Author: Katie Cotugno
Category: Young Adult
Release Date: 10-1-13
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? – Goodreads
It’s rare that a book about two people who are so young so perfectly captures the profound complications that can become a part of your life and the way that relationships can exists in so much gray area. How To Love was a book that frustrated me, made me smile, and ultimately, told a very real story about disappointment and love. The structure of the book tells the story before the pregnancy and then after. I loved that because it gave an excellent picture of how Reena and Sawyer had both changed. It would have been hard to appreciate the struggles without seeing the starting point. How To Love pulls no punches when describing what it’s like for Reena as a teenage mom. She is lucky enough to have the family support so that she can keep her education going, but even her own family makes their disappointment known. It was evident that while she had financial support, the emotional support was lacking. Even though things seem ok on the surface, Reena still carries the heavy weight that can be a burden when you feel you’ve been a disappointment.
I think what really grabbed me about his book as how flawed everyone was. Rarely have I read a book where the love interest is such a mess. Sawyer was flirting with a pretty serious drug problem and while her was never a bad person, he was definitely in the screw-up category. Yet, somehow, the author was able to help me see what Reena did. Reena was also very flawed and the author did a good job of showing how Sawyer’s return disordered a life that had just stated to settle down again. How to love doesn’t try to make anyone perfect. It was more appealing because it really showed the messiness of life and the complications of romantic relationships. This wasn’t just a story about a teen mom, this was a story about the way people change and go through tough circumstances, but still hang on to the idea that life could still be what they hoped. I know a lot of people might find the relationship between Reena and Sawyer troubling. We are unaccustomed to seeing male romantic characters as anything but perfect, especially in YA. Sawyer’s struggles and his character flaws made the story interesting and much more realistic, in my opinion. Reena’s starry-eyed love for him and then her bitterness gave the book a lot of depth of emotion. It’s hard to let someone back into your life and when a baby is involved it makes things even bumpier. The ending seemed very open to me. It was hopeful, yes, but it offered no guarantees. If you are looking for a different kind of love story or just a book about two people that have to find their way back to each other, How To Love will fill your heart.
I received this galley in exchange for my honest review.