Monday, September 30, 2013

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Title: How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Source: ARC from BEA
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository
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. 

Katie Cotugno's debut How to Love was easily one of my most anticipated books this year. As you can imagine, I had very high expectations and I really didn't want to be disappointed by the book. And in all honesty, I wasn't even close to bring disappointed. How to Love is one of my favourite books this year. 

Three years ago, Reena Montero was in love with Sawyer LeGrande. Had been in love with him for as long as she could remember. When Sawyer appears to be returning her feelings, Reena is ecstatic. But being love with Sawyer is more complicated than Reena ever thought it would be. And it gets more complicated until the day Sawyer disappears leaving everything and everyone behind, including a pregnant Reena. When Reena thinks she is finally figuring out how to live without Sawyer and raise her daughter, Hannah, Sawyer waltzes back into her life with no warning. But this new Sawyer is different from the Sawyer Reena knew three years ago. And before long, old feelings resurface. Could Reena be falling in love with Sawyer for the second time?

How do I even begin to explain how much I loved How to Love. I read the book on my way home from BEA back in June and even now, four months later, I still can't seem to get these characters and this story out of my mind. There was just something powerful about this story that touched me in a way I don't know how to explain. For starters, Katie Cotugno is a fantastic writer. With How to Love she essentially wrote two stories: the story of how Reena fell in love with Sawyer in high school and the story of Reena and Sawyer getting to know each other again three years later. I loved how the story alternated between the present and the past. It allowed me to understand the characters in a way I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. But it also allowed me to see that being in love doesn't always look the way you think it will, even if you think you know the person. There was just so much to love about How to Love that no matter what I say I just know I won't be able to do the book and the story justice. 

The thing about Reena and Sawyer is that I basically got a two-for-one deal in a way. Because there were two timelines, there was a past Reena and a present Reena. And the same goes for Sawyer. And like I've said before getting to know past Reena and Sawyer helped me better understand present Reena and Sawyer. And that meant I saw who they became who they now are. With Reena, I saw her go from being the wide-eyed girl who's been in love with the same boy since she was a child to being this hardened person who has had to learn how to get by on her own and care for a child. With Sawyer the change was obviously more drastic, but a bit more of a mystery. With the story being told from Reena's point of view, I was able to see the differences between past and present Saywer, but it was less clear how he became the latter. But honestly, I didn't really need to know. All that mattered was that, like Reena, I pretty much fell in love with Sawyer. 

I could keep going on and on about Katie Cotugno's How to Love. This is a book with a story and characters that will stay with you for a long time after finishing the book. But more than that, How to Love reminded me why I love YA and contemporary stories as much as I do.

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