Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

October 15, 2013 Review 10

How to LovePages: 389
Published: October 01st 2013 by Balzer + Bray 
Series: N/A – Stand Alone
Source: From Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss

Amazon | TBD | Kobo | Goodreads

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.

My Thoughts & Review
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!

My Rating 5 Stars Lauren

10 Responses to “Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno”

    • Lauren

      I actually adored it Melissa… it was really hard for me to write this review (I left a lot out) because it was somewhat personal for me but ahh… it was amazing, and SO much more than I thought it would be 🙂 If you give it a try let me know!!

    • Lauren

      I can’t wait for you either Cass 🙂 It’s sooooo amazing (but you already know that lol… bet you were surprised to see a review on it :P)

  1. Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan

    I haven’t heard much about this book, but I’m so glad that you liked this, Lauren! It’s always such a pleasant surprise when you go into a book expecting nothing much, but then come out of it feeling like you just stepped out of the most violent emotional tornado ever. Such a great feeling, ahhh.

    I haven’t even met her yet, but I’m loving the sound of Reena already. For me, contemporaries need to have strong characterization, because they don’t need to focus on stuff like world building and setting, unlike fantasy/futuristic books. And you know an author knows her character extremely well when she’s able to turn a non-relatable situation into something heartfelt and so easy to sympathize with for the reader.

    And wow — Sawyer was a favorite character of yours? That’s unexpected! Based on the blurb, I would’ve hated his guts because of what he did to Reena, so Katie must be really talented to be able to get you to like such a horrid character as him.

    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!” — Same here! I think it’s because the dystopian era is passing, and contemporaries are becoming more and more popular. Even though family isn’t necessary, it’s definitely a nice bonus to see it in books. It just gives the story a more positive spin, so I can see why it would be your favorite aspect of the book: honest and realistic family portrayals for the win!

    I have to admit that I wasn’t planning on reading this because I hadn’t heard much about it and didn’t want to spend money on a book I wasn’t sure I would’ve enjoyed. But now I’m feeling a lot more inclined to give this a go, because I’m always on the lookout for emotional reads. And HOW TO LOVE deals with topics that aren’t commonly seen in the YA genre these days, so it would be refreshing and enlightening to read about, I think. Great review, Lauren!
    Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan recently posted..Meg is Pissed: The Iron Traitor, Julie KagawaMy Profile

    • Lauren

      Thanks SO much for the lovely comment Meg 🙂 I actually read this yesterday on my break and it really brightened up my *ahem* shitty Monday at work!

      I really agree with the strong characterization in contemporaries. I usually read paranormal/supernatural and so much is based off on the world or the paranormal aspect and creating that, that it’s almost ok if the characterization isn’t 100%.

      I did like Sawyer! Honestly, it’s hard to explain if you haven’t read it but you kind of start to get a soft spot for him 😛

      If you give it a try Megan please let me know once you think of it!!! I’m so happy that my review makes you want to try it out 🙂

    • Lauren

      Oh … Racquel! Seriously… it’s just AMAZING! I’m glad you already love it, even without reading it hhaha.. you’ll have no trouble falling in love with it 😀 I hope you get to it soon!!

  2. Betty

    l LOVED THIS BOOK!! I appreciated so many of same things you did— especially how realistic everything about it was. Nobody was perfect and the circumstances were never perfect. A lot of people say Reena was an idiot to even stay with Sawyer in the first place (BEFORE) because of his issues, but I was in a similar situation in high school and love makes you blind! I loved Sawyer in the AFTER. <3 I also liked watching the relationship between Reena and her dad start to take a turn for the better. As a mom, I thought Katie did an awesome job showing how difficult motherhood can be– the dressing room scene, or simply eating dinner! Such a great book!!
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    • Lauren

      Oh I’m SO glad that you loved Sawyer in the after too!! I read so many reviews were people really hated him and I couldn’t get it lol. I thought the depiction of motherhood was really great as well. So happy you loved it too 😀 😀

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