Title: How To Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Published: October 1st, 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Length: 389 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Giveaway Win from Books of Love
My Rating: ❤❤❤❤
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.
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?
In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.
As soon as I won the Clean My Shelves giveaway at Books of Love, I knew I had to get this book. It was my first pick. And it’s a hardcover! I was beyond ecstatic. But life got in the way, and the book was just sitting, patiently waiting for me to read it. Six months later, I was browsing my new bookcase, noticed this beautiful cover, and read the back of the book. Ahh! Why didn’t I read this sooner?! It sounded like an amazingly romantic and heartbreaking book. So I jumped in…
WHAT I LIKED
The format. Initially, I had mixed feelings about the story going back and forth between the before (when Reena was a young teenager hopelessly in love with Sawyer) and the after (when Sawyer comes back after being away for a couple years, and Reena is raising their child). BUT, after just the first few chapters, I absolutely loved the way it was written. This could’ve been done a couple different ways, such as flashbacks or being written as a two-parter, first part in the before and second part a couple years later. And I think this was definitely the right way to go. The story unfolds in such a unique way. Yes, you know Reena gets pregnant and Sawyer leaves, but what happens before that? Why did he leave? How did they get to that point? Reading the before chapters will gradually make you understand their story while reading what is happening now. It was brilliantly written.
The very real characters. I can definitely understand why some people had an issue with Reena or Sawyer or both, but I really liked them. They were clearly flawed and often made stupid mistakes or just behaved in a way that made you want to scream at them, but that makes them all the more real. Was Reena weak and foolish when it came to Sawyer and his charming self? Was Sawyer an insensitive ass at times? Sure. But they’re also human. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a hopeless romantic when I was a teenager and have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to guys. And my husband will be the first to admit that he has had his asshole moments. But who hasn’t? We’re human! We’re not perfect. And neither are these characters. That’s why I loved them. They were relatable.
The romance. Don’t expect some fairy tale romance here. It’s complicated. People get hurt. Lives are changed forever. But it’s real. Why do we always have to read these romances that are so sweet and involve perfect men? Of course, I love those too, but that’s not always how it works! These two people fall in love, but there are issues that kind of tear them apart. It’s sad. But they have an undeniable connection, and I enjoyed seeing their story unfold.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Not addressing some things the way I would have liked. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are some issues that I would have liked to see addressed and discussed way more in depth. For example, Sawyer missed out on the first 14 months of his daughter’s life. And then he’s back and just kind of jumps into her life. I guess I wanted to see him more emotional about the whole thing. There is also a drug issue that just kind of exists. I wanted to see that dealt with more. And there are other issues too. I don’t know. This book could’ve been so much more if it addressed these problems on a deeper level. So, I was a little disappointed about that.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were completely relatable, even when they were irritating. The plot was written uniquely, and it worked so well. I was so invested in the story. I just had to know how it all ended. The ending was perfect by the way. Such a great conclusion to an already great book. I just wish it was more in-depth. Very enjoyable though. And this was the author’s debut novel! So, I’m very excited to read more from her.
4 out of 5 Hearts!
(I HAD to share this one! It’s so damn cute. And hilarious.)
“I like your wrists,” he commented suddenly, glancing over at where my hands were resting in my lap. He traced the underside of my forearm with the tip of his finger.
I looked at him skeptically. “My wrists?”
“Yeah,” he said, half smiling as he switched lanes. “Relax. I don’t have, like, a weird wrist thing. I just like yours. They’re small. Like bird bones.”
“Bird bones,” I repeated.
“Yeah.” He paused. “See? Now you ruined the moment.”
“You were making a moment?”
“I was trying!”
I laughed. “Sorry. Do it again.”
“No!” he said. “The moment is over.” But he was laughing, too.
(from her website)
Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavors of characters on TV shows as if they actually exist in the world.
Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Broadkill Review, The Apalachee Review, and Argestes, as well as on Nerve.com. Her novels HOW TO LOVE and 99 DAYS are available now from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins.
The great loves of Katie’s life include child’s pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston with her husband, Tom.
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