How to Love

How to Love

4.1 48
by Katie Cotugno
     
 

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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

Overview

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 life 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/19/2013
There’s a big gap between where 18-year-old Reena Montero expected to be and where she is. Instead of studying journalism at Northwestern after graduating from high school a year early, she’s living with her parents in hot, sticky Florida, taking courses at the local community college and caring for her toddler, Hannah. It’s not what Reena planned, but she’s making the best of it. Then her one love—Hannah’s father, Sawyer LeGrande—comes back to town. In a confident debut, Cotugno structures Reena’s story in alternating “before” and “after” chapters that explain how Reena and Sawyer got together, what brought them to where they are now, and where they could end up, maybe, if they can push through a tangle of guilt, anger, and complicated family connections. Cotugno draws even the minor characters well, and although Sawyer, as a reformed bad boy, is something of a stock figure, Reena is complex and appealing. It’s impossible not to root for the two of them to beat the odds. Ages 14–up. Agent: Alloy Entertainment. (Oct.)
VOYA - Meghann Meeusen
Reena Montero never understood Sawyer LeGrande's powerful effect on her, but she certainly feels the crushing blow when he leaves town, unaware that she is pregnant with their daughter, Hannah. Reena and Sawyer's relationship has always been difficult and emotional, both when they first fell in love amidst the tragedy of losing a dear friend, and also when Sawyer returns years later, and Reena finds herself falling for him all over again. Conflicted between her seemingly uncontrollable emotions and her regrets over past choices, Reena struggles to know if she can have everything she wants from her life even though it has not followed the path she intended. How To Love chronicles two story lines in alternating chapters—"before" Sawyer leaves and "after" Sawyer's return. Yet these stories follow similar courses, wherein Reena realizes that loving Sawyer is not really a choice at all, even though their relationship is often destructive. The story travels through many common adolescent troupes—a love triangle, drunk driving, the good girl and bad boy, drugs, teen pregnancy, escaping small town life to see the world, and overcoming parent/adult conflict after a brush with death. This, at times, seems to condemn teenage choices by showing intense consequences, but also celebrates teen love and all of its messiness. While the text misses opportunities to complicate gender roles or romantic relationships, readers looking for a story of whirlwind passion amongst teen angst and a happily-ever-after drive into the sunset will not be disappointed. Reviewer: Meghann Meeusen
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
Gr 9 Up—Sawyer LaGrande's unexplained disappearance rocked Serena Montero's world. It was love at first sight, and then he ran away and left her pregnant. Now he's back in town and ready to pick up where they left off. Serena, however, has a steady boyfriend and is now the mother of a two-year-old. She had to repair her broken heart and make peace with her very Catholic father, who does not approve of her out-of-wedlock child. She is older and wiser, but Sawyer was the love of her life. Will she make the same mistake twice? The language and content of this novel will appeal to teens, but the structure is an issue. Every other chapter is a flashback, making the plot seem choppy and disjointed. The portrayal of a Catholic Hispanic family in modern-day Florida is refreshing, but the shuffling between the present and the past may make it hard for readers to lose themselves in the characters. The story's mood is rather depressing; Serena deals with the death of her mother, the death of her best friend, Sawyer's abandonment, her child, her family's disapproval, and her father's heart attack. Yet, despite her struggles, she is still able to find her silver lining at the end of the story. How to Love may not appeal to a wide audience, but patrons who read and enjoyed Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster (S & S, 2012) will find Sawyer and Serena's frustrating relationship familiar.—Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-01
Fifteen-year-old Reena dreams of graduating early from high school and studying at Northwestern to become a travel writer, but all that takes a back seat when her forever crush, Sawyer LeGrande, turns his green-eyed gaze on her. Reena, a self-professed ice queen, has managed to keep her feelings about Sawyer to herself, but when he begins dating her best friend, Allie, everything comes rushing to the surface. A tragic event nearly derails Reena and Sawyer's romance before it can begin, but an irresistible chemistry pulls them together despite their sorrow. Reena falls fast and hard for Sawyer, but he is caught in a downward spiral of addiction that threatens to pull both of them under. Believing a separation is best for them both, Sawyer disappears for two years, leaving Reena alone and pregnant. "Before" chapters chronicle Reena and Sawyer's tumultuous romance, while "After" chapters tell of Sawyer's return and Reena's simultaneous attempts to punish him or forgive him. The clunky back-and-forth construction robs the story of its heart, throwing Reena's emotional stagnation and Sawyer's complete turnaround into question. The undeniably passionate relationship feels as flat and immature in the end as when it began. Ambitious, but sadly disconnected and undeveloped. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Carolyn Mackler
“There are those novels, once in a spectacular blue moon, that just feel perfect. HOW TO LOVE is that book. Perfect.”
Siobhan Vivian
“HOW TO LOVE is epic. I crushed so hard on this book. A roller coaster ride with all the euphoric highs and the stomach-dropping lows of falling in love. The writing is as beautiful as the love story. I adored it!”
Booklist
“Cotugno’s debut ambitiously, and intriguingly, follows a couple who fall in love twice, over two different time periods.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A vibrant, sparkling narrative of first love and second chances - will remind you that love isn’t ever easy, but falling for a great story is.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062216359
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
478,936
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
HL790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Katie Cotugno is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in Mississippi Review, Apalachee Review, Iowa Review, and Argestes, among other literary magazines, as well as on Nerve.com. Her first novel was How to Love. She lives in Boston with her husband, Tom.

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How to Love 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 48 reviews.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars! Let me start at the beginning… I LOVE this cover. The simplistic colors and fonts definitely had me intrigued the first time I saw it. I’m a huge contemp fan, and this cover just SCREAMS contemp! How to Love flip-flops between Before and After, telling the story of Reena and her love for a boy named Sawyer. The flip-flopping is something I usually really enjoy in a book. I’d much rather see for myself what happened in the past, rather than having the author simply tell me. But this back and forth was a bit too sharp for my taste. Though each chapter begins with a “before” or “after” mention, I often got confused between the two and felt I was pulled from the story too much. I have this semi weird obsession with pregnancy and babies in books. I really enjoy them. Though this story was a bit tough for me because it seemed like the most important questions remained untold. It is never discussed exactly how or when Reena got pregnant. It’s kind of just mentioned as a fact, and left alone. I would have loved to hear more about the pregnancy itself, not just the fact that it happened and now Reena is a mother to an adorable little girl, Hannah. Sawyer and Reena were tough characters for me. Though I did feel for Reena and understand where she was coming from with all of her pent-up anger, she at times went a little overboard. Sawyer… well, that boy just annoyed me to my very core. And again, some of this may be due to the narrator reading it the way she did. Sawyer was just FAR too conceited and overly dramatic for my taste. He irked me to no end. I had trouble seeing what Reena ever saw in him to begin with, so at times I didn’t believe in the relationship between the two. I don’t want this to seem like too negative of a review, because overall it was a good story. The concept and storyline carried with it a strong message about everlasting love. It was sweet, and at times very sad. If I hadn’t read this book, I know I would still be wishing I had. I’ve seen others mention this book as a story of “true love against all odds” and honestly, that’s exactly what this is. A YA romance packed with all the feels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much and am so sad I finished it. It is a great story and I hope there is a sequel that is just as good! Katie Cotugno is a great new author and I love her book, I can't wait for her to write more! I hate reading but I love this book so much and had to force myself to stop reading or else I would be caught up in Reena and Sawyer's life and wouldn't be able to get anything done! Please write more books Katie, I love this one to death and I can't help feeling I've lost a part of me after finishing this book, I love it too much!
DahlELama More than 1 year ago
I feel the need to open by saying that I loved this book. I gave it five stars and I mean all of them. The way I can tell a book's really got me is when I read it with a certain trepidation that it won't be long enough, and I had that feeling with this one from such an early point, and it *isn't* a short book. That said, this isn't a "universal love" kind of book. I've seen theories on what divides its lovers from its haters, and here's mine: Whether or not you love this book will depend on how you prize likability vs. realism in characters. For example, if you hated THE DISENCHANTMENTS because you hated Bev, this probably isn't the book for you. Sawyer LeGrande is not your book boyfriend. Reena Montero isn't a preternaturally mature main character who makes all the right decisions either before or after. The parents aren't perfect, nor are they villains. And the best friendship is neither the kind you want to emulate nor one that's ignored for the convenience of not having to write in an extra person for a few chapters. This is a book about people, and the complicated ways we love them, and want to love them, and try to love them, and wish they were to make it easier to love them. If it were a straight-up romance that offered no relationships in any depth other than the main character and her love interest, I'd be giving a very different rating. But it isn't. There are so many different relationships to follow in HOW TO LOVE, and I felt each one had its nuances, and realistic portrayals that never felt overly convenient. Of course Sawyer isn't who she should want, but I strongly feel he's who she would want. And yes, I'm very much pro giving people a chance to prove they aren't who they used to be, and while there are definite hints of the Before Sawyer in the After Sawyer, they were the parts she'd always loved, the ones that made her happy. So while I didn't love Sawyer the way I love, say, Jonah Griggs or John After, I was definitely in the camp that was rooting for him to get one more shot. A big key for me with regard to Sawyer in the context of this book, and why I disagree with comparisons of him to other generally screwed-up characters, is that I think Cotugno did a great job of ensuring he wasn't glamorized. One of my favorite parts of the book, though obviously sad, is the Allie-Reena-Sawyer triangle, and how Allie warns Reena that he isn't what they thought he'd be, and Reena reflects on this later. It's a clear statement that Sawyer LeGrandeTM is a fantasy, that he's not happiness and perfection and lifeblood rolled into one hot teenage boy, and I appreciated that so much, as I did Reena's final cutting line to him in the Before. Speaking of "the Before," I have to admit that I generally don't care for this kind of structure, and in the beginning, I didn't here either, but it grew on me far faster than most. Finally, I give major props to Cotugno for boldly going where so few YA writers ever seem to go - giving a family religion without making it their raison d'etre. Does it add to the conflict some? Yes. But is it a major plot point, and would it have changed anything if she'd left it out? Not really. And that's why I love this book so much - it's not convenient. It's not easy. It doesn't ignore relationships where they would be, be them between parent-child or family-God. It's about all the relationships that play into real life and major decisions, and it does so with what I feel is a rarely seen honesty that's true to both the characters and adolescence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read enjoyed the characters and story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! You should read this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normally, I don't post reviews but I feel the need to warn the public not to waste their time on this book. Both characters are going nowhere in life and their definition of "love" is horrible! There are so many better books you could read than this one. It is unrealistic and it left me with just this horrible feeling. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book reminded me why i love contempary books so much. They go into real things that can relatable to the reader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really did like this book. It wasn't the light, love book that I had hoped but it still turned out really good. It was deep, and at times very comical.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing and hard to put down. I fell in love with Renna and Sawyer's story. So many OMG moments and red bull nights ( for me) lol. I can't wait for more of Kate's work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
perfect book.. engulfs you in and makes you keep reading the beginning was slow.. took me a while to get to the through the first few chapters but then i got hooked and finished it in no time. the story line is honestly just amazing. although many people may disagree, i loved sawyer. at times he wasnt very good to Reena, but by the end we realize he actually loved her way more than he ever showed. many twists and surprises that make you wanna keep reading. cotugno sews together a fantastic story. the characters are just perfect. sawyer and reenas love is just addicting. no matter how many times they fight or disagree, the way they interact with each other shows they really do love each other. they often spoke sarcastic to each other but it was clear they were meant for each other. If youre looking for the perfect romance young love book.. THIS IS IT. thank you katie cotugno for debuting such a great book
MyHeartHeartsBooks More than 1 year ago
How to Love is just one of those amazing stories that you don't come across everyday, that you don't know you need, until you start reading it. Before I even finished the very first chapter, I knew that it was journey that I hadn't even realized I was waiting for. It so refreshing and wise and just so true. How to Love is one of my new personal favorites, and hands down my favorite novel of the year. As soon I finished it, I started over, and did it again because I wasn't prepared to live in a world that Sawyer and Reena are just characters in a book. My favorite things about it, is that I think both Sawyer and Reena are so messed up. They try to keep it contained to themselves, but they can't. They hurt each other in little ways that they don't realize but at the same time, they know each other better than anyone else. At first I was so determined to hate Sawyer because of his actions in the present and in the past, but then I realized, yes, he messed up epically, but so does Reena, usually in a less obvious way. After awhile, you kind of think that they really aren't meant to be together, but then you get these glimpse of when they get it right. Those moments make it all seem worth it, and besides it kind of seems like they gravitate towards each other, in a truly romantic way, that's also a little heart breaking, because they keep getting it wrong. The thing that I respect most is how Cotugno handles teenage pregnancy. It's not the end of the world but at the same time it's not idealized. Reena is good mom. A responsible teen mom that puts the needs of her daughter before anything else. It's just a honest view about teenage pregnancy that I haven't come around in other YA books that deal with similar subject matter or on television or in movies. Teenage pregnancy isn't a fairy tale but it isn't a death sentence, at least the way Cotugno portrays it. Reena just has to sacrifice a lot for her daughter, including Reena's dream of getting out and away. I loved every single second of How To Love. It's one of my new all time favorites. Everyone one is just so human for better or worse. I'm definitely a fan of Katie Cotugno and I whole heartedly and unabashedly am telling you this is one of those books that you need to read. ARC provided by Publisher at BEA.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    This is a very engrossing book. It is a theme that has been done before but what makes this story special are the characters.       The main character, Reena, had a compelling voice. She felt so natural as a character and since she doesn't like the party scene and is more quiet, book smart, and to herself, I def related to her. Her strength isn't found in balls to the wall kick ass, or fiestiness, although you find that some in a sarcastic way, but sometimes she just wins arguments in her head, not aloud, allowing her best friend to save face. She gets herself in a hard spot, with a daughter from the boy she grew up falling in love with who finally found her only to disappear.      When the boy, now young man, Sawyer, comes back in town, there is delicious awkwardness. Reena is understandably hurt and holding him at an arm's length. She doesn't know if he will disappear, and since the narration goes from one time (before) to another (after) I know that there is some unresolved feelings. But she does have a whole new life, and even a boyfriend who makes her happy and doesn't judge. Speaking of the time shifts, they are written very well, and flow seamlessly. It never jarred me and I was always able to keep up with what happened before or after.     I couldn't help but keep Aaron, the current after boyfriend at an arm's length because the synopsis implies that we get to see Sawyer and Reena fall in love again.I didn't want my heart broken falling for him and I didn't want the poor guy to get hurt. But I also just couldn't completely fall for Sawyer either because he really just seemed like a big jerk. I totally understand that he was in pain, that him and his parents had problems, he suffered a loss, but when he came back (which I never really understood why he left so suddenly and no one knew how to get in touch with him, almost seems like plot device.) he was such a jerk to Reena. Though I have to at least give him props for trying when he did return, and that he did come back since he apparently didn't know she was pregnant.      By the end though I was beginning to see them as a couple and how they both have the exterior and interior and have a hard time letting their true selves show. I was pulling for them and didn't think that Sawyer was as complete of a jerk by the end, and wanting them to be happy. I think it was fitting, and even though a bit of an open ending, it tied up everything in the story we just don't know what their happy ever after will exactly look like.  Bottom Line: Great storyline and main character, though I had some issues with the love interest. 
Anonymous 12 months ago
Laughed, cried and didnt want it to end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like love stories you'll love this book:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go to result two actually. No posts there.
Goldenfurproductions More than 1 year ago
MY THOUGHTS I will read basically anything YA, but I do tend to avoid books with teen pregnancy or sports. Obviously this book focuses on the former. For awhile, I didn't bother to pick up this book, but for some reason I decided to go outside my comfort zone and I discovered this beautiful book. This book is separated in before and after. Before, Reena has always had a crush on Sawyer, but it seems that he never really sees her, that he prefers her best friend instead. But one day he does and they develop a strong, but bumpy relationship, that leaves with Reena pregnant and Sawyer disappearing. Flash forward three years and Reena now has a beautiful daughter named Hannah. Reena is now used to her life and even has a boyfriend, when Sawyer comes back to town. Sawyer was completely unaware that Reena was pregnant and wants to fix what he broke, as well as get to know Hannah, but can Reena let him into her life again. I think what makes this book really beautiful is how realistic it is. This book has very raw realism, but it only makes it more beautiful, if that makes any sense. This book is told via both before and after which only enhances this. It's very interesting because we already know what happened, from the after, but we only know the ending. Through the before, we learn so much more about the relationship and it makes everything more clear. Reena is our main character and she's a great one at that. In the before chapters she has naive innocence, which does change as it goes on. In the after chapters, she's such a strong character. She's been through a lot in her young life, but she continues to take it. She loves her daughter and does a great job at raising her, as well as going to college classes and work. What's really frustrating is that nobody seems to see how strong she is, only her mistakes, and it takes awhile to get people to see this part of her. I'm a bit torn on Sawyer. I liked after Sawyer, but before Sawyer was a bit of a jerk. He was a troublemaker and did drugs. Even though, it was obvious that he did love Reena. He just had his own issues. In the after, Sawyer has changed after traveling the country. He is no longer a troublemaker and he really is sweet. He really does want to fix things. As for romance, I don't consider this a romance book. Yeah, it's about a couple falling in love, twice, but there's more to this book than that. This book is about how to love, but not only the romance variety. It is about family, bothe Reena's and Sawyer's, who distanced themselves after Hannah. It is also about Hannah. This book is also about being able to forgive and learning how to love again.  IN CONCLUSION Anyway, I'm getting a bit teary-eyed while writing this review. Overall, this was a very realistic, but beautiful read. I'm very glad that I reached out of my comfort zone and picked up this book! I already have Katie Cotugno's new book checked out from the library, so I hope to read that one soon!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Before everything went to hell, Reena Montero had loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she could remember. Watching Sawyer and wanting him from afar in their small Florida town came as natural as breathing. Sawyer always seemed so distant, so unattainable until one day he suddenly isn't. After circling each other for years, Reena and Sawyer are finally together for a torrid, messy moment before it all falls apart. Sawyer blows out of town without a word and Reena is left behind. Pregnant. Almost three years later and Reena has finally made sense of what a life without Sawyer should look like. Her dreams of college are long behind her but most days her daughter Hannah more than makes up for that. Then, quick as he left, Sawyer is back and supposedly a changed man. Reena has her doubts. As these two circle once again all of the ugly parts of their past are brought to light but in the midst of all the painful memories there are some beautiful ones too. It's taken Reena years to get over Sawyer LeGrande and make a new life for herself. With so many other changes is it possible to leave all of that past behind for a new future with Sawyer in it in How to Love by Katie Cotugno? How to Love is Cotugno's first novel. Chapters alternate between Reena's "before" as she and Sawyer first get together (told in past tense) and her "after" with Sawyer coming back into town and finding Reena and daughter Hannah. Although the book ostensibly contains two stories (one YA and one more Emerging Adult since Reena is a mother now) Cotugno expertly blends the two plots together to create one larger narrative that spans years. This book is extremely well-written. Cotugno is a prize-winning writer and her skill here shines through every page. Reena is a dimensional, realistic narrator. Even with her flaws and extremely poor decisions, Reena is mostly a heroine readers will want to like and want to succeed. Cotugno's descriptions of Reena's Florida landscape are evocative and vibrant. Outside of the lovely writing, How to Love is a book riddled with barely developed secondary characters, a poorly paced plot and a tragically unsympathetic love interest. Cotugno does a good job conveying the difficulties and stigma Reena faces as a teen mother and also shows the complexities of Reena's family life. However, many aspects of Reena's story are presented in a one-sided way. It is never quite explained how this responsible girl winds up pregnant except for her to say that she had thought she and Sawyer were "careful." The possibility of abortion is explained away with Reena's religious family but the idea of adoption is never once discussed even in passing. There is also a strange correlation throughout the story between Reena standing up for herself only to have to face dire consequences (in one instance her father, who has a bad heart, has a heart attack after Reena yells at him). By the end of the story, Reena gains a bit of agency and is able to move past her role as a teen mother to try and make a better life for herself and her daughter. The problem is that all of this agency comes from finding out that Sawyer came looking for Reena before he left town years ago. Reena's relationship with her best friend is also handled strangely. Allie shifts from an obstacle, coming between Sawyer and Reena's flirty budding relationship, to a plot device as she becomes part of an inciting incident that brings Reena and Sawyer together. A lot of how you feel about this book will depend on how you feel about Reena and Sawyer and their supposed epic love that looks a lot like standard lust. Basically Sawyer is a train wreck. He brings out the absolute worst in Reena at every turn before the pregnancy and leaves an impressive wreckage of mistakes in his wake. He is a user in every sense of the word and even Reena knows at the peak of her infatuation that it is only a matter of time before Sawyer implodes. How to Love is marketed as a story of one couple falling in love twice. The problem is that Sawyer getting even a first chance with Reena makes no sense much less him getting a second one. The fact that Reena is continuously drawn to Sawyer after seeing him at his worst again and again exhibits the worst kind of self-destructive behavior. Possible Pairings: The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti, Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols, Golden by Jessi Kirby, Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney, The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle, The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke, Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker, The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hooked! I read this book in one day & it was amazing. I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So this book sounds really good, but im worrd aout how appropriate it is? Can you answer my question?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's not really sexual I mean there is some kissing but really it doesn't say what they do word for word when they say they have sex.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago