Slight Spoilers Ahead.
“Don’t live to please the starfish, especially when their happiness is at the expense of yours. That is not love. That is narcissism. There’s an entire ocean out there, Kiko–swim in it.”
Kiko Himura has a narcissistic mother who has consistently beaten down her self confidence until she can only see herself through her mother’s eyes. Her only escape is through her art, something that she excels at and enjoys. Against her mothers wishes she applies to Prism, an art school, and sets all of her hopes and dreams upon getting in.
Despite her social anxiety Kiko’s best friend Emery talks her into going to a party where she runs into Jamie, the boy who was her best friend from childhood. He and his family had moved to California and their friendship had not survived the distance. Pretty quickly their friendship resumed but Jamie could see that this Kiko was not the same happy, friendly girl he had left behind years ago.
OK, I’ll be honest. This was a really difficult novel for me to read. Knowing a little bit about narcissistic relationships I recognized those signs immediately. However, my own relationship was not desperate and hurtful as Kiko’s was, but I could feel her pain because it easily could have been. It’s hard to read about a subject that is familiar and see that character take a different path than your own. I’ll admit that I was really frustrated with Kiko. I wanted her to be immediately stronger than she was but found the patience to keep reading because I wanted to see if she found her happy ending.
Jamie was just wonderful. As soon as he saw Kiko again he knew they were meant to be together. He was infinitely patient and old beyond his years, but then his household had it’s own difficulties. His treatment of this girl who was obviously fragile was to lend her his strength and the knowledge that despite everything he would be there for her, in whatever manner she desired. That is true love.
Although this was a difficult read for me, I did enjoy how the author slowly gave Kiko strength and through that she found her own self. I loved that.
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“I think the emotional journey of the characters was the strength of this book; I definitely had a lot of feelings about Kiko and her relationship with her family and her heritage, the latter important because of her mother’s constant undermining of the value of it. I got to the end and was just… emosh. And like I said, I thought the way the romance was handled was really important and sensitive.” Miriam Joy Reads
“I loved the way this story was written, with stunning descriptions that really sparked my imagination. All the descriptions of Kiko’s art actually made me want to start painting again, which I haven’t really done in years. All in all, this book was gripping, emotional, dark, emotional and hopeful. I really liked it, and will definitely be reading future books by this author.” Reading Sanctuary
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