Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman – REVIEW

StarfishKiko 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.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

“Hearts aren’t meant to be broken an infinite amount of times.”

I stayed up until 5 am reading this utterly compelling book. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read as it just felt so real. I don’t think I’ve ever identified with a character more than I did with Kiko. Her social anxiety and identity issues were frighteningly realistic and it’s the first time I’ve read an author that expressed these feelings with such empathy and understanding. For those with mental health issues like myself, this book is a mirror that lets you finally be seen. As you can see, I’m still finding it difficult to untangle my thoughts and feelings enough to write a coherent review!

“Sometimes when the world doesn’t make sense, it just feels better if there’s someone around to make it a little less lonely.”

The writing style is absolutely beautiful, with engaging prose and a compelling main character. I loved how most chapters ended with a description of Kiko’s sketches and it would be amazing to see these brought to life by a talented artist. Kiko’s emotional development was raw and messy but it felt so true. I was emotionally drained by the end of this book but it was a rare cathartic experience, and one I can’t stop thinking about. In addition to Kiko, her mother has to be one of the most nuanced and complex characters I’ve ever read and their problematic relationship was utterly compelling. 

“Beauty isn’t a single thing. Beauty is dreaming – it’s different for everyone, and there are so many versions of it that you mostly have no control over how you see it.”

Starfish explores some dark issues such as sexual abuse, emotional abuse, suicide, social anxiety and depression but in an incredibly delicate and powerful way. My heart was aching for these characters as they tried to navigate their lives together. Kiko and Jamie are my new OTP as their relationship was beautifully portrayed. This was an absolutely exquisite book that I’ll be recommending to everyone and a new favourite of mine. I can’t wait to read the author’s next release Summer Bird Blue later this year.  It’s been an honour to take part in this blog tour and make sure you check out my twitter for a chance to win your own copy of the phenomenal Starfish.

(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Akemi Dawn Bowman About the Author

Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster) and Summer Bird Blue (Fall 2018). She’s a proud 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 England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix.


  1. justonemorepaige

    9 April 2018 at 1:49 AM

    Beautiful photo! And I have been thinking about reading this but on the fence. I might go ahead and add it to the list after reading this. Thanks for the review!

    1. scorpiobookdreams

      9 April 2018 at 2:37 PM

      You should definitely read it! It’s so beautiful.

  2. April Wrap-Up & Book Haul - Scorpio Book Dreams

    30 April 2018 at 11:03 AM

    […] Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough [ARC] ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon [ARC] ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet [ARC] ⭐⭐⭐ The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Uprooted by Naomi Novik ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas [re-read] ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas [re-read] ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Paradise Lost by John Milton [Serial Reader] ⭐⭐⭐⭐ A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas [re-read] ⭐⭐⭐⭐ […]

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    7 June 2019 at 2:41 PM

    […] sensitive explorations of difficult subject matters. You can read my reviews of Starfish here and Summer Bird Blue here if you’d like to hear me gushing about both […]

  4. Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman - REVIEW - Scorpio Book Dreams

    10 March 2020 at 11:01 AM

    […] a huge fan of Akemi Dawn Bowman and rated both Starfish and Summer Bird Blue an easy five stars, so I was thrilled to receive an early copy […]

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