Recent Reads, 18/40: How to Love


I just keep chuggin’ along with the books.
I’m 3 books behind schedule, still, but this is the rate I typically read books at, about one per week.
Last year, I got so stressed because I made the goal so high (a book a week, not considering social life or work situations) and eventually gave up. I might not make the goal, exactly, but I’m not far behind and I’m allowing myself to enjoy the books. Either way, I’ll give myself a pat on the back. A couple of set-backs and I’m still doing okay.

How to Love by Katie Cotugno has been on my Amazon Wish List since it was released last fall, thanks to this good review from Entertainment Weekly. I pretty much trust my life with EW. My parents got me a couple of Amazon gift cards that I used for tons of Kindle books, but decided it was time to start buying some physical copies again.

How to Love is the story of Reena (Serena) Montero, a smart teenager who became pregnant at 16 and was abandoned by the father, and great love of her life, Sawyer LeGrande, who has suddenly come back into her life. Though he disappeared without knowing about the baby, the abandonment and the teen pregnancy caused tension in her life both towards him and with her family. The story is told in alternating chapters, BEFORE he left and AFTER he came back.
Reena has known Sawyer forever, and loved him about that long, but he isn’t all he’s cracked up to be when they finally come together. Their relationship is strained with secrets and fears. Can they overcome all of that?

I had high expectations for this book. I don’t want to say it let me down, but it didn’t become a favorite. Still, I consider a book good and read-worthy when it gives me something to think about and carry with me. I know this story won’t become a forgotten book in the library of my mind. While checking some spoiler-free reviews on Goodreads, I came across many people hating the character of Sawyer LeGrande. I, of course, ended up disliking him, too. I wondered if it was influenced by the reviews or if I would’ve felt that way regardless. He’s not particularly likeable, and Reena is a repressed and angry soul, so she’s hard to like sometimes,too. I think there’s something smart about that, though, especially in terms of a book geared towards Young Adults. It’s not the perfect love story. 

I think Cotugno handled Reena’s motherhood really well, too. It wasn’t the focus of the story. Reena’s a teen mom, and she’s dealing with it as best she can while living a normal life, but it’s not used to overdramatize the story in my opinion. It is the cause for family tension, but it’s not trying to send a message.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s more of a drama, unlike cutesy love stories you might find in YA romances,
but that doesn’t make it any harder to read or enjoy. It’s a refreshing change.

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