Book Review: How To Love by Katie Cotugno

Title – Author: How To Love – Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Format – Source: ARC – Borrowed

Before: Reena loves Sawyer LeGrande, the son of her parents’ best friends. The only problem is he never seems to notice her. When he finally does, they fall in a complicated love until Sawyer takes off without a word and leaves Reena pregnant.

After: Reena loves her daughter Hannah more than anything in the world. Struggling to support her daughter while living at home and taking community college courses, Reena dreams of the day she’ll finally get to leave town and travel. When Sawyer suddenly shows up again after almost three years, Reena becomes more confused than ever.

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Everyone has been raving about this one, so I was excited to get my hands on a copy and dive in. This review is definitely going to be positive, but I don’t think I’m going to be raving.

The story caught me up immediately. It has my name written all over it, with its complicated, messy relationships. You may think this book is just about Reena and Sawyer, but there’s so much else going on in Reena’s life. I loved the exploration of all of her relationships, from the father who barely looks at her to her former best friend to her current best friend and co-worker. All are different and flawed, which I think is the major strength of this book. I can’t remember where, but I read a really interesting blog post on likable and unlikable characters. I’m in the group that thinks you don’t need likable characters to write a compelling, emotional story. I have to admit, I didn’t like either Reena or Sawyer. Reena can be destructive when it comes to her relationships and she acts like the kind of girl who fucks everything up for a boy, which I absolutely hate. Sawyer is such an asshole at times and I couldn’t understand why Reena loved him so much. They’re both such messy characters and I didn’t need to like them to be invested in their story.

Cotugno uses an interesting narrative technique where the chapters are split into before and after: before Reena got pregnant and nearly three years later. I liked seeing the two stories converge and understanding the back story of how Reena and Sawyer came together.

So why aren’t I raving like every other review I’ve read? I’m not really sure. The book is good. I’m definitely interested in more from this author. It just wasn’t a life-changing reading experience for me. And that’s ok!

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How To Love is sure to appeal to contemporary fans with its complicated characters and relationships.

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7 – really good but missing a little something – George Weasley



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