Starfish โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜†

29456598It’s always rare for me to pick up a contemporary book and love it. The last one that did that was They Both Die at the End earlier this month and that one made me sob.ย Starfish was emotional for different reasons.

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what sheโ€™s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesnโ€™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 doesnโ€™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.

A little slow to start,ย Starfish took my own self-confidence and rattled it around. Kiko has confidence issues and social anxiety that stem from a past trauma and an unloving, racist mother. So when she distances herself from her toxic home, she starts to find parts of herself in California, with the help of her childhood friend Jamie.

The romance subplot didn’t draw me in (though usually I’m a sucker for friends to lovers romances) and any time there was romantic screen time, I felt like I just wanted to get a move on. I was mostly interested in Kiko’s growth into a braver, more confident person.

The portrayal of anxiety was the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t suffer from as intense social anxiety as Kiko, though I do have some milder form of social anxiety, but I know people whose anxiety is as bad as Kiko’s. Bowman knew her stuff when she was portraying Kiko’s anxiety and how people around her reacted to it, especially if those people didn’t have anxiety themselves.

I loved watching Kiko grow as the story went on, and I resonated with a lot of her insecurities about beauty. I may never full understand how societal beauty standards affect girls of color, but as a fat girl myself, I’ve felt that pressure to look a certain way just to be seen as beautiful in a parent’s eye. I’ve felt that hopelessness when I knew it wasn’t something I could control and how my simply existing was a disappointment to some people.

I cried as Kiko made the realizations about herself and beauty and as she became this braver person because of her experiences. I couldn’t putย Starfish down and it changed my view on life.

Starfish publishes September 26th, 2017.

Social Cards

I posted a whole newbie guide for BookCon at BookedAllNight, but I wanted to help spread this section specifically. I think there are a lot of anxious BookNerds in the world and more cons should be adopting this trend.

Some cons include social cards with your badges. Green for “I’m social! Please feel free to talk to me!” Yellow for “I’m a little shy. Please don’t talk to me unless I’ve instigated the conversation.” Red for “Do not talk to me.” This helps people who don’t do well with crowds (like myself). BookCon does not include these types of badges but I’ve made up a few that you can keep with you to put with your badges in case you need them.

I recommend getting the Scotch brand photo lamination packets and then punching a hole at the top so that you can swap between these. But you can also tape them over your badges-they should fit. Put them on the front so that you don’t cover up the QR scan for your badge.

REMEMBER:

  • RED: Please don’t talk to this person. They do not want to socialize or find it very difficult.
  • YELLOW: If you don’t know this person-they don’t want to talk OR they are okay with talking to you but they need to start up the conversation.
  • GREEN: All social all the time!