion for things *is a dreamer and a creative type *doesn't like confrontation *but wants so badly for people to see her feelings...

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okay well I FREAKING LOVED THIS. IT WAS SO GOOD. AHHHHHHHHHH. SO MANY FREAKING STARS because as someone Asian, I connected to this too damn much. The main character, Kiko, is half white and half Japanese, and... I could relate to her insecure feelings about being Asian. In today's society (I say society too much tbh) one of the standards of beauty is white, tall, and skinny. IF YOU'RE NONE OF THOSE THINGS YOU ARE STILL BEAUTIFUL OKAY YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND THERE ARE DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF BEAUTy AND YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL OKAY? OKAY. *exhales* I really hate the impression that people have, that being skinny or being tall is equivalent to beauty- it is not. It is not. It is not...

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Ok I really connected with this book! I really loved Kiko I thought she was a really relatable character and the term starfish and what it was used for really mattered for me. Most YA books I've read with a "damaged" parental relationship almost always ends with the characters fixing or working on trying to fix there relationship. Which can be really frustrating for people like me who have discovered that not all relationships are fixable or worth fixing in the first place, It was really nice to be able to see my own situation in a book. Also I loved that Kiko was biracial and dealt with issues like where she fit in and I could really appreciate it since I am also biracial! I found quite a...

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This book messed me up in the best way. The writing is absolutely stunning. Just gorgeous and lyrical and so descriptive that I can almost see the art that Kiko describes. The characters were perfectly developed and the exploration of anxiety and self-image issues were so so well done. I cannot scream enough about how well done they were. There is no easy answer to both the mental health and coming of age struggles Kiko faces, but there is always hope and options and the author portrays this in such a realistic and healthy way I cannot praise it enough. As an abusive mother escapee, it was too easy to relate to Kiko’s struggle with her mother. That desperate need for the smallest token...

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Starfish is honest, brutal, and so fricken beautiful. Kiko is a half-Japanese/half-white seventeen-year-old living in Midwest suburbia. I can't even find the right words to truly express how much I wish I had this book as a teenager, and how I believe Starfish will help so many teens, especially Asian-Americans, right now. I'm half-Filipino/half-Mexican and I grew up in Midwest suburbia - most of my classmates were white and it was brutal growing up wishing I had blonde hair and blue eyes. It took me over 20 years before I embraced my heritage and reading Kiko's story completely broke me because I was where she was. She's struggling with her self-esteem, identity, and so much more (no...

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Guys, this book is everything. I’m not even going to bother giving a proper introduction to why I chose to request this book, what my initial thoughts were, blah blah blah. This book is the most gorgeous thing to ever exist. Yes, I’m being dramatic No, I’m not overreacting Don’t question me on this, just trust me, alright? Akemi Dawn Bowman, you’ve just got yourself a lifelong reader. I will read every book you ever come out with in the future because I know that if they’re even a fraction as wonderful as Starfish, I will be in love with it forever. Now onto my actual review because you all deserve to know why I love this book so much. Starfish follows Kiko, a...

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Trigger Warning: childhood sexual abuse, emotional abuse, anxiety, suicide attempt. This story is beautiful and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Starfish tells the story of Kiko Himura, a Japanese-American woman who deals with childhood trauma, social anxiety, and a narcissistic mother. This story really dives down deep into many difficult topics while still telling a story that is inspiring. Kiko has many struggles she deals with throughout the book and I am highly impressed by how this story is told, especially being a debut novel. Akemi Dawn Bowman writes a sad, yet beautiful story. I really loved the writing style of this book. The chapters were nice and short, just the way I...

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I’m the type of reader that has a tendency to become really attached to characters, especially the protagonist that we follow throughout the story. They either become a character who I can see myself being friends with, or a character who I can relate to in some way. With Kiko Himura, the protagonist in Starfish, it was different because I didn’t only see one or the other. This time… I saw me. And coming to that realization was equal parts terrifying and wondrous. I understood and identified with Kiko on such a deep and emotional level that I found it to be such a struggle to read the first half of the book because that is when we are first shown the unhealthy and destructive home-life...

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Hi. I read this book and I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START??? Starfish was so I incredibly beautiful. It's just that book WHERE YOU CAN'T EVEN. Words do not suffice at this point. What's the point of writing a review WHEN YOU CAN JUST READ THIS BOOK? I will try and fail, to review this book (but omg it's so much more than that). I have so much to say about this book BUT HOW DO I WRITE AGAIN? Let's start with our Main Character, Kiko, WHO IS HALF-ASIAN (half white). Can we just appreciate that for a moment? While I couldn't really relate to her feeling out of place because of being Japanese (London is very multicultural) but Kiko is SO GOD DAMN SWEET AND REALISTIC. She goes through SO...

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I can see how this book would appeal to teens, especially mixed-race teens who are struggling with being different in a homogeneous community. However, I didn't like a lot of the ableist language used, and the author never explicitly states that what happens with Kiko at the party is ALSO sexual assault. She keeps calling it her messed up first kiss--no.
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I read my first review on this book and knew immediately it was one I had to read. It was sad, beautiful, and so achingly real. I've often wondered how families of different cultures handled sharing these differences with their children. In this case, not well at all. Kiko's mom was a real piece of work and so, so familiar. Though the author never specifically said she was bipolar, from personal experience, I assumed so. I grew up with a sister who is dead on this starfish. This is such an apt description for a bipolar individual and so much better than "bat-shit crazy" (my description for her for the last 40+ years). Unfortunately, until about 10 years ago, I wasn't very familiar...

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This novel means so much to me. I had heard about it on social media, but at the same time I avoided all information on what this was about somehow thinking this was a fantasy novel along the way, but when I started reading and I got this heartfelt, emotional, and personal read I was floored. This book felt like it was speaking to me. Like it was written for me to open my eyes and to start to feel just that little bit more whole. Starfish is an absolutely gorgeous novel that is now my favorite read of 2017! Kiko is an artist with social anxiety. However she is so much more then that. Within these pages she took steps forward and then some steps back and she lived and she breathed and...

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Grade: B+ The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Sometimes difficult books are the easiest to read. Most of the topics Starfish covers are not easy ones, but I breezed right through the book and enjoyed every minute of it. I loved, loved, loved Kiko talking about her art and the positive influence of Hiroshi and his family. Every chapter (or almost every chapter) ended with a line about what Kiko drew in her sketchbook, and it was so poetic. I loved Kiko exploring Asian culture - Japanese and Chinese especially. I loved the little moments we got with her younger brother, Shoji, and her dad and his new family. Several characters got on my nerves at time, but they all felt so realistic. I...

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But some people are just starfish - they need everyone to fill the roles that they assign. Kiko's story is so tough to read at points - not only due to her childhood trauma, but also due to her struggles as a biracial young woman in a rural town. Her father is Japanese and her mother is white, and her mother has spent Kiko's entire life shaming her half-Asian appearance, name, and culture. She once told me she wished she had given me and my brothers more "traditional" names because she was "kind of over the Japanese thing." You know, because being Asian is a trend or something. On top of growing up with a narcissistic mother who has essentially ruined any chance at self-esteem Kiko...

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Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman is a beautifully written book of love, family and self-discovery. Kiko Himura is a half Japanese, half white 17 year old artist who is trying to find her place in the world. Being half Japanese for Kiko has always meant standing apart from everyone else, especially her blond haired, blue eyed mother whom she wishes would take notice of her. From the beginning of the book, we learn that Kiko's dream art school is Prism, a place that she can start fresh from a home life that isn't all she wants it to be. When she isn't accepted, we are taken along on this journey where we get to see Kiko grow and discover the person that she has buried deep within herself...

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This book is amazing. I could not get out of the story and I highly recommend reading it!
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TW: emotional abuse by a parent, childhood sexual abuse, anxiety/panic attacks, racism. I have to admit, reading some of this book was hard work because of how closely Kiko and her mother's relationship mirrors that one I had growing up. Being belittled, even when that person doesn't realize it and especially when they do, makes it difficult to survive sometimes. I had some flashbacks when Kiko's mother was being narcissitic and petty, reminding me of the past. I will say that as painful as those moments were, and I'd caution those with emotional abuse in their past when reading Starfish, Akemi Dawn Bowman wrote them very authentically. It's easy to see the affect that Kiko's mother's...

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A little slow to start, Starfish took my own self-confidence and rattled it around. Kiko has confidence issues and social anxiety that stem from a past trauma and an unloving, racist mother. So when she distances herself from her toxic home, she starts to find parts of herself in California, with the help of her childhood friend Jamie. The romance subplot didn't draw me in (though usually I'm a sucker for friends to lovers romances) and any time there was romantic screen time, I felt like I just wanted to get a move on. I was mostly interested in Kiko's growth into a braver, more confident person. The portrayal of anxiety was the best I've ever seen. I don't suffer from as intense...

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I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING. If I could give this book more than 5 stars, I probably would. It was raw and beautiful, and I'm not sure I've ever shipped anyone as hard as I shipped Kiko and Jamie. I love them. I loved Kiko's growth and journey. And I especially love that a lot of the story is about Kiko trying to come to terms with her own identity. I needed this story when I was in high school, when I was trying to figure out who I was. I'm so happy this book exists. Really, I am crying. Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. Full review to come on my blog. I'll probably still be crying when I write it. ❤
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