Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

My Rating: All the Stars in the universe!

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publish Date: September 26th, 2017

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon


A gorgeous and emotionally resonant debut novel about a half-Japanese teen who grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school.

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.


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 thought deeply about life and what she wants for herself, and how she wants to see life. Kiko was so achingly human and she was so real you almost felt like you could touch her soul.

What hit me most was Kiko’s mother. A mother like my Grandmother who had adopted me when I was a baby. It is uncanny how much the words that Kiko’s mother said mirrored the words my own grandmother has told me so many times before. It is insane to think that the author could have captured the essence of the woman who had caused me so much pain in the pages of this story without even knowing it. It made me feel this story in my bones in a way that I have never felt a story before. It filled me with anger when the mother in this book said certain things and it filled me with my own brewing of things I always wanted to say to my own grandmother that were truths never gone to light. However, I have never felt such peace at the end of a story as this one and I never felt such healing, because this is a story for those who know what it is like to live with a starfish and who know that emotional abuse can cause just as many scars though they may always go unseen.

This book is like poetry to me, especially the descriptions of paintings Kiko creates at the end of each chapter. Those descriptions often gave me goosebumps. They showed most of all how Kiko felt on the inside and I don’t know how she made every emotion good or bad turn into something beautiful.

This book is about family and it is about discovering that beauty has more then one definition. It is about dreaming and chasing those dreams and being who you are unapologetically no matter what. This book is so many amazing things and by the end as Kiko is transformed so are you.

Thanks for reading! PLEASE READ THIS BOOK! It is such an important read and there is something to take away from it for every person that reads it. Reading this book is a truly personal journey and I hope that this book is accepted into the world with open arms.

-Till next time!

7 thoughts on “Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman: A Review

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