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?
In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.
Going into How to Love, I had not exactly low expectations but really no expectations. I thought it was going to be a nice contemporary story, rather stereotypical but pleasing. It was soo, soo much more than that. Katie Cotugno crafted a beautiful story with heartache, joy and family.
Reena, the main character, was such an excellent, flawed, realistic character that I could rave about her for pages. She was so perfect to me. Her emotions were so honest, her reactions were realistic and her story, while not totally relatable as a whole is something I think that CAN be very relatable. Sawyer, was also a favorite of mine. While I wanted to scream, and I disliked him off and on throughout the book, he really grew on me. Especially in the “After” portion and his gentleness with Hannah.
Hands down, one of my favorite things about How to Love was the family. I used to think it was so rare to find a wonderful family in Young Adult but recently I’ve discovered quite a few books, this being one of them, and I love it! Reena doesn’t have a perfect family, they are certainly not without flaws, but it’s realistic, true and they love each other. One of the parts that really ripped at my heartstrings was the big argument Reena had with her family, it was truly a breaking point for her in this story but it really showed her families love for one another.
The way the story is told, with “Before” and “After” in alternating chapters really makes Reena and Sawyer’s story come together. I actually really enjoy reading books like this because you get so much more in the overall picture than just a current point of view. Each chapter was left with a cliffhanger so that made it nearly impossible to put the book down.
Katie Cotugno touched on two difficult topics, teenage pregnancy and drug addiction but I thought she handled them beautiful. The story was very real and I was very emotional reading this. While the pregnancy aspect is one of the large topics of the book though, I wouldn’t really say that’s the main focus. It’s really a story of true love, that shows no limits and stands the test of time.
It’s really hard for me to put into words how this book made me feel. I have actually sat on this review for a week because How to Love really touched me and it’s difficult to put into words when a book is just that amazing. I would highly recommend read this if you love touching contemporaries. It’s beautifully written and full of emotion. I will definitely be reading more from Katie Cotugno!