Thursday, 22 May 2014

Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Publisher: Balzer + Bay
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Pages: 389
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5/5
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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?

There was so much hype surrounding this book before it's release. And I can see why. A YA book the deals with teen pregnancy is a pretty rare find. And even rarer is one that does it realistically. I may not be a teen mother or a mother for that matter, but I've had friends who dealt with all the emotions and issues that arise from having a child way too young. I saw first hand the hard decisions they had to make and how the relationship changed with the baby daddy. So I think Cotugno did a pretty good job capturing the emotional journey of teen pregnancy and the after affects.
I also buddy read this with Samantha from The Secret Life of a Bookworm. Which I think was a smart idea on our part. We do quite a few buddy reads, but How to Love is one that's going to have varying opinions and reactions. So it's a really good book to read with someone. As you can discuss with them as you go along or when you're done reading.

How to Love is told in alternating chapters; the before and after. The before is the lead up to Reena getting pregnant. It's the start of her relationship with Sawyer. Reena has known Sawyer her whole life. Their families are very close. In fact their parents own a restaurant together. So Reena and Sawyer have spent their time growing up there. But they've never been particularly close. That doesn't mean Reena hasn't loved him from afar. And than one day Sawyer does take notice of her and from there starts their rocky relationship. They spend the next few months fighting and making up. Sawyer is a lot of firsts for Reena. But he's also in a very bad place and Reena can see that but she's also in love. So that tends to fog up your perceptions. Than one day Sawyer is gone. No good-bye. No reason why. He's just gone. Reena also just found out she's pregnant.
The after is three years later. Reena is a mother now to her beautiful daughter, Hannah. Of course she loves Hannah to no end, but Reena's life has been anything but easy since Sawyer left. Not only was she fifteen and pregnant but now she had to deal with telling her family by herself. And well that didn't go over so great. Her father is very religious, so having an unwed pregnant teenage daughter did not go over so well in his books. In fact three years later and their relationship is not all that better. Also Sawyer's parents, especially his mom, have decided that ignoring the matter will make it go away. They rarely show interest in their granddaughter. Luckily Reena has her step-mom. She is definitely her steady rock. Than Reena's life is thrown through an even bigger loop when Sawyer suddenly turns back up. He's different. And he wants back into Reena's life. So Reena has to work on whether she should forgive him and getting to know Sawyer again.

Before Reena was a little clueless, a bit of a push-over and to in love with someone that wasn't good for her. But it takes a strong person to survive what life threw at Reena. So she survived. She made adjustments to her life and didn't give up. Sure she had to give up on some of her dreams. But she's taking classes at the local college. She has a boyfriend. And she has a beautiful daughter. I really like Reena. But I also have my qualms. And they really started when Sawyer showed up. Firstly Reena is still a bit of a push-over. She needed to stand up for herself to her dad and Sawyer's parents. I understand they're family and it's very hard to tell a member of your family, especially a parent where to go. But their attitude towards Reena was unacceptable. It was a constant worry and hurt for her. That's not right. You got to stick up for yourself. Especially when what happens in your life will affect your daughters life too. Secondly the whole Sawyer situation. Of course Reena is going to be confused over Sawyer. But man did her bad decision making take front and center in her life whenever Sawyer was involved. The lying. The secrets. God, I just wanted to shake her. Especially with the way she treated her boyfriend. What a great guy and she just blows him off. That being said, by the end of the book I was pretty proud of her. She made progress with her father and started to take better control of her life.

The biggest downfall with my ability to love How to Love was Sawyer. I had a hard time believing what he was selling. Before Sawyer was a wreck. Drugs, fighting, just everything. He needed help. And he eventually realize that. As to why he took off. He went to get the help he needed. But just leaving without telling anyone was pretty pathetic. So now there's after Sawyer come to make up for his wrongs. I can't fault him for not coming back earlier because he didn't know about Hannah. But that doesn't stop me from disliking the guy. After Sawyer is a definitely a much better person then before Sawyer. He cleaned up his life. And it's clear that now he knows about Hannah he wants to be in her life. But he showes up with this entitlement about him. He just expected Reena to take him back. He had no care about her current life and that she was in a relationship. He came back a better person, so of course she would want him back. Sawyer just rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't find him charming. I didn't like his attitude. I was just not team Sawyer.

Although How to Love didn't wow me and I didn't agree with the ending. I still really enjoyed the book. It's emotional and realistic. And shows how something unexpected and life changing is survivable. And how you don't have to give up on your dreams, you might just have to postpone them.

Happy reading!



  1. This one was definitely a fantastic one for us to buddy read. You definitely had completely different thoughts about it from me but I can definitely see where you're coming from with the Sawyer thing. He was kind of a jackass, but I'm such a sucker for romance so I ended up liking him in the end. I was really proud of Reena at the end too. She grew into such a fantastic person.

  2. Thanks for such a wonderful and in depth review. I have been wondering about this book for so long now and now I am really eager to read it myself. I worry that I won't agree with the ending either, but I am intrigued to see.if that's the case when I read it. I think a lot of the YA books I have seen that dealt with teen pregnancy didn't do it in a very realistic way. The most recent and worse being Anything To Have You by Paige Harbison. So I'm happy that this one handles the subject matter a lot better.