Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: October 1, 2013
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 Stars
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?
There are many reasons why I love this book, and they don't all have to do with Sawyer (Sawyer was awful half the time, anyway - he made so many seemingly unforgivable mistakes). But, admittedly, a lot of them do have to do with Sawyer. Because, like Reena, no matter what he did, I couldn't help but love him.
That was Reena's biggest mistake. No matter how many times Sawyer hurt her, she couldn't help but run back to him. She couldn't help but forgive him, even when he didn't deserve it. Even when he lied to her face and she knew it, she still let him get away with it. She was blinded by her love for him, and therefore he was the one thing - the one person - she couldn't shake. Even when he came back after having disappeared for years, leaving her scared and alone and with a child she didn't plan for.
The conflict in this book was real, and between all characters. There was no perfection, no relaxation, just as these things sometimes do not exist in real life. Conflict between Reena and Sawyer was the largest that existed in the story, but there was also conflict between Reena and her family, Reena and Sawyer's family, Reena and Allie, etc. It helped create tension in the book that made me so emotional about the whole scenario.
I wasn't disappointed with the writing in the slightest. Sure, it wasn't as gorgeous as John Green or J.K. Rowling's writing, but it flowed easily. It also contained that unusual, gorgeous sentence that you just had to read over a few times to let it really sink in. For example, "It occurs to me, not for the first time, that things change whether you're around to notice them or not." Or, "I think of how it felt to lose him, slow and painful and confusing, and how it felt to wonder if I'd ever really had him at all.”
There was one theme that was threaded throughout the entire story, which I particularly loved, and that was the fact that every person has their own fatal flaw. It could be a person, it could be a character trait, it could be anything. Reena's was that no matter how many times Sawyer wronged her, she couldn't stay away. Sawyer's was that no matter how many times Reena pulled him back to reality, he always ran when things got tough. Neither of them were good people, but that's what made it work. Because by the end, they knew they were going to make more mistakes, but they both decided to try their best to rid themselves of those flaws and carry on.
When I picked up How to Love, I was expecting a fluffy, light read. That wasn't what I got, but I didn't mind in the slightest. If you're a fan of contemporary but not a fan of fluff, you'll love this book.