Title: How I Lost You
Author: Janet Gurtler
Genre/Audience: Young adult
Publication: Sourcebooks Fire, 2013
Source: For review
Summary: Grace, Kya, and James have been best friends forever. Kya has had a troubled past with some painful secrets though, and as a result, acts out in wild and promiscuous ways, always getting herself into some kind of trouble. James is sick and tired of Kya’s behavior, but Grace refuses to give up on her, constantly defending her and supporting her, even though she doesn’t always deserve it. When things finally come to a head, and Kya reveals her true nature, Grace must decide what friendships are worth keeping and what ones are worth losing.
My Thoughts: I immediately found myself relating to this friendship scenario, as I also have a best friend “trio,” with a girl and a guy. There have been lots of ups and downs, and I’ve always felt like Grace, in that I’ve been the one who wanted to hold the group together, refusing to give up on the three of us. I totally understood where Grace was coming from and I loved that. One thing that I didn’t really relate to at all though, and found myself unable to get into, was the heavy influence of paintball in this book. Grace and Kya are trying out for a college team, and the three friends all work at Splatterfest, a paintball place that Grace’s dad owns. I don’t really know anyone who plays paintball and had a hard time enjoying some of these parts of the book. Nonetheless, I understand there are plenty of people who enjoy it, it just wasn’t necessarily for me. I also felt like I was left waiting for a big major event to happen throughout the book, but it never really did. Despite this, I did still enjoy the book for many reasons.
Kya was a frustrating character, always putting herself in dangerous situations, and blaming what happened to her in the past for everything she ever did wrong. Though she really ticked me off, I thought she was very real. I think a lot of people who suffer from traumatic experiences act out and make poor choices, and Kya’s character was very realistic. Grace frustrated me too, because for the longest time, she refused to see Kya’s flaws, and constantly made excuses for all of her wrongdoings. Grace seemed almost obsessed with her. I think this was realistic too in a sense – toxic friendships and constant excuses made for those who we love. Basically, the two of them were oil and vinegar, but they didn’t want to let go of what they had in the past. Grace, though seemingly weak at first, becomes a stronger and stronger character as time progresses, and I really appreciated seeing her growth.
All in all, I enjoyed Gurtler’s depiction here of a toxic relationship and the true meaning of friendship. Though the book wasn’t one of my favorites of the year, I did like the story and would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA with a dark side.
My Rating: 3.5/5