As a Canadian I am always quick to support Canadian authors, so last year when I found out that Janet Gurtler was not only from Canada but lived in Calgary, I was quick to pick up some of her books. Prior to HOW I LOST YOU I had only gotten to read one, WHO I KISSED and I have to say that HOW I LOST YOU blew that one out of the water. This was a novel full of characters that I connected to emotionally and at the heart of the story is one of the most wonderful family units I have had the pleasure of reading about.The real charm here kicked off in the very first chapter when it came to light that Grace (our MC) and her best friend Kya are kickass paintball players. These girls don’t just play the game here and there but they excel at it. They take part in tournaments and most of the time they whip the guys butts. They have earned a level of respect in the paint balling environment as they compete and work at Grace’s dad’s indoor paintball arena, Splatterfest. The added element of the sport and camaraderie gave me a feeling reminiscent of what I have always felt when reading Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series, which was definitely a welcome feeling. I loved what a headstrong character Grace was and watching her function in this primarily male environment. This novel doesn’t only have the adrenaline that the sports scenes lend to it, it also throws some strong emotion at the reader as it deals with some pretty heavy issues. Grace, Kya, and their other friend James’ relationships are really put to the test as they harbor secrets and hidden feelings for one another. I couldn’t really peg James for much of the novel but as his story came to light and we find out what he has had to deal with with the girls and with his mother who is ailing from MS I really felt for him. He was a caring, present friend in their lives despite all that he was going through. Kya was someone that I felt really bad for but I also wanted to slap some sense into her. She was incredibly impulsive to the point of being self destructive. We also get to watch the characters grow and along with that comes relationships and hurt feelings. Grace’s romance with Levi was incredibly sweet and I loved watching it grow very slowly and naturally.The relationship at the forefront of the novel is Grace and Kya’s. These girls have been best friends forever and we watch them grow apart. There is an elephant in their closet that has been letting Kya get away with her unhealthy antics for too long and watching Grace come to that realization was pretty emotional. It was intense to see her come around and start putting herself first. Helping her get there is a great support system in the form of her family. Her parents were awesome! Her dad was an ex-cop and her mom an ex-lawyer with quite the personality. Their witty banter with one another was heartwarming and I loved her mom’s dry sarcasm so much. HOW I LOST YOU is an exceptional novel with so many layers that it has a little something for everyone. Chalk full of great action sequences, layered relationships and well-developed characters, it’s a fun, empowering read that isn’t scared to draw out emotion. I think Gurtler has hit it out of the park with this one and I can’t wait to see what she throws at us next. An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided bu the publisher in exchange for an honest review.__You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.