Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I was drawn to it by the beautiful cover and unique title. I noticed this book had fairly positive reviews on goodreads so I was hopeful that I would enjoy it. Unfortunately I found it fairly disappointing in some ways, however there are also positive aspects.
Starfish is about Kiko, an aspiring artist with half-Japanese heritage and a neglectful mother. Kiko’s application to study in the World famous art school, Prism, is rejected and this results in a huge shift in her life. When her abusive uncle moves back in, Kiko jumps at the opportunity to move in with a childhood friend a few states over. Starfish is Kiko’s personal journey from an introvert with sometimes severe anxiety to a brave girl who stands up for what she believes in.
I loved how the author ended each chapter with a description of what the MC is drawing. I felt connected to Kiki and understood how she was feeling even if her actual emotions weren’t mentioned.
“I draw a girl living on the edge of a crescent moon, staring down at the earth and not missing it at all.”
Another aspect of the book that I connected with was the ‘What I said. What I actually wanted to say.’ aspect. As a shy introvert I fully sympathised with Kiki whenever she held her tongue during confrontations or arguments.
Kiki is an introvert, as am I, her anxieties during social situations are the anxieties I face and sometimes struggle to overcome. I thoroughly enjoy reading books with imperfect MC who struggle daily with social anxiety as it makes me feel less alone in this big World.
Now, on to the parts of this book that I struggled to understand or appreciate. Kiki reconnects with a childhood friend who offers her the opportunity to visit art schools on the west coast while she stays with him & his family. Considering Kiki doesn’t even visit or stay with her own father often as it might upset her mother, completely moving out of the house seems very inconsistent. As well as being a very difficult decision for someone with such social anxiety struggles as Kiki.
Secondly, the romance in this book is so annoying. I do wish more contemporary books didn’t include unnecessary romance. Starfish should have focused solely on Kiki’s self-discovery and personal battle, as well as the issues surrounding her family. Instead a perfect boyfriend is presented at the perfect moment, offering Kiki the perfect escape from her troubled life. Romances that magically solve all problems drive me insane.
This book covers many interesting and delicate topics, but unfortunately overall I wasn’t impressed. Starfish didn’t leave a lasting impression on me, good or bad so sadly it’s a middle of the road, easy to forget book.
The only reason I’d recommend buying Starfish is to add that beautiful cover to your book collection. Starfish is available here.
I read an ebook version of this novel through Netgalley. Any links to Book Depository used in this blog post are affiliated links, meaning any purchases made through these links provide me with a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you.