Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: How To Love

How To Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Published: October 1st, 2013
Hardcover, 389 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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.

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 then just as swiftly 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.

It took me a long time to pick up this book and for the life of me I can't figure out why I waited so long. I guess at first the description didn't seem like something I'd be into, but the minute I started reading this, I knew I was in love. Reena and Sawyer have had quite the interesting relationship. She's loved him forever but he was always unavailable, and for a while he was dating her best friend. But one magical night, all that changes and Reena finally has a chance to be with Sawyer and she takes it, not worrying about the consequences. And when Sawyer ups and leaves one day, just as she's about to tell him she's pregnant, she realizes what a huge mistake she made being with him. So when Sawyer shows up to town two years later, Reena isn't ready to forgive him at all. She has a new life, a new daughter, and a good relationship with her best friend's brother. But Sawyer wants to be a part of her life and he'll stop at nothing to make sure she knows how much he regrets leaving. Reena doesn't want to forgive him, but Sawyer has always had a hold on her and it isn't so easy to resist him.

This book is so real it hurts. Every choice that Reena makes could ruin something, but she makes them and deals with the consequences later. She's been raising her daughter Hannah for two years with just her parents' help and working hard as a waitress to try and get out of the town. Her life id semi-okay and she seems happy. She is so cute with her daughter and you can tell she's a good mom. But when she sees Sawyer again, she starts making those kind of decisions she used to make with him and gets herself into situations she shouldn't be in. I could totally see why Reena loved Sawyer, but after what he did to her, it took me a long time to forgive him, just as it did Reena. She had some weak moments around him and everything in this book felt so real and they were in situations that could actually happen with the consequences to deal with. Reena's parents were good characters. Her dad was still angry at Sawyer for leaving and at Reena for getting pregnant but their relationship grew with the book and it was great to read. Reena makes a lot of mistakes, most involving Sawyer, but by the end of the book I wanted her to be with Sawyer too, so I know I would have made some of the same mistakes.

This is a great look at teen pregnancy without it being preachy. Reena makes her choice, keeping the baby, and raises her with the help of her parents and friends. Once Sawyer is back in her life, he wants to spend time with Hannah as well and it was great watching him try to get into the role of a father. This book is about choices and their consequences and Reena doesn't get away with any of the things she does and she gets through life anyway. Told in Before and After, we got to watch Reena and Sawyer fall in love the first time and then try to mend their relationship and fall in love again after everything that's happened. I loved both the past and the present and I dived into this book so much that I didn't want to swim to the surface. Katie has captured the essence of YA Contemporary with a bit of truth and hard decisions. None of us would know what choice we would make at sixteen if we got pregnant and it was nice to read a book about a girl trying to be a good mom while also trying to live her life and go to college. Such a great read and I'm glad I finally picked it up.

 "I think of how it felt to lose him, slow and painful and confusing, and how it felt to wonder if I'd ever really had him at all."

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