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  • Akemi Dawn Bowman

Big Starfish News

A few weeks ago, the New York Public Library named STARFISH one of the Best Books for Teens of 2017. Yesterday, STARFISH was named a YALSA 2018 Morris Award Finalist.

Honored is an understatement. I can’t believe my quiet little book is in a category with authors and novels I’ve looked up to so much for the past year. And knowing this will help get STARFISH into the hands of teen readers who need it most is an overwhelming feeling.

A little over two years ago, I wrote an own voices story about a biracial teen living with social anxiety and trying to heal after years of abuse. I knew what a book like this would have meant to me as a teenager, and I wanted that so much for people going through similar experiences. And still, like many writers, I worried I’d never be published. I worried this story would be too quiet. I worried people wouldn’t get it, or that I would hear the same words I’ve heard so many times in my life: Your story shouldn’t be told. Your voice doesn’t matter.

Today, I am overflowing with gratitude, joy, and peace.

Thank you to everyone who believed in this book. Thank you to every reader who has connected with Kiko, and followed along on her journey. Thank you to those who saw the heart of this story, and knew what it would mean to readers who desperately need to see themselves represented.

And to every writer out there wondering if there’s room on the shelves for the book of your heart—your story is important. Your voice matters. And there are people who need your words.

Keep writing.

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