How to Love by Katie Cotugno
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.
As the title suggests, this book is about love. But it is not a light and fun romance. How to Love is an emotional and powerful book that I became completely emotionally invested in from the first page. The main character, Reena, captured my heart and didn't let go, even after I turned the last page.
This story alternates between Reena's life Before and Reena's life After, and I think it is such a unique and effective way to tell the story. The reader gets to know the Before Reena and the After Reena at the same pace, and what's so fascinating about this format is how different the two Reenas seem. In the almost three years separating the Before from the After, Reena has changed a lot. She's experienced so many things that have forced her to grow up, and she's become a new person.
Reena's relationship with Sawyer is messy and complicated. The Before is about the beginning of their relationship, when they first start to spend time together and get to know each other. The After takes place years later, after Sawyer has left and then come back, and Reena has to learn how to be around him again. In the After part of the book, Reena is a teen mother to a toddler, and Sawyer is just meeting their child for the first time.
This story is emotional, and it made me shed a few tears as I read about these two confused and complicated characters. There are many ways for a book about teen pregnancy to go wrong, but How to Love handles the topic so elegantly. This book explores the topic of teen pregnancy in such a unique and classy way. It's not your typical episode of Teen Mom. Reena and Sawyer both come from good old-fashioned Christian families instead of any kind of broken home, and the book also explores the importance of family. The relationships Reena has with her family members are complicated and realistic, but at the end of the day, they all care about and support each other. This story is about both romantic and familial love, and how important both kinds of love are.
How to Love impressed me with its beautiful and powerful love story. The characters are not always easy to like, but I still found myself emotionally invested in them, especially Reena. My heart both soared and ached for her, and I was able to completely lose myself in her story. How to Love is not the fun love story I was expecting, but it turned out to be one of the best love stories I've ever read.