Monday, March 24, 2014
Book Review: HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno
HOW TO LOVE is told from two different places in time: After and Before. After-Reena is eighteen and raising her toddler-aged daughter, Hannah, just fine as a single mother (with help from her parents). Then Hannah's runaway father, Sawyer LeGrande, appears back in town after almost three years away. Reena had never even told him she was pregnant. Before-Reena is three years younger and has been in love with bad boy Sawyer for as long as she can remember. But he has never noticed her...until one day he finally does. Their romance is a slightly toxic whirlwind that leaves Reena pregnant and Sawyer on his way out of town.
The book is really two love stories in one. We watch these two characters fall in love twice, their second path much different from their first. The two storylines didn't seem repetitive to me at all. After-Reena is a completely different character than Before-Reena; she's brutally honest, a little harsh, and protective of her daughter. Before-Reena is more of the typical YA Innocent Female who falls into the relationship with the bad boy. I definitely preferred reading the After sections, because I enjoyed seeing how Reena has matured because of her first relationship with Sawyer and her life with Hannah.
I also like After-Sawyer much more than Before-Sawyer. I rooted for him when Reena tried to deny him a second chance. Before-Sawyer was mysterious and cool, but I wanted to smack him MANY TIMES, especially in the second half of the book when their relationship started going downhill.
There is a strong sense of place and setting, which I really loved, especially since setting is often under-utilized in many contemporary YA books that I've read. Details of hot, sticky Florida are woven through every chapter. One line I loved was, "Summer in Broward County is brutal and haunted, all palm trees and the green tangle of sea grapes wound around the grotto on the lawn." LOVE.
I was super happy with how the book ended. It was a sweet contemporary read with strong writing and a mastery of two storylines in one. I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a romantic read with lots of ups and downs!
Have you read HOW TO LOVE? What were your thoughts on the two story arcs? Did you fall in love with Sawyer or not?