There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kya Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected. And suddenly the person who’s always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are forced to question how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I have yet to read a YA book about friendship (until this book), something every young adult deals with practically every day. It was interesting and almost refreshing to read a book that focused on such an important aspect of any young adult’s life. While there were some part of the book that kind of irked me, there were many parts that I felt could easily be related to by young adults, and even adults themselves. Everyone goes through friendships, whether they last or not; it’s even harder when you’ve been friends with someone for a long time and then all of a sudden no longer are. I’m pretty sure everyone has gone through something like that at least once. I know I have.
First of all, kudos to Janet Gurtler for included the sport of paintball into this story. Grace and Kya are some of the most well known paintballers in their area and even professional college teams are looking to recruit them. Thumbs up to that aspect…paintball isn’t a sport you hear about too often, so it was pretty cool to include a lesser known sport into the mix. There were a few times where I thought certain paintball moments in the book were almost pointless, but to really add to the friendship part of the storyline, I think it served its purpose.
My first go-to whenever I think about a book are the characters in it. I wanted to like the characters, but there was something about them that just put me off. Except Levi…he was just too sweet to have anything negative about him. Grace is the main character (as in, it’s told from her perspective) and while she definitely had the qualities of being an awesome friend, she was just too much of a pushover for me. It’s one thing to give in to your friend every no and then, but to give up your own dreams and happiness to make sure your friend is okay, no offense, but that’s just too much. Grace was constantly looking after Kya, her best friend since she moved to the area when she was younger. Kya was always the headstrong one while Grace was always the quieter, in the background one. While Kya truly seemed like she wanted Grace to be happy, she was just a really awful friend. Sure she would apologize every single time she messed up and Grace had to take care of her, but there were just too many of those moments. It’s a little bit more understandable when you find out something incredibly tragic happened to Kya, but at the same time it really takes a toll on Grace and their friendship.
There was another best friend that made this duo a trio. His name was James and quite honestly, I wish more of him had been in the book. Of course, throughout the entire book, there is this awkward tension between James and Kya that Grace doesn’t find out the reason for until almost at the very end. James was the sweet, nerdy, boy-next-door kinda of guy and there was definitely not enough of him in the story, considering the friendship was a trio, though I suppose it focused more on Grace and Kya’s part of the friendship.
Many times while reading this book, I just found myself shaking my head and wanting to shake both Kya and Grace. I wanted to shake Kya because she was just being so stupid. Not only did she put herself before her friend, but she acted recklessly in front of Grace’s mom. Who does that? And then I wanted to shake Grace to wake her up to what Kya was doing and how she could no longer be her caretaker without missing out on her own future. Kya was on a downward spiral of self-destruction and, sadly, there was no end in sight.
Friendship break-ups are always hard; sometimes people just grow apart and sometimes people fight and never speak again. As many people would say, if you’re still friends with your best friend, you are lucky. It doesn’t happen very often anymore…people come and go out of our lives all the time. Sometimes you may come across someone who comes into your life and stays there and isn’t part of the revolving doors of friendship. It’s heartbreaking to see any friendship end, especially one that has been around for quite some time; a void is left by the absence of that friend. However, sometimes it’s for the best, as Grace slowly learns. It’s never easy, but you do have to think about your happiness and future before you can worry and care for someone else and their life. I think Janet Gurtler did a remarkable job at portraying a typical young adult friendship. She always has a way of making every scene as if you are there experiencing it for yourself; there was so much detail throughout the book that several times I felt like I was in Grace’s position, trying to deal with Kya myself. Grace was a great friend to Kya and I truly think Kya was fully capable of being a great friend to Grace; it’s apparent that she was at some point.
There were so many parts of this book that really were realistic and would be easily to relate to by many. With a few hangups, such as Kya being so incredibly annoying, James not being featured enough, and paintball making either too much of an appearance or not enough (if that makes sense), I still think this is a rather wonderful book about the struggles of friendships, especially with young adults.