Starfish tells a story about a young half Japanese woman Kiko, and her emotional journey of self discovery and strength as she struggles to cope with being rejected from her dream art school, Prism. With her best friend, Emery, leaving town, Kiko loses her crutch and starts to make the first steps into the world on her own, and her less than understanding, and self absorbed mother doesn’t make it any easier for her. Gradually as the story is told, Kiko learns about the true meaning of beauty, friendship, and family and finds a strength in her she didn’t realise she had, but was there all along.
“I feel weird just standing there listening. Do other people do that? Move from circle to circle, socialising with everyone like they all know each other? It seems invasive. I don’t know the rules.”
This novel is told from Kiko’s point of view, which I absolutely loved. So much of what she said resonated so strongly with me, particularly when she describes and draws about her experience with social anxiety. The anxiety was represented beautifully, and there were so many points in the book where I felt it was echoing exactly the sorts of things I’ve felt. In my head, I was mentally saying. “This is me. This is me. I’ve been there,” so many times, which made the whole story all the more poignant and personal.
I love the little descriptions of her sketches at the ends of the chapters an seeing how they evolved as Kiko grows as a person and learns about how to be strong and deal with her hideous mother which has had such a strangling and suffocating effect on her, and her siblings.
I adored that as the story progressed, she was self aware enough to realise that she needed to do a bit of healing, on her own. That Jamie can’t ‘save’ her, and before she can let people into her life, and love them, she needs to learn to accept and love herself,
This book is just beautiful and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
* This ebook ARC was provided by Black & White Publishing through NetGalley for an honest review.
5 / 5 stars
Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster) and Summer Bird Blue (Fall 2018). 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.
She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.