Review: How to Love

How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Release Date ~ October 1, 2013
Balzer + Bray ~ HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780062216359
ARC received from HarperCollins Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
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?
In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

This is not your traditional love story. Reena and Sawyer's relationship is far from picture perfect. It is messy and real, and we're privy to the very raw emotions Reena experiences as she first connects and then reconnects with Sawyer.

Reena's experiences are going to feel very personal for many readers, I bet. And the story is an honest account of what happened to Reena and how she reacted, as opposed to any sort of moral reflection of the choices made.

  1. Authentic characters:

    These characters are laid out for us, flaws and all. I didn't always like the characters, and I didn't always like what they did. I feel the same way about people in real life. They make bad decisions, and we have to deal with the consequences right along with them.
  2. The significance of free will:

    In fact, I think the whole story is about the bad decisions we make, the people they affect, and how we can all choose to respond to those choices. It's like a domino effect, how each decision has a ripple effect on so many others.
  3. A microcosm of real life:

    I've very rarely read a book that is so honest. I truly believe that not every negative experience is bad through and through (and vice versa with positive experiences). It just isn't that black and white. I loved that How to Love showed us the good parts of Reena's life with her daughter, and the hard parts as well. 

And just like this isn't your traditional love story, I'd say it isn't your traditional ending either. It left me feeling like the ending was a little bit off. Frankly, the relationship between Reena and Sawyer was troubling to me, and I'm not entirely sure whether that was intentional or not.

This ending was the worst part of the book for me, because nothing felt wrapped up. I didn't feel as if decisions had been made, as much as they had just been put off. Maybe it's just that the decisions weren't satisfying to me.


ChristasBooks said...

I have complicated feelings about this book actually had to DNF it. I liked how honest it was regarding Reena's struggles but I found Sawyer to be an absolutely horrible person and that kind of detracted from the falling in love bit.

Wendy Darling said...

I'm going to echo Christa above me and say that I had complicated feelings about this book, too--almost everyone else has loved it, and I ended up with much more middling reactions. I agree that the characters weren't always likeable--it bothered me SO much that Reena let Sawyer back in so quickly, and that she repeatedly made decisions that were potentially hurtful to the people around her. I'm definitely in the minority on this, though, and I genuinely did like the voice quite a lot.

Appreciated hearing your point of view. It's definitely not a traditional love story at all.

Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

Maji Bookshelf said...

I loved this book so much.. like unbelievably much.. I actually quite enjoyed the ending.. Because the book felt honest all the way and the ending fit that too.. not everything gets wrapped up nicely so even though I'm a huge HEA girl, I was happy with this ending :P

- Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

Michelle (A Thousand Lives Lived) said...

I heard that this is one of the best books of 2013. I liked how you said that it wasn't cheesy or traditional, and that's definitely what I'm looking for. Thank you!

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