I received this book free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1st 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: 99 Days
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.
Reena Montero is brilliant and full of substantial dreams for her future. Sawyer Le Grande is charismatic yet hindered by terrible addictions. Reena has been in love with Sawyer for as long as she can remember. The day he finally notices her was the day both of their lives were forever transformed. By the time Reena realizes she’s pregnant, Sawyer has disappeared without a trace and she’s left to suffer the consequences. How to Love alternates between Before chapters, when Reena and Sawyer are together, and After chapters, when Reena is a struggling single-mother before her 17th birthday.
Oh my gosh, this book. I went into this with the preconceived notion that it’d just be a mediocre read because honestly, YA contemporary romances are not my thing. I’ve always found the majority of the romances are typically shallow and superficial, lacking any honest or true love. But this? This book managed to elicit such profound feelings from me that I was left feeling utterly bewildered at how impeccably Reena and Sawyer’s story managed to speak to me.
*sigh* Sawyer. He reminded me so much of another character that I read recently, Sutter from The Spectacular Now, and how self-destructive he was yet so charismatic and charming. (Although admittedly Sawyer was a far more redeeming character.) Sure he made some really jerk moves in the Before bits, but I couldn’t help thinking his heart was in the right place. He’s a highly dysfunctional character and it’s easy to place the blame because of his addictions but once you get to that point that he’s at, choosing not to do it is not as easy as saying yes or no because it’s become a part of who he is. It’s clear that the struggle to slay the demons within him is ongoing, but his love for Reena was forever evident even when he chose to leave without a word.
‘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.’
I heard all the negative things about Sawyer before going into this book and how he dragged Reena into his reckless behavior but I was somehow able to completely look past that and understand him and his situation a bit more than I was entirely comfortable with. I’ve been in a relationship much like theirs and yes, it’s a destructive type. Going to the parties when I’d rather be home. Going because it’s the only way to ensure that he stays somewhat safe. Knowing that you being his rock, his stability, is the only thing you can do for him as the demons within cannot be slayed. When you love a person, you’re willing to stand with them through thick and thin and help them the only way you can think to.
Sawyer may not have shown any visible progress in becoming a better person but Reena was the only thing in his life that helped him become the redeeming character we see in the After chapters. He came back into Reena’s life intent on earning her love back. He was truthful and forthcoming with the issues he had and how he needed to leave to fix them. He was repentant but never actually apologized I believe because no sorry could ever fix what was done, only him being the support that Reena needed would change that. It was clear that he battled with the guilt of his actions.
This was a hard review to write and I’m still not convinced I’m discussing everything I want to. This book left me with the worst bookish hangover I can remember in recent history. It managed to evoke a shocking amount of emotion from me and left me contemplating for days.
How To Love is a beautiful and powerfully written story of love ingraining itself onto your very being.