Rating: 4 Stars
Published: October 2013
Genre: Young Adult
“A future as lonely as the surface of the moon and still just the sight of him feels like a homecoming, like a song I used to know but forgot.”
“It occurs to me, not for the first time, that things change whether you’re around to notice them or not.”
“I’m not mad,” I said, and I wasn’t, really. I didn’t know exactly what I was. I couldn’t figure out how you could go from feeling so close to a person one minute to not being sure if you even knew them the next.”
How to Love by Katie Cotugno is about Serena (Reena) Montero and her mad love affair with Sawyer LeGrande. Told in present tense (After) with alternating flashback (Before) chapters, How to Love is a whirlwind of emotions that keeps you turning the page. Reena has loved Sawyer for as long as she could remember. But he never noticed her. At least, not until she was 16 and prepared to leave for college in the fall. She was on track to graduate high school a year early and couldn’t wait to start her life. Then Sawyer happened. The bad boy musician who had many problems and a need to escape of his own. When Reena finds out she’s pregnant, Sawyer disappears before she could tell him. Now, 2 years later, he’s back in Reena’s life. Meanwhile, Reena has moved on with a boy named Aaron, loves her little girl more than anything, and knows that Sawyer coming back will only be a disaster. Filled with family drama, first loves, some insight into being a teen mom, and great writing, How to Love is a must-read.
After reading the first chapter, I was hooked. The writing is just that good. I had no idea what was going to happen but I was simply captivated and wanted to devour each page. The only complaint that I have is that I had to keep reminding myself that Reena was only 18 years old. She seemed so much older than that, especially reading the parts with her daughter, Hannah. Reena is easily relatable. She makes some terrible choices in life, particularly towards Sawyer but sometimes, that’s just how it happens. I can understand being so wrapped up in someone completely it’s hard to see how choices that you’re making are actually bad.
I thought the writing was incredibly real. I really didn’t like some of the choices that Reena made but that’s just like life, isn’t it? We have no control over other people’s decisions and life is not a rom-com that ends all perfectly tied up with a bow. Some readers may be turned off from the book because of that reason, but I found it enduring. I don’t always want to read things I’m going to agree with because that would be boring. I will be keeping my eye out for this author. I can see her doing great things.