Published by Balzer & Bray on October 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: 99 Days
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Reena has been in love Sawyer for as long as she can remember as their parents were friends before they were even born. They’ve never been anything more than childhood playmates until one night, when she least expects it, when something happens between them and they find themselves in love — a very messy and imperfect love that is beyond complicated. A story that becomes more complicated when Reena finds herself pregnant and Sawyer has left town. Fast forward a couple years and Reena has had her daughter and is settled into her life now — going to community college, dating and living with her parents. Things are going well, for the most part, until Sawyer shows up in town unexpected. Reena resolves to stay away from him but the pull that has always been there threatens to crumble her resolve.
I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. One one hand I’m furious with myself for waiting this long to read it but on the other hand I needed this book right now. You may have known I was in a bit of a “THIS IS SO NOT ME” reading year so far in 2014 and I really just needed a book to blow me away. How To Love by Katie Cotugno did the trick — along with another book that I will be talking about soon!
Why was it so awesome?
1. It completely destroyed my thought of “Ehh this is a novel about teen pregnancy” pretty early on: First, this book was SO much more than that. If you looked at this book like “oh god this is going to be a teen pregnancy issue-y book or like a rerun of Teen Mom”…NO..Just NO. It’s a complicated story about love, second chances and forgiveness. Reena may have a baby but this book is so much more than the cliched teen pregnancy stories I’ve come across.
2. I haven’t compulsively read a book like this in a while: I was seriously reading every moment I could — on my phone when I had a few seconds and I even woke up at 5:30 am so I could read it. I think it’s partly in the way it’s told in addition to the fact I was so into the story. It alternate between “Before” and “After”. The Before shows her and Sawyer’s past and really who she was before she got pregnant. The “After” is a couple years later when Sawyer comes back into town and we see she’s already settled into life as a mom. The unraveling of their story was just so gripping and Katie Cotugno gets you BAD with the ending of each chapter. I was RAVENOUS for more. She’d end, let’s say, the BEFORE chapter on a note where I was tempted to just skip the AFTER chapter because I HAD to know what happened next (and vice versa — each one was equally compelling). There are so few books that hook me so bad that after EACH chapter I can’t imagine putting it down. That’s a problem when life demands you still must exist outside of those pages!
3. Reena & Sawyer were two incredibly REAL characters & drew me into their story: These are characters that are going to piss you off probably at times, they are flawed, they are real and they don’t always make the right choice. I LOVED THAT. I don’t know if it’s an unpopular opinion but I LOVED SAWYER. I didn’t always LIKE him and the things he did but I felt the chemistry between them and that there was more to Sawyer. Sometimes I was so frustrated but I felt like I could feel Reena’s resolve not to give into Sawyer but, like Reena, I felt it all crumble. I just loved being tangled in Reena and Sawyer’s messy and complex love story. It was breathtaking at times, I cried, I fumed but I just felt what it was like to be young again and thinking with your heart and sometimes making those mistakes to learn and grow. I also really loved their individual growth — that aspect of the story was just important to me as their love story. They got second chances, opportunities for forgiveness and to come to terms with the past. Also, as a sidenote, I LOVED their banter.
How To Love by Katie Cotugno is a book that shot a line straight to my heart from the beginning and I was so thoroughly enchanted with Reena and Sawyer’s messy yet utterly romantic story that I kept sneaking in moments whenever I could and even set an alarm for 5:30am so I could squeeze in more time. It was beautiful, heartbreaking at times and made my heart just feel so full as I watched these wonderfully flawed characters unravel before me and build themselves back up. I mega loved this book and highly recommend it. Don’t be turned off by the thought that it might be a cliched “teenage pregnancy issues” book because that is NOT at all what this book is.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it?