Thursday, 3 October 2013

Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: 1st October 2013.
My rating: 4.5 stars 


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

How to Love was a book which took me by surprise. I’ve read quite a few books recently that have gone down the same typical path, that I’m finding reading my favourite contemporary books ever so hard. So I’m pleased to say that the initial fear I had going into How to Love was worth it, because this book delivered in so many aspects.

How to Love is the story of Sawyer and Reena, who got together when they were pretty young, but things didn’t go the best possible way. Sawyer walked out leaving Reena pregnant and all alone and then returns two years later and its clear as day that’s there’s still some unfinished business between them. The first thing I enjoyed about this book was the way it was written, Cotugno wrote each chapter as a before (when Sawyer and Reena were younger) and as a after (the current day). It was crucial learning about Reena and Sawyer’s past as there were so many obstacles as to why things ended up the way they did. But instead of overwhelming us with the entire back story, Cotugno weaved in the back story in small snippets alongside what was happening today. This really worked wonderfully as I found myself invested in both stories the same amount, also the way back story was told fit in perfectly in order for us to understand what was happening right now.

Also despite us getting this back story which gave us a better understanding of our two main characters and their families, there were still some nice shock revelations along the way. Secondly Cotugno delivered a beautiful yet heart breaking story. The central story focused on the relationship between Sawyer and Reena, but Cotugno was also able to make us readers take a step back and look at the bigger picture, there were so many factors which made the decisions for both of these characters, that I was glad by the end both characters were finally able to take charge and make decisions by themselves.

Reena did have a lot to deal with after Sawyer left she was 16 and pregnant in a religious family. Despite seeing her one love up and leave with no explanation and seeing all her hopes and dreams shattered at the same time, Reena was a strong character. She constantly had to deal with the awkwardness from her father and Sawyer’s family too, but just really tried to get through life. There was only one part of her that I didn’t like, but overall Reena was a smart character who made the decisions that were important to her and her daughter. Sawyer was a real mixed character, when he was younger he did have Reena’s best interests at heart, but really did a shoddy job about being her boyfriend. I know Sawyer didn’t leave at the best possible time, but I think the point that Reena and Sawyer had reached in their relationship, it really was necessary for both characters to have a clean break, because the Sawyer that was able to return was a million times worth it. Now I like my stories where characters return, and haven’t changed dramatically but slowly win you over and this is exactly what happened with Sawyer’s character. He could be a little over confident at times, but little by little chinked away at the armour Reena had built to protect herself from. I liked how he had matured from the Sawyer that would get off his head and not give a toss to all he wanted to do was what was best for Reena and baby Hannah.


All that’s left for me to say is that don’t be fooled by this pretty cover, Cotugno provides a realistic and heart breaking read in How to Love. She deals with several tough issues that many individuals could relate to, but also delivers and incredible journey through the lives and love of Sawyer and Reena.



25 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Jasprit! I've been hearing a lot about it, so I'm excited to give it a try myself. I really like the idea of the dual narration in terms of "Before" and "After" chapters, so that seems to have worked really well. I'm also looking forward to meeting these characters! Great review - as always - Jasprit!(:

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  2. I'm glad the snippets from the past were weaved in well. That doesn't always work for me, as I nearly always end up preferring one story to another and feel the urge to rush ahead as a result. I'm glad this book ended up surprising you! It doesn't sound like my sort of read, in all honesty, but if it lands my way, I'll give it a try. Lovely review as always!

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  3. I'm really excited to read this now. Thanks for sharing a great review :-)

    Georgie @ What She Reads

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  4. GAH. The mixed reviews are screwing with my brain. I want to read this now. (And then when I see another negative review I'll be like; I'm gonna not read this now) BUT I trust your reviews, Jasprit so if you gave this 4.5, I will try it!

    Thanks for your honest review, hun! <33

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  5. I actually haven't read any reviews of this yet, so I'm glad yours was the first I've read! 4.5 is a solid rating, and it definitely sounds as though the shocks, twists and turns really kept you going throughout the book...something I definitely need! :)

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  6. Great review. <3 I'm glad you ended up loving this book :) Though I won't ever EVER read it. Sad face. Sounds like way too much drama for me, hih (A) though I do think it sounds a bit interesting. Maybe. Anyway. Thank you for sharing your amazing review. <3

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  7. I'm not much of a contemporary reader, but I do like the sound of this one :)

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  8. I've been hesitant to pick this one up Jasprit, nervous that I'd be so put off by Sawyer leaving that I'd hold a grudge the entire book and he'd never win me over. I hold a mean grudge:) It sounds like that's not the case though, and I'm glad it takes him a while to chink away at Reena's armor, because I know I'll be wrapped up in similar defenses, and I love that he doesn't give up. Fantastic review, you've convinced me to give this one a try!

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  9. Oooh, yes for being interested in both--the past and the present. It often happens that readers get intrigued by only one of these. It's funny that you don't hate Sawyer since I've seen so much hate towards him in so many reviews and I'm wondering where I'd fit in this story. I love these kind of reuniting stories as well and I'm determined to give this one a go someday. I'm so happy you enjoyed it:)

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  10. This book arrived for review the other week as a total surprise and I'm so glad because I hadn't heard of it before and it sounds FANTASTIC! "it really was necessary for both characters to have a clean break, because the Sawyer that was able to return was a million times worth it." I'm so happy to hear this. Going in I'm a little wary to how I'm going to like Sawyer with him walking out on a baby but if it's done well and he has growth then I suspect I may forgive him :P this was such a fantastic review! Hoping to read soon!

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  11. This sounds like a love story that I'll enjoy reading! I've been wondering if I'll pick this one up and your review totally convinces me - thank you so much, Jasprit :)

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  12. I love seeing people who connected to this story as much as I did! This one really stole my heart, with it's lovely prose and messy relationship. It definitely made me remember my first love - how embarrassingly obsessed I was and the poor decisions I made because of that. I like how you talk about how the author showed us the bigger picture and also how the characters were able to finally make decisions for themselves in the after. I think that's the strength of this book for me. It's not about two people who try to fix each other or need each other to survive. But they are in love and have to make their own decisions about whether they want to try to be together again despite everything. And as painful as Sawyer's disappearance was, I agree that at that point in his life he really needed to go away and figure himself out before he could be anything good for Reena. As hurtful as it was at the time, they never would have gone anywhere without the break. Anyway, lovely review!

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  13. so glad to see you liked this book. Its on my TBR I may have to movie up. great review.

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  14. I'm glad to hear this one delivered for you and didn't feel like a typical contemporary romance. I'm quite curious!

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  15. Such mixed reviews make me want to pick up this book and see for myself! I just read a 2-star review yesterday and could see where they were coming from and now, same with yours. *runs to shelf* Guess this one is next 'cause I gotta know!

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  16. I have been so curious about How to Love. I have to say, Jasprit, that your review has me very excited. Great review, sweetie!

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  17. This sounds very interesting. I like the idea that it's about two characters learning to fall in love twice, although that premise makes me wonder how Reena could ever forgive Sawyer for walking out on her while she's pregnant. I just think that's pretty unforgivable in my mind, but I guess I don't know about the circumstances presented in this book. Maybe I'll try giving this a chance if I'm looking to challenge my mindset. Lovely review, Jasprit! :)

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  18. My favorite book format is past and present! Two way street by Lauren B did that perfectly too. Splendid review! Reena and Sawyer sure intrigue me from what I read.

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  19. Loved how the past and present gave them so much depth to me, also the second chance love stories, sigh.

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  20. This sounds like such a powerful book! I actually really want to read this because the premise just sounds so interesting (I don't think it's completely unique, but I'm a sucker for these second chance/redemption type novels). It's so good to know that it's quite realistic and relateable!

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  21. Wow! As you know, I wasn't a fan of this story, especially Sawyer, but I'm very much enjoying reading all these different opinions. HTL was one of those books that just didn't work for me, I found problems in everything, but I'm glad that you liked it so much. Great review, Jasprit :)

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  22. I didn't have a great time reading this, Jasprit. But I'm glad you did. I just thought the characters didn't really mature from what they were after what they've both been through.

    Great review!

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  23. Great review. I'd love to read this one :)

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  24. Yay! I've been interested in this book, so I'm really happy that you loved it :) I've heard mixed reviews on the characters, but I love how you describe them being tough and just great overall. And that the author does this topic beautifully. Great review!

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  25. everyone is giving this book such a high rating!! I am such a fan of contemporaries, so I will definitely NOT pass this one up! Great review, Jasprit!
    - Farah @ MajiBookshelf

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