How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler (website | twitter)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: best friendships, secrecy, paving your own way, paintball
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thank you!)
Summary: Grace and Kya have been best friends since they were eleven years old. Something pretty devastating happened to Kya and Grace is the person who picks her up when that reality comes crashing down around her time and time again. However, Kya’s behavior is getting out of control — too much drinking, hooking up with random guys all the time — and Grace is exhausted. Does she continue to protect Kya or is it time for their friendship to come to an end?
Growing pains are rough…especially when you’re suffering through them with your best friend. I’ve totally been there with friends throughout the years: early in my marriage as I tried to figure out who I was as a wife, or even right now as some of my best friends just don’t care to make the effort to hang out anymore or respond to invitations to hang out. (Or even ask about what’s happening in my personal life — sometimes, you guys, I swear you know more about me than people I see on a regular basis.) The emotions and roller coaster ride of friendship is sometimes brutal.
In a nutshell, that’s what Grace and Kya are suffering through. Kya has a big secret that she’s entrusted Grace with, and sometimes the truth and reality of her secret leads to drinking too much and being much more flirtatious with guys than she should be. Always-loyal-Grace steps in to save the day and make sure that Kya is okay. The problem is that protecting Kya is exhausting and Grace is having to interfere much more than she should have to because Kya’s self-deprecating act is continually getting worse. Kya’s outbursts are intruding on Grace’s plans to make a college all-girls paintball team (that she thought Kya also wanted to join).
I’ll admit that I definitely felt torn about what Grace should do. Does she remain loyal to her friend to make sure she’s okay or does she speak up and get Kya more help? (It doesn’t help that Kya’s parents intentionally ignore the situation, taking the “innocence is bliss” route.) I tend to be president of the put-yourself-second club, but in How I Lost You, my emotions were on high alert. Kya was so selfish and bratty — always taking and never giving, always needing protection, but never thankful. Grace was strong and had good, good things coming her way — if only she could focus and improve her skills without Kya’s outbursts interfering. How much is too much? When do you start to breakdown if you’re always the person saving the day?
(Small side note: Kya’s behavior struck a real chord with me. I’ve had that person in my life before who calls in the middle of the night and scares the living daylights out of me because I’m just not sure what frame of mind they’re in. The drinking, the depression, the constant worrying about that person. All very real and a little uncomfortable, too.)
It’s hard to move through the rough patches of a friendship because sometimes you can’t quite determine if you’re going to make it to the other side. While reading about the problems these two girls faced wasn’t always the easiest, I could relate to so many moments. And thankfully, Gurtler included intense paintball games and a nice helping of a really sweet new boy that Grace needed on her side to break up the tension.
How I Lost You is the story of two girls whose friendship is at a fork in the road. They must decide whether to continue fighting to save their friendship or if it’s time to move forward individually. The lesson is that even if life does take us along different routes, we’re forever changed by the interactions and time we’ve had with those people.