Booklist Reviews

"Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters." That's the mantra repeated by best friends Grace and Kya. But the two couldn't be more different; in spite of a shared love of playing paintball, and a desire to join the all-women's team at Seattle University, Kya has a painful past, and it's causing her to make poor decisions. This means one boy after the next, boozy nights, and letting Grace down time and again. And Grace takes it time and again. Eventually, Grace has to make the difficult decision many teens face: stick by your friend no matter what or finally prioritize your own needs and wants. While the "do what's right for you" message feels a bit heavy-handed at times, and readers may have trouble identifying what it is Grace sees in manipulative Kya, the novel explores female friendships in a thought-provoking way. The paintball plotline adds a unique angle, as does the presence of a third close friend who happens to be a guy. There's no hurt quite like best friend hurt, and that's something Gurtler captures well. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Gurtler (Who I Kissed) examines how unconditional loyalty between friends can sometimes lead to unhealthy self-sacrifice. Seventeen-year-old Grace and her best friend Kya have always put each other first, bonded by a chilling secret from Kya's past, as well as a mutual love of paintball. Forgiving Kya for her sometimes selfish and destructive behavior has always come naturally to Grace, in light of Kya's past trauma, but when Grace meets a cute, reliable guy named Levi, finding a balance between making excuses for her best friend and pursuing a budding love interest becomes challenging. Kya's recklessness causes problems for both girls; she makes them miss an important practice and acts inappropriately at another critical paintball event. Gurtler gracefully negotiates the powerful emotions that accompany a changing friendship and brings the game of paintball to life with fascinating detail. Readers may tire of Kya's antics before Grace finally takes a stand, but they'll understand the difficulty of moving on from a toxic relationship that once felt like it would last forever. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jill Corcoran, the Herman Agency. (May)

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PW Annex Reviews

Gurtler (Who I Kissed) examines how unconditional loyalty between friends can sometimes lead to unhealthy self-sacrifice. Seventeen-year-old Grace and her best friend Kya have always put each other first, bonded by a chilling secret from Kya's past, as well as a mutual love of paintball. Forgiving Kya for her sometimes selfish and destructive behavior has always come naturally to Grace, in light of Kya's past trauma, but when Grace meets a cute, reliable guy named Levi, finding a balance between making excuses for her best friend and pursuing a budding love interest becomes challenging. Kya's recklessness causes problems for both girls; she makes them miss an important practice and acts inappropriately at another critical paintball event. Gurtler gracefully negotiates the powerful emotions that accompany a changing friendship and brings the game of paintball to life with fascinating detail. Readers may tire of Kya's antics before Grace finally takes a stand, but they'll understand the difficulty of moving on from a toxic relationship that once felt like it would last forever. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jill Corcoran, the Herman Agency. (May)

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School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—Best friends Kya and Grace hope to make the Lady Grinders paintballing team in college. Rarely does anything come between them, but then Kya finds that drugs and alcohol make her feel better and help her forget the dark secret that she shares with very few people. Grace, the narrator, tries to keep Kya moving in a positive direction, even making excuses for her until she feels herself being dragged under the weight of her friend's destructive habits. This is a relatable story about nurturing a friendship, and it's not every day that teens will have the chance to read about paintballing. The lesson that Grace learns is a good one, and the strong female characters are a plus, but many readers will not wade through the details to get to the resolution.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

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Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

BFFs Grace and Kya, friends ever since Grace first moved in next door, are closer than sisters. Grace's dad, a former police officer, runs the town paintball center; the two girls are passionate about paintball and seeking coveted spots on Seattle University's Lady Grinders team. But not all is certain and assured, and when a terrible secret is reawakened from her past, Kya spirals beyond Grace's reach. Kya indulges in self-destructive behaviors: drinking, promiscuity, and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Their mutual friend, James, distances himself from Kya and rebuffs any of Grace's attempts to have them reconcile. Grace, who has always put her own needs second to Kya's, is torn between seeing her own goals realized and trying to save Kya Gurtler, a Canadian author, frankly delves into teen relationships. How I Lost You, her fourth YA novel, explores the friendship between two girls and what happens when the mutually beneficial relationship sours. The unique storyline of female paintballers adds to the tension and drama between the girls, and with their male friends. Teens will relate to the experience of having a close friendship that ends and Grace's feelings of loss and betrayal. The book also deals with the themes of teen sexuality and drug and alcohol use. This will make a terrific read for a YA book discussion group.—Jeanine Fox 4Q 3P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.