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.