Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

29456598Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Borrowed
Published: September 26th, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Mental Health, Art, Family Relationships, Romance, Coming of Age


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.


This book hit home for me. It hit home hard.

I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but at some point I wasn’t reading about Kiko Himura anymore. I was reading about myself.

I know what it’s like to have a parent who criticizes you day and night – not just your appearance, actions and personality, but also your dreams, hobbies and even the friends you hang out with.

I know what that’s like because I have a parent like that. It doesn’t matter how skinny I am, someone who judges continuously will always find fault to my body. And it doesn’t matter how sweet I try to be or how hard I try in life in general.

It. Will. Never. Be. Enough.

Because these kinds of people are unable to stop trying to ‘‘improve’’ you to fit their own pre-existing standards. You can talk to them. You can argue with them. You can shout at them. It won’t transform them into the perfect parent – the parent you’ve always wished for.

So what can you do? You have to build yourself a thicker skin, and you can stop trying to change that person, too. Don’t argue with them. It’s not worth it. You’ll only worsen your already precarious relationship. If the latter is so unhealthy it kills you inside, you have to get away. You simply have to. But depending on your situation, if they are receptive enough, I do encourage having a civil and calm discussion.

Fortunately, in my case, I can still make it work with the parent. I’ve learned that telling them about my personal life goals is not the best idea, seeing that we view the world so differently and my interests and theirs do not intertwine.

The reason I can make it work is because I’ve also realized that that parent needs love, and that I need their love as well. They and my brother are all I have here, in this country, family-wise. I don’t know why I keep referring to the parent as ‘‘they,’’ since I mentioned in other reviews that my father died when I was a baby. I’m clearly referring to my own mother.

If you want to read a lyrical story about a girl struggling with her self-image, lack of confidence, social anxiety and inability to connect with her family members – especially her mother – you’re barking at the right tree.

I make it sound harrowing and overwhelmingly affective. It’s actually not. Instead, it’s sad but very heartfelt and wonderfully hopeful at the same time, and contains just the right amount of romance. Jamie is a sweetheart – you’ll love him instantly. Same goes for Kiko Himura. Such an unforgettable heroine.


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4 thoughts on “Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

  1. Pingback: The Liebster Award: Discovering New Blogs – Whit Reads Lit

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