Hello, lovelies! Hope you all are having a lovely week. Today I am reviewing a book I read in March that was absolutely incredible and beautiful and hit all the right notes. That book is Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, and I am so excited to share it with you!
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publication Date: September 26th 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Where did I get this book?: my local library!
Summary: A half-Japanese teen grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school in this debut novel.
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.
(Trigger warning: toxic parental relationship, suicide attempt, emotional and sexual abuse, racism.)
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Before I picked up Starfish, I had seen it floating around bookstagram with lots of good reviews and praise. I borrowed it from the library, knowing little about the story besides it being about an artist in a family that doesn’t really feel like family. I had no idea what to expect, but from page one, I was hooked.
Starfish was moving, strong and delicate, with characters to love and characters to, well, definitely have a reason to dislike. The story was honest and breathtaking. I seriously don’t have the words. I think this book was kinda healing.
So, something in the book that I share with Kiko is a lack of self esteem and self worth when it comes to how I see myself in the mirror. Half of this stems from her feeling of not belonging to either White or Asian, half from her anxiety and what people think of her. And oh boy, the anxiety rep is on point. I felt it so bad. Kiko was incredibly real to me, and I wanted to give her a big hug. If you have anxiety, I definitely recommend this book.
There were lots of lines that I loved in Starfish, and one of them was this:
“I don’t have to be white to be beautiful, just like I don’t have to be Asian to be beautiful. Because beauty doesn’t come in one mold.”Starfish, Akemi Dawn Bowman
So, reading those were just healing to me. Seeing Kiko’s journey to accepting herself gave me my own chance to start accepting myself. After reading this book, I looked at myself a little differently and a little more confidently. And that, I feel, is the most important part of a book – when you see parts of yourself in a character and realize you’re not alone.
Next, I love the fact that Kiko is an artist. The way the art is described is just…wow. It’s so beautiful. I can almost see her artwork in my head. I really enjoyed the little lines at the end of each chapter, describing what she has created in her artwork. A major part of her identity is being a creative. I loved that Bowman added these lines. Some were so profound, while others were melancholy or sweet or very sad.
“I draw a girl without a face, drawing somebody else’s face onto her own reflection.”Starfish, Akemi Dawn Bowman
So, bottom line is that I adored this book. It positively impacted me, and I fell in love with the beautiful characters with all their big, heartbreaking feelings. Read. This. Book. I highly doubt you’ll regret diving into this one.
To find more books I love that feature mental health reps, search the mental health category on my blog!
Have you read Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman? What were your thoughts? Do you have any favorite books with mental health reps?