Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman


Half Japanese and plagued by anxiety, Kiko Himura has never felt like she fits in.  Her only solace is her art and the hope that she will be accepted by Prism Art School in New York and escape her abusive family, including her blue-eyed blond narcissistic mother, distant brothers, and predatory uncle. When she is rejected by Prism, she is devastated. Then she runs into her childhood best friend Jamie at a party, and he convinces her to go home with him to California to check out art schools on the west coast. There Kiko meets famous artist Hiroshi Matsumoto who takes her under his wing and helps her blossom. With the help of Hiroshi and Jamie, she begins to overcome her social anxiety and express her true feelings.  Each chapter ends with a description of her drawings that reflects her growth, setbacks, or a newfound understanding achieved.

Starfish is a 2018 William C. Morris Award Finalist for best debut author and a New York Public Library 2017 Best Book for Teens.


Simon Pulse, September 26, 2017, 352 pages. MS/HS.


Booktalk by Sharon Nehls.