October 20, 2013

Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Title: How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: October 1st 2013
Source: Edelweiss
Format: egalley

Rating: 4/5

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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.

How to Love is a realistic, poignant and beautifully written contemporary novel, but if you are expecting a sweet and fun romance you will not find in the story of Renna and Sawyer, because their love story is complicated, messy and stormy.

The story is told from the point of view of Reena, it has a " before and after". In the before: Renna is 15 years old and has been in love with Sawyer all her life, but he doesn´t know that she exist (romantically speaking because they work together), besides this, Rennas´s  best friend is also in love with him, so when he finally starts dating one of them, the friendship between the girls deteriorates. Sawyer is two years older than Renna, he´s a Don Juan and all the girls at school are pining for him, he likes to party and drinks a lot. And meanwhile Renna is very dedicated to school, in fact if she studies really hard she may graduate a year earlier and she could go to the college of her choice; since her dream is to be a travel writer and travel around the world.

So after all the teenage angst, Renna and Sawyer begin dating  but their romantic relationship is full of angst, is messy and complicated...ending with Renna being pregnant at 16 years old and Sawyer disappearing from her life without a word and without leaving any way to contact him.

In the after: Renna is a mother of a fourteen-month baby girl, she´s taking some classes at the community college, works as a waitress in her parents´s restaurant and is dating a new guy and her life is more or less normal, that´s until Sawyer returns to the city after nearly three years of absence and returns to shake the Renna´s life.

What bothered me a lot when I was reading this story, was mainly in the "after", because Renna allows the mere fact that Sawyer is in town the break her, she changes with him around and she lets him to change her life again, but as the story progress, I realized that it was not all because of Sawyer fault (I would have liked to read his point of view), but also Renna´s because there were so many things happening between them at the end of their relationship that were both their fault. The insecurities, the not being able to speak the truth for fear of being hated, to always be comparing yourself to someone else, to some extent put the expiration date to the relationship is what separates Renna and Sawyer the first time.

How to Love is a poignant, intense, powerful and heartbreaking novel, with a romance full of trouble and angst, but it´s also about second chances in love and life. I really liked it a lot and it plays a very important topic that is teenage pregnancy and I really suffered with Renna when she learns that she is pregnant and realises that all her plans for her future suddenly vanish and also having to talk to their parents . I recommend this book to fans of realistic, intense, poignant, and heartbreaking contemporary novels.

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.

Book trailer


  1. How to Love is one of my favorite 2013 reads.. I loved it so much and like you said, it is heartbreaking, beautiful, and all about second chances in love and life. I understood how old Reena was so affected by Sawyer's return because she never got the closure she needed 3 years ago. I agree though, maybe a bonus chapter or two with Sawyer's POV would have been fantastic (maybe a bonus chapter in the end because I feel how mysterious he is was a big factor to the story)

    fantastic review!
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  2. This one sounds interesting. I'm just getting into contemporaries a bit more now, but this one might be worth a try.

  3. I love your review! This sounds like a very engaging and emotional read. I have seen several positive reviews. Definitely something to add to my tbr list.

  4. a heart-wrenching, second chance love story is what i love most about contemporary romance..and this book is one of it. I really love your review pointing out teenage pregnancy.. Thank you for sharing gotta add it to my TBR list! ^_^

  5. I have added it to my TBR pile. Great review!!!

  6. Great review! This book sounds really interesting...it's deffinitely going into my wishlist! I have a tendency to like books who destry me emotionally so...I guess I'll like this one! haha :)

  7. looks like a great read !! Thanks for sharing !!

  8. I love How To Love, it's my favorite read of the year. I knew within reading the first couple of pages that it was going to resonate with me. I just love how the narrative is constructed and I love the story that it tells. Great review!

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

  9. I just bought this book. I've been hearing some good stuff. I gotta admit, the fun and sweet romances can be overrated. I'm really interested to see this one play out. I like watching how characters develop. Especially with heartbreak involved. It seems more realistic that way.

  10. I've seen some reviews of this book and quite intrigued to read it. However I haven't bought it because the other books are more tempting for me. Hehe. Reading your review makes me want to try reading it. Thanks for the review.

  11. This book sounds great! I'd love to read this one 'cause I am a huge fan of really good, sweet romance. Nice review! :)

  12. This sounds like a very complicated, emotional story. I cannot imagine what it would be like to raise a child at 16 years old. And having your heart broken on top of becoming a mom. I think that I would really enjoy reading this story.

  13. I've just recently bought this book and after reading your review, I'm even more excited to start reading it. Sounds like a beautifully written and emotional read, just the way I like it. Great review! :)

  14. While I like your review and am glad you liked it the summary just doesn't grab me enough to get me to read this one (at least not anytime soon)

  15. I loved this book! I was a bit hesitant at first but I'm so glad I've read it.

  16. I absolutely adored this book. I fell in love with Reena and Sawyer, and I found the ending so sweet.