Author: Katie Cotugno
Publication: October 1st, 2013
Read: March 23rd-April 1st, 2014
Summary (From Goodreads):
How to Love is a book my sister and I decide to purchase on a whim based on the beautful cover. After I we bought the novel I started to see nothing, but positive reviews. After reading the novel I have to say I agree. This book was full of emotions.
The Summary is the perfect description to start out this beautiful novel. The book is split into Before and After chapters. The Before sections describes Reena's life as 16 year old hopelessly in love with Sawyer LeGrande. She had loved him all her life "as natural as breathing, as endless as time." Reena just wants Sawyer to notice her and one day he does. The After chapters are Reena's life three years later. Abandoned by Sawyer she is forced to raise her daughter Hannah alone. To Reena's surprise Sawyer comes back. Sawyer and Reena's relationship takes on a new shape.
As I said earlier How to Love is full of emotions. Reena is desperate, foolish, and happy in the Before chapters. The After chapters explore every raw emotion Reena felt after Sawyer comes back to their sunny town. She feels angry at him for leaving, but Reena would be lying if she said she still didn't feel something for Sawyer.
Reena's character was really easy to fall in love with. In the Before chapters she was a dreamer with a bright future ahead of her. She couldn't wait to get out of her small town. Her relationship with Sawyer at 16 changed everything for her future life. If Reena could go back in the past I don't think she would have changed a thing about it. She loved Sawyer despite all his flaws. In the After chapters Reena is more set in reality and figuring out her new future. She is a waitress at the same place she worked at 16 with her boyfriend, Aaron by her side and her best friend Shelby. Shelby also happens to be Aaron's sister. I found Shelby to be a very headstrong, funny character. She knew how to give great advice and how to put Reena in her place when needed. I wasn't attached to Aaron as a character. I found him to be very washed out and boring. He was a good guy, but nothing as exciting as Sawyer. Reena has an added responsibility in the After chapters, her 2 year old daughter Hannah. I found that Hannah's development was described very well and while the baby was a big part of the story she was not overdone. I do not think Sawyer leaving would have been as big of deal if not for Hannah. Reena's character was independent. I always love that in a woman character. Reena did not go around sad about what could have or should have been she was just trying to take it all in stride.
Then there was Sawyer. I can't say I was in love with Sawyer at first because I wasn't. I couldn't stand some of his behavior especially at 16. He seemed to have no idea what he was doing and where his life was heading. His relationship with Reena's friend at 16, Allie is an instrumental part of the novel. I could tell from the brief descriptions of their relationship that although it was fun and carefree it wasn't healthy in the least. Some of the details found out later in the book further explain Allie and Sawyer's relationship. Although Sawyer had his rich boy, party attitude, he also had a really sweet, caring side. Sawyer grew up in a very strict family where you do everything right or else. It was no wonder he rebelled in his teenage years. Sawyer and Reena's relationship was a roller coaster. They took everything way too fast. Reena had loved Sawyer all her life and Sawyer didn't know how to maintain a relationship so it all seemed very natural to progress fast. That was before. Almost 3 years later Sawyer returns to the town and he has many secrets to uncover. The first one is that he has a 2 year old daughter named Hannah. Despite the time that has passed Sawyer treats life the same including Reena. Sawyer wants to continue his relationship with Reena despite running away from her in the first place. Reena might be 20 now, but she still has a weak spot in her heart for Sawyer LeGrande. Eventually I did fall in love with Sawyer's character every flaw included.
Soledad (Reena's Stepmother) and her father had a role to play in this story too. In the times where Reena needed support her Stepmother stepped in while her father at most points focused on what Reena had done wrong instead of what she had did right. Religious values played into this book a little bit. Reena's brother Cade and his wife Stephanie did not play a very big role in this book, but they had their moments where they were important characters. I think Cade's main purpose as a character was to point out the mistakes Reena made while Cade did not make the same mistakes.
I started out this novel liking the Before chapters the best because this is when I got to see Sawyer and Reena's relationship form, but as the book moved on I started to enjoy the After chapters more for the same reason. The writing in this novel was so beautiful. It was one of those books that I put off finishing because I didn't want to let go of these characters. I got extremely attached to Sawyer and Reena. I eventually had to know how their love story ended and finished the novel. The ending was so beautiful although it maybe could have been further developed. As any review of this book states. I highly recommend this novel.