Starfish, Akemi Bowman

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“I draw the sun teaching the moon how to shine”

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. 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. 

* * *
3 / 5

Starfish gave me very mixed feelings. On the one hand, my brain thought wowwhat an absolute rollercoaster, but on the other hand I felt a bit disappointed. Mostly by the romance. It was weird and made me feel a bit uncomfortable.

Kiko Himura has a really rough life. She’s got social anxiety, she’s got an abusive mother, she’s got a horrible history with her uncle, and she’s got a dream to go to Prism, a prestigious art school. When that dream is dashed to pieces by a rejection letter, Kiko is lost. Then her childhood friend Jamie comes back into her life with an offer to stay with his family and to tour art schools on the West Coast, and Kiko accepts.

The mother I’ve always wanted isn’t real; she’s a dream. And not every dream comes true

I really, really felt for Kiko. Her life seriously sucks. Nothing she does is ever good enough for her controlling, mood-switching and racist mother; Kiko feels like she is drowning in her current life. I had a lot of sympathy for her character, but I also felt like the novel was overly dark. It was too dark for my tastes – it felt like I was drowning alongside Kiko in a pit of despair and darkness and anxiety. The right person could definitely find a lot to relate to in this book, but I was clearly not the right person.

I loved the role that art had in the novel. Her work was described so visually and it had such an important place in the plot; I loved the relationship between Kiko and her artwork, especially once she finds a mentor on the West Coast.

I don’t want to be a branch in someone else’s life anymore – I want to be the tree on my own

Starfish is a book with the potential to mean so much to the right reader. For me, Starfish was just depressing the whole way through with the vibes of a “saviour romance” that I felt was a bit inappropriate for the story and the themes.

My thanks to Netgalley for an ARC of this book.

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