Title: How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
No. of Pages: 389
Source: Review copy
SUMMARY* - 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? *all summaries taken from Goodreads.
I received two copies of How to Love from Quercus, one of which I won from a competition (before I knew I was already getting sent a copy!) and I have wanted to read this book ever since the pre-publication buzz had started. Look at the cover*, honestly, the BACK AND THE FRONT ARE JUST BEAUTIFUL. I’m not usually one for pink/peach but I made an exception for HTL, I couldn't get enough of the cover. To tell you the truth one of the many reasons why I was sad when I finished reading the book was because I wouldn't be able to look at the cover every time I opened or closed the book. The blurb was just spot on for me honestly, not a summary of everything that happens or a few lines, but argh, I can’t even explain properly, it was like really real, if that makes sense (which it probably doesn't) but if you read the back cover you’ll see what I mean, it was such a great element to the cover too! (*I'm not actually talking about the cover shown above, although its lovely too, but there's a pink/peach edition of the book that I have.)
The book is set in consecutive chapters of Before and After (all from the point of Reena, the main character). Before involving a 15 year old Reena that falls in love with Sawyer LeGrande whilst dealing with other issues in her life at the time, and After being 3 years later where Sawyer has returned to the town, to be reunited with their daughter, Hannah. I found this style quite interesting, seeing as I had never read a book in this type of format before, and needless to say it worked well with the story, although there were a few times when the transition was a little hard to get back into the story, when we go from a very devastating piece of the story to a happy-lovey-dovey piece of it. Also, I should mention that if you aren't paying attention then the structure can get confusing.
The very first paragraph of the book had me hooked. It wasn't all THAT interesting looking back, but it still piqued my interest and made me continue reading, which is the mark of good writing in my opinion. Speaking of writing the writing in this book was just beautiful; it was a fresh experience, and most of all it was REAL. I could feel Reena really telling the story, not just some empty narrative. This novel just captivated and entranced me in a way that a love story hasn't done in quite a while; I didn't want the book to end at all. And when it inevitably did, it was heart-wrenching, but I was totally happy with the ending. There wasn't a moment when I could put the book down willingly.
The characters themselves were as real as the rest of the book; Reena, Sawyer, Cade, the entire dynamic between them all was well executed. And Sawyer again, just… dayum, we get a little bit of brooding, bad boy feel from him, but of course he plays the piano, such a beautiful instrument. Sawyer was definitely worth a few swoons but what I really admire about this book is that I didn't get the feeling that Sawyer was in the spotlight, as with a lot of romance novels where the guy is the “idol” of the “damsel” and it’s all about him. But How to Love explored the relationships between Reena, her parents, her friends. It explored death and grief. I don’t mean this in a bad way at all, but even though Sawyer was the love interest I loved the fact that he didn’t take up as much of the book as he COULD have.
4 Bookish Birds