How to Love by Katie Cotugno | BOOK REVIEW

How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Publisher/Year: Balzer + Bray October 1st 2013
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary
Series: Nope
Other Books From Author: DEBUT AUTHOR =)

Amazon | Goodreads | @katiecotugno |

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?

Long before its release, I’ve heard AMAZING things about this book. There’d be this period of time when How to Love was on everyone’s Waiting on Wednesday post, it was crazily hyped! I found it enjoyable, but more overwhelmingly, it was frustrating for me.

I REALLY HATED THE MAIN CHARACTER!! Okay. I don’t hate her, okay. I’m really frustrated with her. So many of Reena’s problems could have been solved easily by speaking. She could have just talked to Allie. She could have just talked to her dad. She could have been honest about her feelings. There were so many easy things she could have explained IN 3 SECONDS, BUT SHE DIDN’T.

I understand some of her insecurities because um, teen pregnancy? That’s an ordeal. Reena is brave in her ways, putting up with the judgement of her neighbours and giving up her dreams for her child. I just wished she didn’t turn into a pile of mess the moment Sawyer LeGrande came back into the picture!!! SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF REENA. HE’S SOME STUPID JERK. MAD. MAD. MAD.

Don’t even talk to me about Sawyer LeGrande. That kid. I WANT TO STAB HIM SO BAD!!!!! Check Goodreads and you’ll see that for a lot of people, Sawyer LeGrande was the “make it or break it” factor. I don’t see how it’s attractive for a guy to convince you to skip class, to take drugs, to leave town the moment he got you pregnant. I don’t see how she had a reason to love him in the first place! He was never sweet to her, never kind to her, and he just kept pressurizing Reena to do things that she didn’t want. Don’t you see, Sawyer? She’s feeling miserable. GET OUT OF YOUR DICKHEAD and think for her, to love her because you want her to be happy, not to make yourself happy.

To be honest, I’m not comfortable with the subject of teenage pregnancy. Unwed and pregnant at 16 just… feels… wrong?! I thought I wasn’t going to like the characters at all, I mean, why would you do that? I still don’t like the characters very much, but at least on the issue of pregnancy, I can sympathize with Reena’s struggles in the aftermath. She’s so clueless as a teenage mom, and there was this scene when she cussed loudly in front of her baby and felt bad immediately. LOL

I’m sorry this became more of a book ramble. I was too frustrated with most of the characters in this book. I get that there are couples out there who behave like Reena and Sawyer, but I don’t believe this is how to love. =( I liked some parts, didn’t like so much of others. It was overall realistic, fun to read, well-timed Before and After chapters… I JUST DIDN’T AGREE WITH THE IDEA OF LOVE HERE!!!!!

I’m conflicted… what are your thoughts on this book? What do you think of Sawyer?


20 thoughts on “How to Love by Katie Cotugno | BOOK REVIEW

  1. Goodness, well rather a hit or miss isn’t it? ><
    But I think I would feel rather icky reading this one with the *cough* oddball characters… Teehee. They really don't sound appealing… especially the Sawyer. So don't worry, we're on the same team ;) A lot of people liked it, but I don't think it's meant for us, yeah?
    And LOL! What would our moms think of this?? xD
    But great review, Alicia! It's also great to see you back <3

    • LOL “the” Sawyer =P I’m sorry I got all worked up in the review because!!!!! I REALLY CAN’T!!! If a Sawyer LeGrande ever appears in my life, he’s so screwed man. While I was reading, I saw a few Twitter friends raving over it and I thought “Okay, I’m just starting out, sounds like an awesome read!”

      *gua gua gua…*

      I won’t highly recommend it at any extent haha, and my mom probably won’t either! Thank you for dropping by Emily! HAPPY HOLIDAYS~~

  2. Love your rating system! “Casually dating” xD Annoying main characters are the absolute worst, especially considering you have to deal with them the whole novel ha. I’ve read some amazing reviews on this one too but now I want to skip it because everything you disliked I generally tend to dislike as well!

    • Thank you! =) AND I CAN’T AGREE MORE TO THAT! No matter how unique or mindblowing the plot is, if I don’t like the characters, there’s no way I’ll stand being in their heads for the next 300 pages. Praises for How to Love convinced me to pick it up but turns out I didn’t like it as much as most did =P

  3. Hmmm, this doesn’t sound very good at all. I can’t stand when characters don’t speak up. I read a book where every bad thing could have easily been prevented if the girl just spoke up, it was super frustrating so I totally understand where you’re coming from! Plus Sawyer sounds like a massive jerk so ya, not really the type of “love” I’m looking to read about.

    • yes to all that! A good number of authors tend to make their female lead a meek, quiet, shy character, and I’m fine with that because not everyone is loud and outspoken.


      Even when the character is pushed to the edge, she doesn’t retaliate or fight for her life. COME ON IT’S A LIFE OR DEATH PROBLEM. SAY SOMETHING!! It makes me so frustrated and times like this make me want to give her a good shake!! Ugh. Sawyer. Some find him endearing but certainly not me!

  4. Hmm. I really think that the idea of teen pregnancy makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I haven’t read very many good reviews for this one, which I’m not gonna lie – kind of upsets me! It looks so good, and the fact that it sucked… just… sucks! LOL.

    I’m sorry that Reena wasn’t a good main character for you, and that the love interest was a jerk. I sometimes wonder why bad guy love interests are idolized, even if there are some that I love to death. Sorry that you didn’t love this one! Awesome review. ;)

    • yeah well… I grew up in an Asian society, so stories of “15 and pregnant” don’t sit well with the values inculcated in me. Hmm from what I heard, seems like there are more positive reviews for this one, I thought myself the odd one out! =P The cover really stands out for me though, it looks MINTY and clean, a very refreshing change to the slew of YA covers! If you do decide to pick this up, hopefully you’ll find the characters more enjoyable!

  5. There has been so much excitement for How to Love that of course I want to get my hands on a copy. But I just realized as I read your review, I had no idea what the book was about. The reviews from all of my friends were very positive. From what you have said though, I think this book would be a less than stellar read. It’s so frustrating when the love interest is a complete jerk and the main character is a pushover who doesn’t stand up for herself.

    • I generally try not to read the blurb/spoil myself too much before reading, so I didn’t know what this was about either. Other than the teen preganancy thing. I’ve been hearing quite a mix of reviews for this one, but I won’t be accepting Sawyer anytime soon so =P

  6. Hm, mixed reviews about this book. After reading your review, I don’t think I’ll pick it up and read it. However, it’s good to have you back, Alicia!

  7. I actually loved and hated this book at the same time. I’m pretty sure that this book deserved one star because of Sawyer, I wanted to stab, strangle, mutilate his body and dump it in the ocean. But, in the end, I don’t why, he won my heart. I don’t know what is wrong with me but I really do loved and hated this book. The alternating chapters was so fun to read because we get to see the development of the characters.

    I have nothing against your review because I so totally agree with you. Haha

    • XD I KNOW RIGHT. I had a bad feeling about Sawyer since page 1, and though the ending shed some light on him like you said… It was too *abrupt* for me to make a 180 degrees turn and accept that jerk. Maybe some day I’ll reread…? Haha I get what you mean though!

  8. i mean i get what your saying but look at this way if she really did love him yu except them no mattter what in life yes sawyer was a big JERk but she loved him do i thin kthe title is right for the book no and on reena caswmybe she was to shy not all people like to speak there minds i mean yes she had a breakingpoint in the book you would to if some one dont that to your baby!!!!!!! just saying look at it in other peoples review!!!!!

    • Hi Deanna! I’m sorry we don’t agree with each other on this book =(

      I believe that no matter how much you love a person, say your parents, if they do something wrong, you have to try to help them. Change them for the better because you love them. I understand that Reena loves Sawyer, but her love has clouded her of all judgements, so she lets Sawyer fall deeper and deeper into the path of drugs and teenage pregnancy. YES, that is one kind of love. I’m completely with you that this book portrays said way of love very realistically from the eyes of Reena and Sawyer.

      Then now we have to think again. With a title “How To Love”, is THIS the message we’d like to convey to readers?

      Reena is self-effacing character, and it’s probably harsh of me to demand for her to be outspoken. The whole time I was reading this book, a part of me just kept egging Reena on to speak her thoughts, yet it never happened. I had hoped that there would be a change in her, some coming-of-age tale, especially since she’s now a mom. We are different readers and we expect different things from our book characters so, PEACE OUT =)

  9. Oh my god. I actually loved this book, it’s one of my favorite reads of 2013. I don’t know, I think even though Reena’s problems could’ve been solved easily it didn’t feel like that to her. I feel like most problems have an easy and logical solution but it never feels like when it’s your problem and you’re in the middle of it. Also about Sawyer, I think he acts like a dick because of Allie. I’m not saying that justifies his behavior but I’m not going to crucify him for it either. But I really liked your review. It makes sense. I just feel like this is one of the best teen books out there.

    • I wish I enjoyed this book like you, and so many others, did but there are things in my beliefs and value system that don’t align with it. I had hoped to see a development in Reena/Sawyer, some change to the way they deal with their problems. Hmm. The ending felt more like a compromise to their situation than anything else, couldn’t convince myself to accept it!

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