Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno


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 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.


This book was an amazing read, especially for a debut novel. I loved every second that I got with it and wouldn’t mind being able to go back in time so I could enjoy it all over again. The characters were great and even though I believe this book is classified as YA it wasn’t too childish, it had just enough young-ness when needed and I was very happy with the outcome. I gave this book a five star rating and I can’t wait for Katie Cotugno’s next book, 99 Days. I think it is going to be just as good, if not better. 



Some of the things that I loved most about this book were the overall settings and also the character development. Sometimes when you read a book, the main and secondary characters don’t develop as much as you wold like. I never found at any point while reading this book that the characters weren’t acting their age. That begin said, the book is setup in two different time periods. The before and the after. The before is Reena Montero and Sawyer LeGrande falling in love and the hardships and complications that surround them. Reena has loved Sawyer for as long as she can remember, but after her best friend, Allie starts dating Sawyer, she wonders if she’ll ever get the chance to be with him. 

After a devastating loss, Reena and Sawyer seem to figure out their feelings and are finally together, but something that Allie had said before her untimely death sticks with Reena. She pretty much tells her, that Reena couldn’t handle being with Sawyer. We later find out just how right, Allie was. Reena is a good girl, one that does what her parents tell her and gets all her homework done in plenty of time. Not that that’s a bad thing, but Reena finds out that Sawyer isn’t anything like she thought. He’s sweet to her and kind, but he has a dark side with drugs and alcohol. Reena wants him to stop, but there just doesn’t seem to be anything she can do to get through to him. This ultimately leads to the fall of their relationship and throughout the book we find out just how messed up Sawyer is. He blames himself for Allie’s death and he wants to be the guy that Reena deserves, but he just can’t come to terms with the guilt he feels all the time. The day that Sawyer leaves is the day when Reena goes to tell him that she’s pregnant. Reena watches him get in his car with a bag and watches as eh drives away without even saying goodbye. 

The after follows everything that happens once Sawyer returns three years later. This is when the major character development takes place. We see Reena transform in these chapters from a scared sixteen year old girl into a strong eighteen year old mother that will do anything for her daughter. She loves Hannah, more than anything and only wants what’s best for her. When she runs into Sawyer, with Hannah in tow, at a gas station one day, she doesn’t really know what to say, or do. She’s pissed, she’s angry, and she has every right to be. Of course, there’s something that Reena doesn’t know. Sawyer came to her house that fateful day when he left. He wanted her to come with him. To start a new chapter, but her father (who was against their relationship from the beginning) told him that Reena didn’t want to see him. (This isn’t found out until the end of the book.) 

Speaking of Reena’s father, I thought the way Katie had her family support and unsupported Reena (if that makes any sense) was very interesting. They didn’t physically kick Reena out, but their relationship was never the same and her father, who is a very religious man, never quite accepted the situation that Reena put herself in. Throughout the entire novel there is animosity between the two and Reena doesn’t really understand why their relationship can’t be back to the way it used to. All she wants is her father back. 

Back to the return of Sawyer LeGrande (love his name by the way)…Sawyer wants to be apart of Hannah’s life and he has gotten better and learned to control his demons. He also wants Reena back, but unfortunately to his dismay, Reena is unavailable. She is dating the brother of her best friend Shelby, Aaron. He’s a nice guy, that loves Reena and Hannah, but for some unknown reason, Reena won’t let Aaron all the way in. She always holds something back when they’re together. (Hmm, I wonder why that is…). After much internal debate and conversations with her stepmom, Soledad, Reena decides to let Sawyer see Hannah, at the park one day. This starts a domino effect of Sawyer and Reena getting closer and closer. Eventually the relationship with Aaron ends, and Reena decides to accept the fact that she still has feelings for Sawyer. 

After a dinner party at the Montero’s house goes very wrong, Reena’s father has a heart attack. Sawyer is there to pick up the pieces, and this ultimately leads to the reconciliation of their relationship. This is of course with we find out about Sawyer going to Reena’s house the night he left. We also get to see Reena and her father finding a happy medium in their relationship and they seem to be getting back to the way they used to be. 

Something that I forgot to mention earlier, is that Reena loves travel. She had always wanted to write about beautiful and exotic places when she grew up and that is what she had planned on going to college for before Hannah. Something that Reena and Sawyer always talked about doing was traveling to those places together. So, the ending to this amazing novel was perfect. They rode off in the sunset on a family road trip. 

As I’ve said, I loved this book. I read it in one night and was very very sad when it was over. I would definitely recommend this book and here’s the synopsis for Katie’s next book 99 Days (releasing April 21st, 2015)…

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

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Until next time...

Have an "unexpectedly phenomenal" day and happy reading!

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