Book Review: HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno

Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 389

Released on: October 1st, 2013


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Goodreads summary:

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.

My Review:

After finishing this novel, I’m left at a bit of a crossroads. The story had its ups and its downs, its high points and its down right low points.

I was a fan of Reena at the start and I sympathized with her struggles as a teen mom. But as the story continued I found that she was very emotional (which is all fine and dandy because after the ordeal she went through, she’s got some issues she hasn’t dealt with). She makes decisions that don’t seem like the best of choices and sometimes it seems like she lashes out with no regard or restraint, and I’ll just come out and say it but sometimes it felt like she wasn’t thinking about her daughter when she was making some choices, and those decisions would evidently effect her daughter! But, I had to keep reminding myself that this is a YA novel and this is a young girl who was thrown into some circumstances that she is barely figuring out how to handle. She’s going to have to go through some trials and errors in her life, both involving her own development as a person and that of her daughter (no one is perfect, guys). *But seriously, she needed to make Sawyer sweat a little more.

Then we have Sawyer. He rubbed me the wrong way for a bit. And obviously he’s got some issues there. But I completely get his whole ‘I’m looking for a second chance’ vibe he’s got going on. Truth is, he’s got some real problematic issues going on too that he hasn’t dealt with yet either. So, in that sense both Sawyer and Reena are a screwed up bunch!

But, I think that’s where this story falls short for me. It always seemed like the author was straddling the line between lighter, more teenage-ee themes, and that of deeper, more serious adult themes. I wanted the author to delve deeper. It’s obvious that these main characters were meant for a darker, closer examination on their lives and inner demons and so on. They were trying to break free of the YA chains and jump into adult. Had this been a NA novel, it would have had more room to play around with the troubled characters and the nature of Reena’s relationship to her daughter and the rest of her family.

Maybe it could have still been done in typical YA fashion, but so far? It didn’t deliver. It needed the freedom of a NA novel. YA wasn’t cutting it for this theme.

That being said, I was left with a shoulder shrug after this book. It needed more. The characters, the plot, it all needed more.



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