Read Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman Online


Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what shes thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesnt 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 doesnt 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....

Title : Starfish
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 40611543
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 353 pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Starfish Reviews

  • Trevor

    So. Many. Tears.


  • destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    But some people are just starfish - they need everyone to fill the roles that they assign.

    Kiko's story is so tough to read at points - not only due to her childhood trauma, but also due to her struggles as a biracial young woman in a rural town. Her father is Japanese and her mother is white, and her mother has spent Kiko's entire life shaming her half-Asian appearance, name, and culture.

    She once told me she wished she had given me and my brothers more "traditional" names because she was "kind

  • may ➹

    I read this book in September, and wrote my review at the same time. Then I rewrote my review in February. It’s been two months since I rewrote my review, but I couldn’t bring myself to ever post it before now.

    And I’m not exactly sure why?

    I think it’s because this book means a. lot. to me, and writing my review was hard, because I found so much of myself in Kiko that it hurt. Because Kiko is a character who struggles for so long to find herself worthy or beautiful… and her thoughts hit too close


    Kiko is a biracial Japanese-American girl with anxiety who loves to make art. She’s honestly… such a well-written character? I can’t remember much since I read this a couple of months ago, but I remember that she was just a soft, kind girl. I just related to so SO much of her and she’ll always have a special place in my heart. I literally feel all kinds of fuzzy warmness whenever I think of her.

    (I can’t speak about the biracial rep, but from other ownvoices reviews I’ve read, it seems pretty good! The biracial rep is also ownvoices.)

    Jamie is a character I’m really mixed on. On one hand, he’s a very sweet guy who loves Kiko a lot. (And their relationship is slowburn friends-to-lovers whicH IS MY FAVORITE.) On the other hand, he kind of seemed way too perfect and REALLY REALLY close to being a cure for Kiko. It definitely was not a “love cures all” thing, but it could have been, and that makes me feel a little iffy.

    Kiko’s mom is Kiko’s abuser, and she says some horribly harmful and racist things that actually make me want to choke her, especially being a part of the group of people she’s being racist to. There were some issues with her being written as if she were mentally ill, which is pretty problematic (along with other things that I’ll later talk about).

    The other side characters were fantastic. I loved seeing the healthy female friendship between Kiko and Emy, and I also loved the mentor-student relationship between Hiroshi and Kiko! I wish I could’ve seen more from the side characters, especially in how they played into Kiko’s healing, but I think what we saw from them was really great.

    🌷 PLOT

    This book has a very character-driven plot, but I was super engaged the entire time. It really, to me, is about Kiko trying to heal from her mother’s abuse and find herself—discover her identity. There was something so poignant about Kiko’s story in trying to find who she was and learn that she was beautiful in her own way, and doing all this while recovering from the effects of someone who told her that who she was really wasn’t worth it or beautiful.


    The writing KILLED ME. Something about Bowman’s writing is so lyrical and beautiful and draws me in. There were some lines, especially the ones that were describing Kiko’s art that were just absolutely gorgeous and actually made me pause and reread the lines.

    I draw five humans and one skeleton, and it doesn’t matter that the skeleton has all the right bones and joints—he will never be the same as the others because he doesn’t have the right skin.

    I don’t want to need him anymore. I want to stand on my own two feet. I want control of my own life and my own emotions. I don’t want to be a branch in someone else’s life anymore—I want to be the tree on my own.

    I draw a girl with arms that reach up to the clouds, but all the clouds avoid her because she’s made of night and not day.

    I am SO!! IN!! LOVE!! WITH!! HER!! WRITING!!!!

    🌷 REPRESENTATION (a really long and super personal rant)

    All right, here we go.

    What makes this book so so incredibly important to me is the Asian rep. This book is literally THE best representation of myself as an Asian that I’ve read before, and it captures so much of what it means, to me, to be Asian in a white society. And I’m not even Japanese or biracial like Kiko.

    It talks about how Kiko feels like she can’t be pretty because she isn’t white (enough). It talks about how beauty has been molded by her mother into something that can only belong to her if she isn’t Asian. These ideas that an Asian person (or any person of color) has to be white to be deemed beautiful are messed up, not true at all, and horribly harmful. But they’re things I’ve thought. And it hurts so much, because I KNOW I’ve thought these things, and still continue to think them. I recognize so many times in the past where I’ve caught myself thinking “it’d be better if I was white” or “I wish I was white” or “I’d be prettier if I was white”. But I never actually… thought they were harmful??? Which kind of makes me want to cry.

    And I think that’s the part that hits me the most with the Asian rep: These thoughts that Kiko have about beauty—they’re the thoughts I’ve had, the thoughts I continue to have, despite knowing they’re not true and hurtful things to be thinking. And reading this book was putting words to something I was unable to say. It was recognizing the harm I’d been unintentionally doing to myself, influenced by other people, but it was knowing that I wasn’t the only one to struggle through it. Kiko was literally ABUSED for not being white (enough), and gradually healed to think herself as beautiful, and that is so, SO empowering.

    Beauty is such a subjective matter, and a pretty superficial matter, but it’s extremely important in our society today. And when you don’t fit into the conventional standards of beauty and everyone around you who is deemed pretty doesn’t look like you, you can’t really think of yourself as “beautiful”. And that’s exactly what resonates with me and makes this book one of my favorites. Because these kind of things—not fitting in, the people you see versus the person you are, and how it all affects self-esteem—make up the basis of not being white in a society where white is the norm, and this book tackles it perfectly.

    I even face different beauty standards in my own race!! East Asians, who are the people who most think of when seeing or hearing the word “Asians”, value light skin over darker skin. I’m from Thailand, which is in Southeast Asia, and I have darker skin than what East Asians have. My skin tone is literally viewed as not as beautiful in my own race!!! Not being white is bad enough, but some people of my own race thinking that I am not “as beautiful” because of the shade of my skin? It sucks. (Not to mention that I still don’t really fit in with either Southeast Asians or East Asians skin-color-wise because I’m somewhere in between that light and dark skin tone.)

    Being a person of color in a society where white is what’s socially accepted is so… difficult. People will always be prejudiced towards me, and every Asian, and every person of color. Even in certain cultures were Asian is the norm, people will still be prejudiced towards me. But this book shows us all that we are all beautiful, even if it’s hard to believe, even if you are told otherwise, even if everyone societally deemed “pretty” doesn’t look even similar to you. And that’s why this book is so empowering for every Asian and every person of color.

    (Of course, there were other aspects of the rep that I found well-done, but this was what meant the most to me.)

    (And I know it sounds kind of cliche or superficial to say “we’re all beautiful!!!!” but Western beauty standards made and STILL make me have low self-esteem so ???)

    (Another note: Most of what I was talking about above referred to Southeast/East Asians, since that’s how I identify as. If West or South Asians—or any POC, actually, since we’re all affected by Western beauty standards—can find themselves represented in this book, that’s amazing!!! But this review is just talking about my personal experiences as a Southeast Asian.)

    In addition to the BEAUTIFUL Asian rep, this book also had amazing anxiety rep, also some of the best I’ve read. Kiko’s anxiety was portrayed very realistically and I related so much to it. This rep is ownvoices as well!

    I also want to mention that there were quite a few problems with the abuse rep that I will fully admit to completely missing when I read this. I can’t speak for how the abuse was portrayed, but there were definitely unquestionably problematic aspects, which Elise explains in a fantastically written review, so please please read her review! (Note: The abuse rep was ownvoices.)

    This book is a book that’s extremely close to my heart. It of course has amazing characters and writing and is such a compelling, beautiful story. But most of all, it has the best portrayal of an (East) Asian character I’ve ever read, and it made me realize things about myself that I knew existed but never really recognized. And that means the world to me.

    :: rep :: biracial Japanese-American socially anxious female MC (abuse survivor), other biracial Japanese-American siblings, Japanese art mentor

    :: content warning :: parental emotional abuse, sexual abuse, suicide attempt, racism

    Thank you to Simon and Schuster for generously providing me with a beautiful review copy! This did not affect my opinion in any way.

    All quotes were taken from an advanced copy and may differ in the final publication.

  • Masooma

    Starfish is a novel of love and loss. Love comes in its typical form, a guy that a teenager meets and falls head over heels for. Loss, however, doesn’t come in its cliché form. Instead, it comes in the form of loss of confidence, which, in my view, is momentous and needed to be covered in a novel.

    Kiko Himura is a quiet teenager who remains wrapped in her bubble of social anxiety. It’s hard for her to deal with people or indulge in interactions without her social crutch, her best friend. Her anx

  • alice (arctic books)

    God, this was so fucking beautiful. This was everything I didn't know I wanted and more. RTC

  • may ❀

    Let’s all just pretend I came up with some good, clean, coherent introduction that summarizes my thoughts on this book bc we all know that im not capable of doing that

    So instead we list


    - This was amazing

    - This was fantastic

    - This was so real I was just screaming for hours on end

    - Idk how but the author uses words SOOOOOOOOO well to describe how suffocating and irrational but totally REAL anxiety can be and how IT LITERALLY CAN HAPPEN FOR NO REASON and that just like :| makes everything

  • Sprinkled Pages

    actual rating: 4.5 stars

    hOLY CRAPS WAS THIS MAGNIFICENT. it had such a powerful message and was so well written and even though it's a book and not art, you can visualise the art SO SO well. kiko is so complex and beautiful and she is so strong. there were times where my heart hurt reading this book and i wanted to reach through and just give her a hug.

    this tackled so many different issues such as sexual abuse, racism, toxic parental relationships, biraciality JUST SO MUCH I AM IN AWE. i cannot

  • Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)

    I'm on the promotional blog tour for Starfish, head over to my blog to see the full post: https://marriedtobooksreviewsandblog....

    Follow me on Instagram where I take photos of book everyday!:

    First of all, the representation for Anxiety in Starfish was just… very well done. I have an anxiety disorder and finding stories with main characters in that have anxiety with great representation is a massive struggle. Some of the topics within the novel (sexual abu