How to Love

How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Published: 1-1-13 by Balzer + Bray
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

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?


Design – Alison Klapthor       Art – Alison Carmichael       Rating – 5/5

I like this cover so much because it’s so bold and different. They typical approach for any contemporary book with a romantic relationship is to put a girl doing nothing on the cover, or maybe a couple almost kissing. That doesn’t say anything much about any story, and neither does this one really, but this one says nothing in a much more interesting way. I adore covers that highlight typography and this is a great example of that. The slight angle of the title livens it up and creates a nice section of space for the author’s name. The brush-stoke texture of the font is beautiful and the repeated letters are not identical. I also like the color scheme and how the deep blue of the author’s name balance out the blue heart.


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How to Love is a complicated love story about what happens after the girl gets pregnant unexpectedly. The meat of the story takes place three years after Reena gave birth, three years after Sawyer left town, three years into the new start Reena’s embarked on. It’s one half tale of what happened three years ago, and one half tale of the present day. Extensive flashbacks reveal the circumstances surrounding the creation of Reena and Sawyer’s child, and in the present Reena must continue with all of her responsibilities while faced with the surprise return of Sawyer to her life. How to Love is complex and dense. It made me feel a wide range of emotions and I really enjoyed it.

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  • past + present – The way this story unfolds is perfectly paced. At the start of the book, all we know is that Sawyer and Reena have a daughter, and that Reena is the one raising her. As Sawyer comes crashing back into Reena’s life in the present, we also learn all of the important details of what happened in the past. All of the various things leading up to Reena and Sawyer’s relationship are covered, as are the repercussions of their brief time together. It’s mind-boggling how well the flashbacks correspond with what’s happening currently in Reena’s life.
  • Reena’s new life – I really admire Reena’s dedication to build a life for she and Hannah. If anything, Sawyer’s absence may have actually made getting things right easier for Reena. Her family is a wonderful support system. Reena has a job, she’s going to college, she’s in a relationship, and she’s around people who love her and Hannah.
  • writing – The writing in this book is beautiful. It isn’t written in verse or anything like that, it’s just very well-written. Every event in the story feels important, and small yet significant things like facial expressions are treated as important too. Some stories are light and fluffy, but this is a deep and heartfelt story. For lack of a better way to explain it, I would compare the tone of How to Love to a Sarah Dessen book.
  • plot – We’ve all seen the movies and read the books about what happens when a teenager gets pregnant. Most of those stories end as soon as the baby is born, and many focus on dealing with oh no, what are you gonna do? This is the first story I’ve encountered that takes place so far after that time. It’s unique because it follows the time up until Reena gets pregnant, then the time when Sawyer returns, but only touches on Reena’s actual pregnancy very briefly.

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  • Reena – I’m not fond of the nickname “Reena,” especially because Serena is a lovely and unique name. Reena is a bit annoying at times, making it difficult to sympathize with her as she navigates her life. Although Reena has come so far since having Hannah, Sawyer being back in town makes Reena act like a different person and that wasn’t a person I liked much. I desperately wanted Reena to be able to ignore Sawyer and show him that she’s grown as a person while he was gone.
  • Sawyer – Sawyer swoops back into Reena’s life and starts destroying the things that she’s worked so hard to build for herself. Reena’s in a relationship, but Sawyer barely even notices. He simply assumes that she’s still his, and is as arrogant as possible while he weasels his way between Reena and Aaron. The way Sawyer acts makes me angry, especially since it seems obvious that he takes Reena for granted.

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Sawyer nods slowly. He gazes at Aaron and then at me. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” he says, the faintest hint of a smirk at the edges of his mouth.
Smug bastard. “Yup,” I say. “Bye.” I kiss Soledad and grab Aaron by the wrist, screen door smacking soundly shut behind us. I pretty much run to the car.          – pg. 93    Reena + Sawyer

“I do. I like your brain.” Sawyer grinned. “And I like the rest of you, too, if you don’t mind me saying so.”
Somewhere in my head, a little pilot in a little airplane was doing his best to prevent a fiery crash, shouting mayday with no one to hear. “Cut it out,” I managed, but by this point I wasn’t fooling either one of us.         – pg. 202     Sawyer + Reena

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4 Robots

Acquired: Bought (ebook)


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