Book review: Starfish

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

From Goodreads

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.

This is a great YA contemporary and I really enjoyed it. I was having a hard time collecting my thoughts and writing them coherently, so I’ve left it in point form.

What I liked:

  • I wanted to keep reading it. I was engaged in the story and Kiko’s self-discovery, and I loved reading about her art. I was never bored reading it and I never felt like I had to skim-read it. If I could, I would just read a never-ending book about her life working with the artist (who’s name I forget right now I’m sorry)
  • I loved the side characters. Even though I don’t remember their names (I’M SORRY) I really thought they added to the story and I really enjoyed them.
  • I liked the portrayal of social anxiety and could 100% relate. There were so many times when Kiko was talking about how awkward she felt in social situations, and I could relate 100%, especially when she was hyperaware of her hands. That’s something I ALWAYS notice about myself and where a lot of my social anxiety comes from.
  • I liked the art aspect of it. It was super interesting and I thought it was done really well.
  • I liked Kiko’s dad and his wife. I thought he was a super realistic character and I really like him.

Worse parts:

  • Jamie (if that’s his name?) was forgettable. I’M SORRY I just didn’t think he was all that special? I wasn’t the biggest fan of him ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • The mom is too much of a caricature and it was hard to feel bad for Kiko at points because the mom’s behaviour was so unbelievable? This one is hard to articulate what I mean but I just didn’t understand Kiko’s reactions to her mom. Like, if you know that your mom isn’t interested in being your friend etc., then why do you think she will be this time? I think my biggest issue was her mom wasn’t developed as a character and it was therefore hard to understand her intentions and such, so I didn’t feel bad for Kiko a lot. Soz
  • I just didn’t totally click with it? Like I mentioned above, I enjoyed reading it and liked the story. But it just didn’t totally click, y’know?

Overall, I highly recommend it. It has great representation, it’s interesting to read, and the characters are great for the most part. It just didn’t blow me away.

Have you read Starfish? What were your thoughts?? Let me know!!!

Thanks for reading xx

16 thoughts on “Book review: Starfish

  1. Interesting, I like how you balance the positives and negatives of this book. I know what you mean, though, about not feeling bad for the main character because the antagonist is so unbelievable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That cover is so gorgeous! And the synopsis sounds interesting. I’ve never read a book that dealt with social anxiety before. This is going on my wishlist… Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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