Kiko’s life is suffocating and confined. Her mother is both overbearing and emotionally absent, only interested in Kiko when it fits in with her time or mood. Kiko’s brother’s have both retreated, the older one to college and the younger one into manga, leaving Kiko alone in trying to please and feel loved by their mother. Kiko’s only true outlet is her art, which she hopes will help her escape to art school (specifically PRISM in New York) in the fall. Then everything comes to a head, an uncle she has an abusive past with moves in, she is rejected from PRISM, and her childhood best friend Jamie, who she hasn’t heard from in years, is in town for a visit. When Jamie offers to have her tag along with him back to California to tour art schools Kiko jumps at the chance.
Starfish is a novel about perseverance, self discovery, human strength and the need to be understood and loved. It may look like Jamie is going to be the golden ticket, best friend/love interest that makes it all happen, but it is more about Kiko learning to stand by herself – to have people in her life because she wants them there not because she needs them there.