Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: How to Love, by Katie Cotugno @katiecotugno

I am not usually a big fan of typical teen romance books, but How To Love is so much more. I adored this book.

How to Love is told from the first person POV of Reena. But we still get two perspectives: Before and After. "Before" is Reena falling in love with Sawyer, a bad boy who she's known since she was a little girl because their families own a restaurant together. "After" is when Sawyer reappears after apparently disappearing for several years without a word to anyone.

A lot has happened in those years, but the biggest thing is that Reena has had Sawyer's baby. She's lost her dream to go to college and become a travel writer. She's pretty much lost her father because he can't forgive Reena for getting pregnant at the age of 16.

So you can imagine there are some uneasy moments when Sawyer reappears.

The characterizations are exceptional. I didn't like Sawyer. He has problems, and he's not very nice to Reena sometimes. But I don't think we're supposed to like him. I really got angry with Reena too. She simply overlooks Sawyer's problems and lets him walk all over her. But she's SIXTEEN years old, and the guy she's had a crush on forever is finally paying attention to her. I think her behavior is fairly typical for a very young teen in this situation.

The emotional growth and maturity these characters experience during the "After" is also a dream to read. They struggle. A lot. And they should. All of the family issues and some pretty big issues from the past need to be dealt with before these two can move on. Everything isn't perfect at the end of How to Love, but it's getting better, and there's lots of hope.

I guess the only aspect I can say I had problems with is Hannah, the baby. She's just too easy, and Reena seems to be too good at being a teen mother. There's always someone to leave her with; she always goes to bed when she's supposed to. She accepts Sawyer (and pretty much any stranger) too easily -- kind of a dream baby. This is a minor issue though and didn't really affect How to Love at all.

Teen contemporary fans should not overlook How to Love. Sarah Dessen fans will love this. I can't wait to start handing it to them.

Published by Balzer + Bray, October 1, 2013
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
400 pages

Rating: 5/5





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4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review! I was curious about this one when I first read about it on EW. It seems like realistic fiction is all the rage now which I don't mind as long as they are done well. They can make a powerful impact if they come across as genuine. I'll be sure to look this one up.

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  2. This does sound really good, Annette. I love stories with lots of character development, particularly maturity and emotional growth, and How to Love seems to hit the mark. It says something that you adore this book and don't like one of the main characters. I'll be sure to give this one a shot. Thanks for a great review!

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  3. I'm not a fan of reading about Teen pregnancies, but you make this story sound extremely exciting and appealing for me. I love a romance that grows, that has problems and where people have to fight to be together! Maybe I pic it up after all!

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  4. After reading so many rave reviews of this, I put it on my TBR pile, but now I'm thinking I should move it up so I can read it sooner. It sounds wonderful! I'm a huge Dessen fan, so it's not hard to get me to read something if it's been compared to one of her books. Lovely review!

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