Title: How to Love
Author: Katie Cotugno
Synopsis: 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.
I received this book as a part of Goodreads First Reads program.
How to Love is heavy. It’s a book that has no problem playing with the reader’s emotions and tagging at one’s heartstrings. Reena and Sawyer’s relationship can be best described as emotionally draining, stressful, and messy, and yet it’s so easy to root for them from start to finish, especially when the novel starts to reveal its true intentions.
Cotugno’s writing is beautiful. It has a very unique ebb and flow in terms of its Before and After perspectives, yet everything feels perfectly woven together. Reena is not afraid to speak her mind, and considering she’s a single mom putting everything in her life on hold, she’s easy to sympathize with. She doesn’t ask for sympathy, she doesn’t want people’s charity, she merely wants to know why she and her daughter were abandoned. Sawyer on the other hand, isn’t exactly a good person. In fact, he can be downright dickish at times, lacking sensitivity when it matters the most. Yet, as his reasons unfold, they are surprisingly crystal clear — he’s equally afraid to get hurt again, just like Reena.
This book had moments of genuine laughter, hard tears, and it emotionally plays with your mind in a lot of ways. Cotugno makes it clear that our hero and heroine will be together, but she makes the obstacles so high, so stacked above the two of them, that there are instances where that frustration and exhaustion comes into play — the desire to call it quits. Yet, much like Reena, the reader, feeling the same emotions, continues along because you want to believe the world and life will get better.
I had a tough time putting this book down. When I did, I found myself thinking about the kind of emotionally effect it would leave on me. I found it so easy to root for Sawyer and Reena, no matter how imperfect and flawed they are, and I appreciate that Cotugno never sugarcoats the situations and emotions within the narrative. How to Love may be heavy, but it’s a surprisingly rewarding ride in the end.