Starfish Review | BLOG TOUR

Rating: 5/5
Buy/Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of Ink Road Books (Released 5th April 2018)

A gorgeous and emotionally resonant debut novel about a half-Japanese teen who grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school. 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 lifechanging truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave. 

I'll admit, when I agreed to be part of the blog tour of this book, I didn't really know anything about it. My blog tour stop is (obviously) today, but I didn't pick up this book until 28th March. And I almost emailed the publisher saying I couldn't take part anymore; as I had no motivation to read anything and wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the story. Don't you love it when a book proves you wrong?

The story focuses on seventeen year old Kiko. Kiko is set on making a brand new start for herself as she anxiously waits for her acceptance letter to Prism, a prestigious art school, to fall through her letterbox. Kiko has never been sure on anything in her life, except that she wants to pursue a career in Art; and Prism is the beginning of that.

Kiko suffers with severe social anxiety, low self-esteem and worth, and her childhood has been extremely difficult. (Just a warning: if you're triggered by (sexual) abuse, this probably isn't the book for you). Kiko feels different than everyone else because she's half Asian, and the theme of race is explored in great detail, and is a real eye-opener. Her mum has trampled on Kiko's confidence for as long as she can remember, and makes her feel something she is definitely not: unremarkable.

Kiko is a rainbow on a black and white canvas. Her intelligence, talent and bravery radiate from every page. But when she discovers she wasn't accepted into Prism Art School, her whole world crumbles around her and she feels utterly lost. That's until she sees her childhood friend Jamie who she hadn't seen in years, and just so happens to be in love with. Jamie brings out the best in Kiko, and helps her gain the self belief she needs to never give up on her dream of pursuing a career as an artist.

Kiko really struggles with social anxiety; something I suffer with myself and thought it was described painfully accurately. There's a quote in the book that I had to rush to grab a post-it note for, because I need this quote in my life forever. Never has social anxiety been explained so beautifully:

"Normal people don't need to prepare for social interactions. Normal people don't panic at the sight of strangers. Normal people don't want to cry because the plan they've processed in their head is suddenly not the plan that's going to happen. I'm not normal. I know this".

Jamie invites her back to California and the prospect of a new beginning is something that Kiko can't resist. Kiko discovers herself, her style, her culture...and some dark secrets about her family that she wasn't expecting...

When I reached the end of this book (after 3 hours of non-stop reading), I couldn't stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. There is something so beautiful about someone accepting: I'm not perfect, but that's okay.

And a special mention to Kiko's mother who I absolutely detested. Usually, I can understand why parents turned out to be awful, but in this case: she just is. And I think it's a reminder, that sometimes people don't need a reason to be a self-obsessed starfish; they just are.

The book was compelling, heartbreakingly beautiful and utterly unputdownable. You must go and pick up a copy of this book.

 Check out the other stops on the Starfish Blog tour here:

1 comment

  1. This review gave me chills just like the book. I absolutely adored this, and have been screaming about it ever since I read it. The represnation in this meant everything and Kiko's story was one I treasured and hated at the same time. I'm so glad you enjoyed!