A William C. Morris Award Finalist A New York Public Library Best Book for Teens of 2017 A Junior Library Guild Selection
“An empowering novel that will speak to many mixed-race teens.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) “Dazzling.” —Bustle “One of the most compelling reads of the year.” —Paste Magazine “This book is a gem.” —BookRiot
A half-Japanese teen grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school in this “stunningly beautiful, highly nuanced debut” (Booklist, starred review).
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.
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.
Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue. She is also a Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in Scotland with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix.
“Readers living with anxiety or depression will immediately identify with Kiko. . . . a deep and engaging story that will not only entertain but also may encourage readers to live their best lives.” —School Library Journal
“Vividly captures the identity struggles of a biracial young adult searching to find her place in two worlds.” —BCCB
“Bowman gives a powerful voice to silenced victims of sexual abuse through Kiko, whose transformation from meek and afraid into powerful and strong is incredibly moving.” —VOYA
“One of the most compelling reads of the year.” —Paste Magazine
“This book is a gem.” —BookRiot
“A vibrant, complex and heartfelt story about finding your place in a sharp-edged world that never makes it easy.” —Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of Conviction and Picture Us in the Light
“Akemi Dawn Bowman’s quietly dazzling debut novel gave me the sensation of looking into a mirror. This story is a knockout, at once an incisive portrait of family dysfunction, a nuanced depiction of Asian-American adolescence, and an artist's vibrant coming-of-age—a story so specific as to be universal. Brimming with confessional intimacy and the furious strength of empowerment, Starfish feels like the ache of being lost and the relief of finding home.” —Riley Redgate, author of Seven Ways We Lie and Noteworthy