Published by Balzer + Bray on 01 October 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Young Adult
Place(s) traveled to: Broward, Florida
First Line(s): I’ve been looking for Sawyer for half a lifetime when I find him standing in front of the Slurpee machine at the 7-Eleven on Federal Highway, gazing through the window at the frozen, neon-bright churning like he’s expecting the mysteries of the universe to be revealed to him from inside.
When I first read the synopsis of How to Love by Katie Cotugno I was intrigued. I love stories that cover both the past and the present and enjoy getting that complete picture of a story. In the case of How to Love, each chapter alternates between the before and the after. Before, Reena was a typical teenager in love with a boy who just happened to be dating her best friend. After, Reena was a teen mom and the baby’s daddy had skipped town when she got pregnant and he’s only just returned. The boy in question is the same, Sawyer and he had to the potential to be this complicated character but in the end he never quite lived up to what he could have been. The same can also be said for How to Love as a whole.
While I did enjoy How to Love I just felt that it lacked depth. There were many questions that were never fully addressed and many others that were just glossed over. Reena in the time After was a bit of a mary sue allowing everyone around her to walk over her and treat her like she was less than she was. Reena in the Before had so much potential and had such big plans that when things feel through do to the unexpected pregnancy those around her treated her horrible. Especially the ones that should have loved and supported her the most. If it wasn’t for Aaron and Shelby I fear she may have spun out of control.
Another area where this book lost me was in the YA cliche of the BFF who really isn’t. In How to Love Reena ends up with two of these, first there is Allie, who knows how much Reena likes Sawyer but dates him anyway. Then gets all high and mighty and so very bitchtastic when Reena eventually calls her out on it and then BAM no more BFF. In the After, Reena has become good friends with Shelby and on the surface Shelby is a true friend. But that is when Reena is dating her twin brother, Aaron. When Sawyer returns and starts to get between Aaron and Reena (they do share a baby and a complicated history) Shelby goes a bit bitchtastic and Reena suffers for it.
While I don’t agree with some of Reena’s actions I do understand them and I am glad that it is with Sawyer’s return that she finally starts to grow a spine. Though I do wish she’d done with without breaking hearts along the way as while I understood the draw of Sawyer in the Before I didn’t get it in the After. I think that Reena was just too accepting of things there and really wish there were more answers on why he left and more importantly why he returned.
I did like the writing style of Katie Cotugno and do plan on reading more books of hers in the future. Though I don’t think that I will be rushing to read her next book.