Monday, January 6, 2014

Review of How to Love by Katie Cotugno

 How to LoveBefore: 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.


(Summary from GoodReads)


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I love a good contemporary, and when I heard the premise of How to Love, I thought it sounded fantastic.  I heard great things about it from other bloggers and was lucky enough to score a digital galley.  How to Love took me very little time, because I found the story engrossing, but I ultimately didn’t care for the romantic plotline.

I view How to Love as a book with two stories, and while it did have before and after sections, that’s not what I’m referring to. There’s the story of Reena and her daughter, Hannah, and the story of Reena and Sawyer.  The extent of my experience with teen pregnancy is Teen Mom, the depiction of it here seemed realistic.  Hannah is a beloved and cared for child, but there is still tension between Reena and her father.  Reena’s also trying to figure out what she can do in terms of her aspirations, education, and career with a little kid in the picture. 

Reena is a well-developed character with interests, motives, and emotions, but I wasn’t as impressed with Sawyer’s character development.  I knew a little bit about his problems and why he wasn’t always reliable, but I felt like I never learned what made him tick, what truly motivated him.  Every time there was a scene with him and Reena, it was driven by chemistry between them.  Chemistry is absolutely necessary in fueling a romantic relationship, but there also needs to be more than that, and it wasn’t there in Sawyer and Reen’s relationship.

How to Love wasn’t a total waste of a book.  It read quickly, and the prose was lovely in places, creating vivid images of the landscape.  I guess I disagree with the rave reviews so many people have given this one because I didn’t care for the love story.  Since finding Contugno’s debut only okay seems to put me in the minority, I’d check out reviews by bloggers you trust before deciding whether or not to read it.  I will say that I loved Magan’s post on how relatable she found thisbook as a foster mom, and if nothing else, I’d take a peek at that.

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2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your honest review about this one! I was on the fence (and still am) because I can't tell if it's something I'd actually enjoy reading, but you do a good job of highlighting the good and mentioning where it isn't so strong.

    I am such a hard core character development fan, so that may ultimately drive me away. But we shall see!

    I DO LOVE THAT COVER THOUGH.

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  2. I ended up liking this one more than I thought I would. I never felt any real chemistry between Sawyer and Reena the first time they fell in love. I thought that was infatuation on Reena's part and Sawyer just going along because he was getting laid and Reena was easy for him to necessarily to use or take advantage of her, but just live the life he wants with her waiting for him.

    I really fell for the writing and the tone of the story, it just totally sucked me in. I also really love stories of couples reuniting after badly breaking up. I don't know why, but it tugs at something inside of me. Even though for most of the book I thought Sawyer was an enormous loser I still wanted them to get back together.

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