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For sports lovers, I’d say this is a good book. While the synopsis doesn’t mention it, Grace and Kya are really into paintball. They play competitively and aim to be part the Grinders, an all-women’s college team, when they leave high school. Grace’s father owns a paintball place, so the two of them and their other best friend, James, spend their free time working there as well. Although, James isn’t into playing paintball, the way the two girls are. Anyway, Grace has a very strong focus on paintball and improving her game. In that aspect, I think anyone who takes her sport seriously will definitely enjoy reading this book.
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.
I also liked the fact that it is about how both Grace and Kya play together, and see each other as a duo, no matter which team they play on. That lent an interesting dynamic because the book doesn’t revolve just around one athlete and her aspirations but rather about the two of them which makes navigating their friendships more complex.
What I didn’t like though overshadowed my enjoyment a fair bit. Grace lets Kya walk all over her all the time and she cannot stop obsessing about Kya’s welfare. Even when she finally meets a guy she’s interested in, Kya’s still is the very first person on her mind. That doesn’t make sense. I mean, butterflies in her stomach, shyness, uncertainty and what not make her so nervous, anticipating where her relationship with him might lead and yet, even in the most intense moments that she encounters with him, it is all about Kya. I mean, I understand that Grace feels that she needs to take care of Kya and that she thinks that Kya is ultra-fragile because of a childhood encounter but that doesn’t mean that she has to watch over Kya and think about her as much as a new-born mother does about her baby. After four chapters I got the point and it was tiring to keep reading on about that.
The friendship between Kya and James also makes very little sense. They were best friends even before Grace moved to Tadita. Yet for the most part of the book, they aren’t even talking. When they finally explain themselves to Grace, I just couldn’t believe that that should even have happened in the first place. I don’t get why the three of them are even portrayed as best friends in the first place. Grace and Kya, yes. Grace and James, yes. Kya and James, not at all. Then again, I guess people change and all that jazz. If you wanna look at it from that perspective, maybe that part of the story will hold up for you. For me it just didn’t.
As for the resolutions, I would’ve like to know more about their paintball futures. If that didn’t tie in with the rest of the ending anymore, maybe a postscript would’ve been nice. The way they handled their friendships does fit with the progression of the plot, so I was satisfied. Despite the annoying fixation on Kya, I think there is consistency throughout, so that connections between the events still make sense. A worthwhile read for those who are into sports, girls proving themselves in the face of sexists, and those who are into issues books (read rape, in this case).