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Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

How to Love
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated-and pregnant-Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?
Summary & Cover taken from
Length: 389 pages (Hardcover)
Available Formats: Print/E-book/Audio
Publication Date: October 1st 2013 by Balzer + Bray
This was the third time I'd borrowed How to Love from the library and I was so determined to finally read it, and my main motivator was a read-a-thon I'm currently participating in. Without it I'm not sure if I would have pushed to read it.
All the hype about this one really got to me. I'm one of those readers that if things are to hyped up it makes me not want to read it for fear of disappointment. I've been burned before *cough* The Hunger Games" and didn't want to go through it again but, as soon as I started reading I was hooked.
I liked the story line of this one a lot. We have two kids who have known each other their entire lives, that get together in the worst of circumstances, have sex, have a kid, he walks out and she, the girl with the big dreams is stuck in their hometown. The story is told in a way that isn't cheesy which I appreciated. I was worried it might all be rainbows and butterflies, glorifying teenage pregnancy but it wasn't. It was about a girl and a guy who once they get past the bullshit, are remarkably well suited for each other. All it took was time to figure everything out.
I enjoyed that the book was told in two time lines. There's the before, which is Reena's point of view from before she and Sawyer became a couple up until just before she gave birth to Hannah. The after bit takes place from the time Sawyer surfaces again onwards from her POV. I liked this switch up from the alternating POV's of the main characters and the author did it seamlessly while creating two very realistic characters.
I loved Reena, she wasn't whiney, she wasn't annoying and she didn't pull the whole woe is me crap, that I was kind of maybe, a little bit expecting since whiney female characters are a theme in contemporary YA books lately. Instead, she surprised me by being smart, snarky and real. She knew that as a teen mom that she wasn't always the best but damned if she wasn't going to try her hardest to be the best that she could. She's completely devoted to her daughter and I loved that.
Sawyer was a bit of an idiot in the beginning. He disappeared just before Reena found out she was pregnant with their daughter Hannah and he thinks that after being home for 2 weeks that he can just waltz in and be Mister Dad, and I found that really annoying. Especially since for a lot of the book he never knew how Reena was treated by her father, his parents and a lot of people because of her age. I liked that he wanted to be part of Reena and Hannah's lives but he didn't seem to feel so bad about taking off.
For a debut novel I have to say that Katie Cotugno, pulled off a well written love story about forgiveness and second chances. Her characters weren't cookie cutter copies of all the characters in other YA books. She didn't write them to be perfect, they have clear and visible flaws as people, but as characters I thought they were perfect both apart and together by the time I was nearing the end of the story I was rooting for them 100%. I had very few issues with the book but I have to say my main issue was the lack of drama between Reena and Sawyer's parents. They were absentee grandparents and the one time they get called out on it I wanted Reena and Sawyer to rip them a new one, especially Sawyer's mother. I felt like that part was needed to even things out a bit more. I also didn't like how easy Reena and her Father seemed to make up in the end. It didn't seem believable and I felt like there was a lack of depth to those final scenes. Other than those two points though, I was impressed by this one. As a person who isn't a fan of the contemporary YA genre this one gives me faith that there are authors out there that don't think that they have to go from being sugary sweet or the opposite really gritty to write a good romance for teens.
I'd recommend this one to all fans of the Contemporary YA genre, especially those who want a strong female lead who knows her mind, is stubborn and will not settle for less than she or her daughter deserves. This was a quick, engaging, funny and emotional read and I can't wait to read more by Katie Cotugno.
Really Liked It!

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  1. Oo my first time seeing this one. Glad to hear it was a good one and third time borrowing was a charm. lol

  2. While contemporary YA and I don't always get along, I like the plot line and povs in this. I am so glad you enjoyed it Kimberly!

  3. Great review. I'm glad you enjoyed into the book. Its amazing how many of my friends growing as a teen were in these types of situations.


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