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
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 389
Reviewed by Rachel, age 18
I have to make this review of How to Love short. If I let myself say all I want to say, this blog post would be ten miles long. I loved this book. I loved it like I have not loved a book before. (I'm not going to try to be poetic or well-written, I just want to get my point across now!)
Katie Cotugno is a writing master. The way she created these characters--it's like they came straight from the real world. I knew Sawyer and Reena like I could point them out in a crowd. And not only are the characters exceptional, but the plot is densely layered and clever. Watching Reena learn how to love was enlightening even though it was completely fictional. That takes skill.
Sawyer was heartbreaking and never ceased to make me smile past all the tragedy. He was a "bad boy" but not in the cliche sense. Everything about this book strayed from the norm because it was reality and like reality every person has a unique story and situation. Cotugno picked out both the big and the nuance details of each character's lives to make them as real as possible. Reena, the main character, was honestly the life of the party. Her voice was so strong in this story--a result of Cotugno's breathtaking prose.
But not only is Reena an interesting voice, she is also me but way cooler. I honestly think exactly like her and have so many of the same fears and desires as her. The big things separating us is that she has an extremely attractive man, a baby, and way better comebacks.
I enjoyed this book so much and related to it so heavily that I paced myself--I wanted to savor every page.
But I'm not going to lie, although this book is uplifting and amusing at times, it's also tragic. There's a lot of shocking events--just like life, with no foreshadowing or muffled blow. At times, it was almost too hard to read. (Almost).
That's the thing about this book though; it's so honest. And not in a "too much information" sense, but rather in a way like people actually think this way, not just fictional characters who skip over some of the grueling and seemingly insignificant parts of life. It's all so true that I kept finding myself thinking: yes, exactly, totally!
To prove my point, there were such disappointing parts where for both Reena and Sawyer and some of the other characters I was like shut up, stop while you're ahead! They made mistakes, clearly, as normal people do. Although it was frustrating of course, it also made me want the characters to succeed that much more.
If I had one complaint for this book, it would be that Reena pushed Sawyer away when she shouldn't have and accepted him when she shouldn't have. Be fair to him and yourself, Reena! It's something she never got over in her character arc, but honestly in the end I didn't care. Sawyer had his fair share of problems, too.
These characters and this book now have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. I've read a lot of great books, but none as personal as this one. I have a feeling that a lot of people who read this will leave with some of the same thoughts.
This novel is a love story, but it is also a coming-of-age story. Beautifully written and perfectly executed.
To reassure you, although this book has sad parts, it is wrapped up nicely and leaves the characters just how I wanted them to be! You will be satisfied, I promise!
This book is on shelves now!
Buy Hardcover | $17.99
Rachel, age 18