cover image Starfish


Akemi Dawn Bowman. Simon Pulse, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8772-6

Graduating from high school and attending Prism Art School in New York City is the only thing keeping half-Japanese, half-white Kiko Himura going. Her Asian features and roots have made her feel like an outsider in her community, and her low self-esteem stems from the cruelty she endures from her distant and emotionally abusive mother. After Kiko reconnects with her childhood friend Jamie, gets rejected by Prism, and faces the return of her sexually abusive uncle, she opts to drive to California with Jamie to check out art schools. There, she meets artist Hiroshi Matsumoto, who recognizes Kiko’s talent and mentors her. In an empowering novel that will speak to many mixed-race teens, debut author Bowman has created a cast of realistically complex and conflicted characters. She elegantly channels Kiko’s anxieties, and each chapter ends profoundly with a description of her drawings that reflects her growth, setbacks, or newfound understanding (“I draw the sun teaching the moon how to shine”). Through art, Kiko gains a voice and finally understands that she is worthy, desirable, and talented. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Penny Moore, Empire Literary. (Sept.) [/em]