Book Review: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Reading Level: YA
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Release Date: October 1st 2013
Review Source: HarperTeen

Summary: (from goodreads) 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.

At first glance How To Love has a very simple cover, simple title, but emotional story line. I expected a cute little novel where girl meets boy, develops a crush, girl and boy become a couple and the rest is history. Not even close. Katie Cotugno creates a deep emotional storyline filled with heartache, love, and second chances. How To Love is written with before and after features, giving the reader an extreme amount of back story woven in with the present day.

Reena and Sawyer are the main characters, connected in life by a business that is shared by both their fathers. Practically growing up together, Reena developed a crush for Sawyer that she never voiced or brought to light. As the years went by Reena's crush for Sawyer only grew deeper. Unfortunately, her best friend was first in line for capturing Sawyer's attention. Unexpected events finally bring Reena and Sawyer together for life. Can this new connection be enough to keep them together?

Cotugno's realistic development of characters and realistic settings create a stage that readers are able to make real life connections to life experiences. This novel almost feels as if it has a new adult genre of words. As you read you watch the main characters grow throughout the entire novel. At times, it was so packed with details and back story, that I almost found myself putting the novel down for a quick break. But Reena's story would continue to call my name until I reached the last page.

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