How to Love
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult
Publication date: October 1st 2013
by Balzer & Bray
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.
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
Don’t let my 3 stars sway you against this one. How to Love is a pretty good book for many reasons. First it touches on a subject I personally have not often come across in books – teen pregnancy. I found this was handled realistically and fairly. I also really enjoyed the way it was told in past and present perspectives, allowing us to slowly unravel the messy, emotionally conflicting details of Reena’s relationship with the father of her child – Sawyer. We learn how it started, but most importantly how much it has changed. How much they both have changed. On that note, the reason I did not love this book despite finding it otherwise engaging: Sawyer LeGrande!
To be frank. Sawyer LeGrande is an ass. Since the story alternates from past to present, we’re treated to his “lovely” personality from when he was first with Reena. To be fair he was not in a good place in his life, and he very much changed in the “present” perspective which makes up for it, some. Nevertheless, I had a very hard time forgiving his behavior from the past. Maybe a tiny bit because of my own somewhat similar messed up teenage relationship, but alas, I blocked myself emotionally from this guy long before we were meant to find him redeemable.
Reena, however, I loved. I found her mature beyond her years – likely due to her having to raise a child so young. She’s a great mother who owns up to her mistakes; raising a child, getting a job, putting her own dreams on hold to do what needed to be done – no matter how unfair she was being treated by her family. That, alone, is admirable to me. She’s got flaws, she’s not great at admitting things to herself for one, and she let Sawyer be a jerk to her for way too long. In the end, we all make stupid decisions, we all refuse to let ourselves see people’s real sides sometimes. My teen self just very much related to her in spite of it all.
Aside from teen pregnancy, this book tackles drug use, religion, family discordance, betrayal, death – but ultimately, love, romance, and friendship. Since I didn’t love Sawyer, the romance fell a bit flat for me. I’m all about second chances, but I think Sawyer had a lot more to make up for, not helped by the fact that Reena gave in to him (both in past and present) much too easily. Evidently, all my problems with this book stem from him. Everything else is what drew me in: the writing, the realism, the family dynamic, the emotional struggles – I also loved every other character. If I had grown to like Sawyer… I can understand the reasons behind the many 5 stars!