author: akemi dawn bowman
“Things aren’t black and white, hot and cold, happy and sad. They’re complicated. Feelings are complicated.
what it’s about:
kiko himura has a big dream. She wants to get into her dream art school to get away from her life. to get away from her troubled mother, her troubled family and all the problems, she can’t deal with anymore. she wants to be on her own and life a new life. but sometimes getting what you want isn’t that easy and when kiko is confronted with her biggest fears, she needs to decide what to do. she gets some help from her childhood best friend, who comes back at the right time in her life.
what i think:
do you know the feeling, when you look on your bookshelves, see a certain book and just want to pick it up? that’s what happened to me with “starfish” by akemi dawn bowman. i have already started many books but when i saw “starfish”, it was calling to me. so i picked it up. several hours later i was finished. i loved it.
first of all, the cover is amazing. i love the jellyfish and the turtle and it is definitely a cover, that made me pick up this book. after reading the first sentences i knew that i would love this book. the writing is magical. it totally drew me into the story and didn’t let me go. there were so many amazing quotes and metaphors, that i was literally saying “awww” all the time out loud. the writing is perfect throughout this book and i got lost in it.
then there is kiko. i loved her from the beginning. she was this vulnerable character, that i wanted to hug. but i didn’t need much time to figure out, that she is a very strong character too. i have no idea, where this girl takes her strength, but i was fascinated by her from the beginning. i wanted to protect her but by the end i knew, that she doesn’t need protection. and that’s the good part, because kiko has social anxiety, which was portrayed very good in this book. sometimes i totally got, what she was feeling and to some degree i could absolutely relate to her. the social anxiety part was portrayed in a way, that it gave you goosebumps, because every one of us experiences this to some degree. and i loved how she said “no”. she told the truth about what she was feeling and that was amazing. she needed some time to get to that point, but it was done so well. i was very proud of kiko in the end. everything she did made her only stronger and her development was amazing.
another very well done part was the whole family aspect. now, i wish that nobody in this world has to experience what kiko experiences at home with her mother. i am not even talking about what happened with her uncle, i am talking about her mother. i wanted to punch her like in every conversation she had with kiko. this woman made me furious. i hated her. so, so, much. this isn’t normal and this woman has so many problems. and i absolutely can see, where kiko and her brothers get their characteristics. i was very sad, that she couldn’t connect with her brothers, but i totally get, why this isn’t possible. that woman didn’t make it possible and i was crying and shouting so many times, because i got so emotionally involved in that family story. i can’t even describe, how many emotions i felt throughout this book. i am just happy, that it ended the way it did. it wasn’t exaggarated at all and i think that it was resolved very well.
another very beautiful part of this book was the friendship between kiko and jamie. yes, there were feelings involved and i was afraid, that this would be a story, where love heals everything. but it wasn’t and that’s what i loved about it. jamie is a phenomenal character. i love him so, so much. he isn’t pushy. he protects kiko, he is there for her and he listens to her. he never forced her to do anything and some gestures just melted my heart. this guy. ❤ i am so in love with him. but as i said. this wasn’t the typical love story and things happen, but the way kiko deals with them are wonderful. that was exactly what i wanted her to do and i am very proud of her for what she accomplished and how she developed. the ending was perfect!
as you can see, i can’t find one thing that is negative in this book. even the cultural aspect was done so well. i could relate to kiko in every way and understood how she was feeling because of her mom and her past. the way she experiences new things that make her feel whole made me cry. i was so happy for her and the joy she felt went straight through me. it was amazing. the fact, that i read this book in one sitting also speaks for itself.
what you should know:
“starfish” by akemi dawn bowman is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story about a girl who doesn’t know where she belongs to. she just wants to get away and find her own way and live her dream as a painter. to overcome her fears. not to depend on anybody and be free of her dark past. it is emotional and will definitely make you cry. you will feel so many different feelings while reading this book. keep in mind, that these could be trigger warnings: sexual abuse, familiar abuse and social anxiety. but even though it’s dark at some points and you will be frustrated, you come out of this book lighter and happy and positive. i recommend it to every young adult contemporary fan out there.