· Sold by Simon and Schuster
8 reviews

About this ebook

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.

Ratings and reviews

8 reviews
Garrett E
June 19, 2018
Laughed, smiled, cursed, ached, and angered. Starfish makes you feel it all because it naturally hits on so many issues an anxious, mixed race adolescent female will have to face in this world. Opened my mind to a glimpse of the world outside of a Caucasian male's.
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Isamari Lasprilla
August 7, 2018
I read this book in 3 days. The way the author describes every feeling, every detail makes you feel everything all of the characters are feeling. It just grabs you the instant you start reading. I absolutely would recommend this book to anyone, no matter what kind of stories you're really into.
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Cherrita Lee
September 2, 2018
No words could capture the depth of emotion and beauty in this book. It's perfection and delight.
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About the author

Akemi Dawn Bowman is a critically acclaimed author who writes across genres. Her novels have received multiple accolades and award nominations, and her debut novel, Starfish, was a William C. Morris Award Finalist. She has a BA in social sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She overthinks everything, including this bio. Visit Akemi online at, or on Instagram @AkemiDawnBowman.

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