Katie Cotugno is brilliant // A How to Love Review

by Zoë B on October 30, 2013

Have you ever picked up a book and just fallen in love with it? The words on the page just seem to fit. The little film inside your head appears instantly. There are no problems finding the words around you, just letting your eyes wander and so easily you’re right there in the midst of that particular books soul. That’s it, utterly hooked?

How to Love was definitely one of them for me.

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This is a love story. But it’s not what you think. This is not a first kiss, or a first date. This is not love at first sight. This is a boy and a girl falling in messy, unpredictable, thrilling love. This is the complicated route to happiness that follows. 

This is real. This is life. This is how to love.

BEFORE: Reena has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember. But he’s never noticed her, until one day… he does. They fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town, leaving a devastated – and pregnant – Reena behind.

AFTER: Three years later and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter Hannah. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again.

After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer again?

If I’m honest I wasn’t planning on reading it. All book bloggers have a very large ‘To Be Read’ pile that seems never ending and everlasting. I have far too many books to read before I should of even considered glancing at the blurb of How To Love, but one rainy morning when this little beauty slid through my letter box I found myself stopping everything to really discover what this book was about.

I’ve read a couple of reviews from others blogs and there were mixed feelings about whether they enjoyed it, were too annoyed about the events in the book or just didn’t like it because they thought it was too sappy (which worried me). I did note that quite a few of the reviews didn’t state how it made them feel throughout, which is a big thing for me. Not so keen on books that make you feel quite deflated after reading it, almost as if you wasted your time reading it and I wasn’t so up for another sappy love story that had no depth. However most reviews I read of How To Love, loved it.

Ahh queue the usual hype monster to set in.

But for goodness sake whatever you do, do not give in to this monster for you need to read this book.

Yes, it is a love story. But there is more grit and life like events that would happen exactly the way they are portrayed which makes this unlike all those other love stories; it’s believable, it’s real, it’s more than just two people in love.

This book is full of everything a real life relationship is like. It’s unpredictable, messy, confusing and definitely annoying to watch/read from ‘afar’. (Exactly like your typical relationship) If anything I want more youths (lol) to read this to understand relationships and what they’re really like.

It’s structured alternating chapters of before and after with Reena as the narrator. So before Sawyer legged it (when Reena becomes pregnant) and after, when Sawyer returns (and baby Hannah is freaking cute). Which is funny as the whole book revolves around Sawyer…literally – he’d be so pleased.

I love how I hate Sawyer and I hate how I love Sawyer. You’re utterly part of Reena reading this and feel exactly the way she’s feeling. You know she should be with Aaron, you know that she wants to be and yet when Sawyer turns up out the blue, you know that you want to be adventurous with him. But you also know there’s something else going on there, something not quite right and that’s just adding to the aggravation of…well, everything. It’s all so darn confusing!

One thing I know for certain is that I love Shelby, Reena’s best mate who was introduced ‘before’ but is more of a main character in the ‘after’. She is awesome. I totally had another, “I want Shelby as my best friend” moment, which happens more often than not with book characters. But gosh, she is cool! One thing I loved about the way Cotugno portrayed Shelby, is how subtly and nonchalantly explained that she likes women. If I’m honest, I read the casual line of ‘Shelby’s girlfriend’ and fist pumped.

Ya know, me. Fist pumping um…

I mean, how brilliant is that? Not only is the main character’s best friend lesbian, but how not important that is to their friendship and not a major paragraph of ‘we need to sit the reader down and explain this carefully so not to offend anyone’ or some utter rubbish. It was explained in black and white a couple of chapters near the end, but you would’ve gotten the jist by then so it wasn’t a ‘coming out’ statement, just a passing comment. Anyhoo, getting off topic, just an added thing that made me love Shelby and also Katie Cotugno‘s writing.

Which brings me to Katie Cotugno‘s writing (wow what an obvious link there). It is incredibly slick. Never once did I have to re-read a sentence that didn’t ‘read’ well. It all just mushed together (technical term) brilliantly. This was something the other bloggers mentioned and they are incredibly right about this. It didn’t take ages to build up to something important and never unnecessary words or information thrown in. Only the necessary details were mentioned, not going off on a tangent about something non important. It all just felt right and flowed beautifully. Honestly, this is another reason why I loved it, because How to Love was so easy to read. I tried not to rush through and find the time to fully enjoy the book as it was so incredibly easy to dive into Reena and Sawyer’s world.

It was aggravating, some of the events that happened but honestly, I was worried that it would become a typical love story; happily ever after and all that, but although the ending was happy (spoiler alert) I felt the characters had grown, had learned something important and gained some life experience in which the characters fully earned their happy ever after. Plus the ending didn’t disappoint, convinced it couldn’t have gone any other way.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Cotugno‘s ‘How To Love‘. So much I can’t rate it, (it’d be a 5/5 but I’m trying to be harsher with reviews, so I didn’t say that…shh) it’s just one of those story lives you have to experience. Would be incredibly intrigued to have a Sawyer perspective book, want to know what he got up to when he got off and traveled a bit more *hint hint New book Katie hint hint* Fingers crossed eh?

But hey, don’t let my hype monster dampen or excite you over this book, grab it yourself and see how you feel.

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P.S I received How To Love as a prize from a competition I won on twitter hosted by Quercus Books, so massive thank you to the lovely people at Quercus!

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  • Ahh I really want to read this now, it sounds so good! Really good review xx

  • – Orli
    Woop! Thank you, glad you enjoyed my review. In case you know, the jist of the review didn’t come through, I definitely recommend it, if your all for a confusing romance novel – Should of really said that you have to be in the mood for it 😛 But yay!

  • What a great review, I’d heard OF the book recently but not really what it is about … will look out for it 🙂

  • – Clover
    Aww thank you! I think you’d enjoy it, not the usual sappy romance novel 🙂

  • Hm… I will actually have to put this book on my reading list. I liked your review of it. Although, lately, I haven’t been to much into the romance novels… :(.

    I love what you’ve done with your blog. I actually featured you as one of the 10 bloggers to watch out for 2014.

    I’m glad to have found out about your blog.

  • – Elena
    I utterly agree. Was in a bit of a i-hate-romance-and-all-it’s-usual-ickyness rut for a while but I won this and forced myself to delve into this book. Thankfully I liked it, yes it’s sappyish but with romance you have to give it some leeway, however this was ‘deeper’ and grungier than I thought it would be.

    Oh wow! That’s really lovely, thank you so much!
    Cheers Elena, thanks for commenting, you’ve just made my day!
    Z x

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