September 15, 2018

Image result for starfish book cover

*I actually don't remember where the HECK the picture I took went. UGH.

Akemi Dawn Bowman


Contemporary, Coming-of-Age, Mental Health

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 Kiki 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 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 Goodreads)

Intermission: I thought the jellyfish on the cover would mean something, but I don't think it does. But whoever made the cover did a fantastic job. 

This book was a pretty chill book for the most part. It is very character-driven, focusing on family relationships, art, mental health and racial identity.

I'm going to be honest: the beginning of the novel gave me a 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' vibe. The writing style is obviously different and the dialogue is a bit more natural (still like To All The Boy, though). This protagonist is also somewhat innocent, in a way.

Now when I have a crush on someone, I don't wonder if they like the same music as me, or if they watch the same kind of movies, of if we'll get along the way Jamie and I did. I wonder if they like Asian girls.

I've read quite a few reviews before this including one from Shanti over here. One of the things she didn't like about this novel was its lack of nuance (I'm paraphrasing, I guess?). And that has been stuck in my mind until I went over the hundred-page mark. I also agree about the lack thereof but I still like it, however.

The obvious character I could not stand was Kiko's mother (and her disgusting brother Max, of course). It took me quite some time to understand her (or why she acted the way she did) but at first I was shocked. How could a human being act the way she did? How could Kiko even manage? Why did her Mum even marry an Asian man if she dislikes everything about Asia?

It is later revealed that 'Starfish' was what Hiroshi the artist's father was called. That was his nickname. He was also the centre of attention and was impressed by no one. Of course, the same meaning also applies to Kiko's mum 

I was very fond of Kiko. She's so similar to me with how she barely says what she truly thinks. Kiko struggles with anxiety, which I thought I did when i was younger but I now think I'm just super socially awkward. She's also an introvert and artist. I was so impressed at her drawing abilities and how she was so passionate about art. I also related to how desperate she wanted to be normal, to not be different or even 'weird'- when it comes to her appearance, as she's half asian. I do have it easier than her, as that stage of life was a childhood phase for me.

I liked Jamie. I'm going to be honest, I really am not a fan of the childhood best friend to lovers trope as I'm here for STRICTLY PLATONIC friendships between boys and girls.


I liked the romance! Yup, you read that right. I enjoyed the romance! Jamie was so nice and sweet but said the wrong thing sometimes and Kiko practically glowed at his compliments and it was so slow burn. When I say slow burn, I mean it. I only had a problem with the fact that he was super good looking. Which most YA male love interests are. When will girls in YA like average looking guys? Okay, okay, I only have celebrity crushes myself but hey, these girls get real life crushes. And most boys in real life are not model material. Also, he was kind of a romantic replacement to Kiko's closest friend Emery. I didn't actually like her that much but she was pretty chill.

Honorary mention to the artist Hiroshi (he was awesome).

"And do you speak German?" Hiroshi bounces on his toes.
"I can barely speak English." Jamie scratches his head with a grin.

Also to Shoji who is my son now. Kiko's adorable younger brother. <spoiler: Because he's quiet he internalised so much of his mum's emotional abuse and attempted suicide. His mum's a WITCH. Shoji also whispered Japanese under his breath when his mum was speaking 'cause she wouldn't understand. Ahem, sounds like my son alright>

So basically, if you wanna read this book, don't let the hype get to you. Just try it for yourself if you like character driven reads and some Japanese culture as well.

You Might Also Like


  1. Your review made me curious! I do love the cover as well!!

    Going to add this to my never-ending TBR :)

    1. That's great! I hope you like it.

      Yeah... Tbrs are... well you know how they are xD

  2. Great review!!

    I do wish it would have stayed platonic though, we need more platonic frienships in YA.

    1. Oh my gosh thanks!

      YESSS. But it was grand (but platonic friendships *cries*)


Keep it all clean, man. Well, if you really wanna curse, use minor swear words. And I mean the minorest of minor ones.

"Or what?" you ask in indignation.

"Or else."