Lyrical, Diverse, Poignant // ARC Review: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Title: Starfish
Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon and Schuester)
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Simpon Pulse vie NetGalley
Buy Links: Amazon US || Barnes and Noble || The Book Depository || Wordery || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo ||

Blurb Description: 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.
There are some books out there that you just connect with on every level, and Akemi Dawn Bowan’s Starfish was one of those for me. 

Before I begin, I would like to that the Cover Gods for coming up with the ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL Starfish cover because everything about this cover works for this book and AAH. It’s just so pleasing to look at. 
“I draw a girl on a plane, leaving her heart on the runway.”

There was absolutely nothing I didn’t like about this book, so let’s talk about all the things I did love:

1. Our Biracial Protagonist:
 Kiko is half American, half Japanese and from the very first page you can see her struggling with the image of beauty that her mother has drilled into her. She struggles to fall in love with the person she sees in the mirror, she struggles with anxiety, she struggles with her heritage versus just wanting to be “normal” which as an Indian is SO RELATABLE to me. I connected with Kiko, and fell for her instantly because her voice is raw, honest and most importantly, real.
“I draw water and fire, forgetting all the rules and morphing into something new.”

2. THE ART: I don’t talk about it one the internet much, but I’m also an artist. I’m nowhere near as talented as Kiko, but I can paint. When I feel like it. The words used by Akemi Bowan to describe Kiko’s art brought it to life in a way I’ve never seen done before. All the quotes are Akemi bringing to life her imaginings of Kiko’s art, because I thought you should see how BEAUTIFUL it was to read for me. 
“I draw a thousand fairies circling around a girl so she can finally fly away.”

3. THE CHARACTER GROWTH: Three chapters into this book, I felt like I knew Kiko. I understood what it was like to be her, socially awkward and all. I loved how she blossomed and started gambling on herself more as the book progressed and by the end, she actually said out loud what she kept inside before. It was like a caterpillar learning to become a butterfly and I LOVED IT. 

“I draw five Japanese women with very different faces, but all of them are equally beautiful because beauty is not just one thing.”

4. HIROSHI AND JAMIE: Now, they’re not love interests, this book DOESN’T HAVE a love triangle, but they’re both such SPECTACULAR characters. Hiroshi is an artist who takes Kiko under his wing, introduces her to his Japanese family and shows her what unconditional love is. Jamie, on the other hand, is her childhoos best friend with his blue eyes and kind smile. They’re both such perfect people, and exactly the supportive, kind people that Kiko needed and I fell in love with them too. 

A lyrical, gorgeously written, poignant diverse book about loving yourself, growing up and first love. 


Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish. 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.

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What are some of your favourite diverse books of the year?
What are some of your favourite books that have art in it? 
Have you had the chance to read Starfish yet? What did you think of it?

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