REVIEW: How to Love by Katie Catugno

Friday, January 09, 2015

My rating:

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.


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.


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?


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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The end made me so damn happy for Reena and Sawyer.

This book was not perfect. It has some shortcomings, but personally I thought this book was great. I think it dealt with the topic of teenage pregnancy realistically. I should know because I have been in that situation. I have been Reena at some point in my life, and I could definitely say that most of the situations Reena went through in this book was accurate.

I've read a couple of negative reviews about this book and they were complaining about Sawyer being a douchebag. And I agree, he is a douchebag. But that's the entire point of the Before and After POVs from Reena. You get to see the "what happened" and the "why he left" and also the "how different is he now".

But I'm not going to elaborate on that now. Let's start with the gist first.


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.


Reena and Sawyer practically grew up together. Their families are basically one family, because of a joint business their parents have. Reena always liked Sawyer, but she has always been too scared to act on those feelings. So she just let it go.

Reena had a bright future ahead of her. She was smart and very studious. She was taking advanced classes and is actually about to graduate earlier than she should be. But what she wasn't expecting was being with Sawyer. And being with Sawyer was not what she expected. It was good, for the most part, but there were other things that she did not know about Sawyer that she had to accept, because she likes him.

So... the thing happened. You guys know what I mean. Right?

Yeah so it happened and well she got pregnant at 16.

And Sawyer.

He left. Without saying a word.



Serena or Reena is a great character. She made some mistakes, but that's all part of life isn't it? And that's what made this book great. The characters were flawed and imperfect. You don't go into a teenage pregnancy book and think that the main character is a Mary Sue. No that does not happen. These kids obviously did something stupid and immature, hence why this is a teenage pregnancy book and not just your typical romance book.

I read a few reviews saying that she was well immature and all that stuff. She's not. She's actually more mature and independent than I was when I got pregnant. I got pregnant when I was eighteen and a mom at 19. I was an adult. But to be honest, she handled things pretty well on her own than I did. I was a mess. I was crap. I was useless. And that's the reality of being a teenage mom. There were times that she made crappy decisions like with Aaron, but give her a break. People makes mistakes, not just people who got pregnant early whose baby daddy comes back and now they don't know what to do. That also happens to people who doesn't have kids. Let's not be too judgemental.

Although, there are a lot of things that happened to Reena that didn't happen to me, I still connected to her in a deeper level than I was ready for. I cried, especially on the confrontation scene with her Dad. That was just... me. It was like that was me. And it did happen to me too so... I guess that's why that made me cry.


Now this dude is a dick. I agree. He had some stupid decisions. He's done stuff he shouldn't have. He treated Reena like crap on some occasions. But he is not a bad person. On the before POVs that is. If you've read the after POVs closely, you'll get why he left. I actually like the transitions of the Before and After POVs because it explains what is happening in the present. And it totally made sense for him to leave.

Do you guys want to know what type of guy is real douchebag? THE ONE WHO LEAVES, DOESN'T SAY GOODBYE AND DOESN'T RETURN OR THE ONE WHO KNOWS YOU GOT PREGNANT BUT LEAVES ANYWAYS WITHOUT EVEN A CARE. And Sawyer wasn't either of those. He left, that's true, but he had a very valid reason. I should know.

I like Sawyer. I really do. He's just one of those kids who is so pressured into doing everything right, that he is intentionally doing things wrong. I could relate to that too. Although, I don't do drugs and all that crappy crap, but the pressure of doing what your expected to do is pretty heavy especially when you as a person would like to do something else. And that is what Sawyer's burden was.

Also, people change. And I liked seeing that with Sawyer's character. You'll see the contrast of who he was then and who he was currently. I thought his character was pretty well played.

The Parents

I felt that Katie also made it a point to include the conflic these two had with their parents and I really liked that. I would have to say that both of their parents were crap, but happy that Reena's father at least was able to redeem themselves.


It was very well played for me. I felt that it was not perfect but it was good. Reena and Sawyer obviously really liked each other. There were just some situations that stood in the way which prevented them from being together earlier and letting Allie (Reena's no good friend) having Sawyer first.

But I don't want to talk about that. I want to emphasize on the fact that they were responsible people that has feelings. If Sawyer knew, I think he wouldn't have left. I honestly don't understand how people could think that just because someone hurts you, you can shut down all your feelings for that person. You can't!!! Especially not when you share something as important as a kid. You can hate him/her at some point, but at the end of the day, you shared something special with that person and you can't hate them forever. And Reena did not forget that. She made it so clear to Sawyer that she was not okay with him being back a couple of times.

"You can't just come here after all this time and try to joke around with me and act like nother happened. That's not - Stuff happene, Sawyer. You can't just be back.

And it was hard for Reena. You'll see her struggle about her conflicted feelings. Aaron was easy and Sawyer was complicated. She could just stay with Aaron, but will that make her completely happy? Will it be okay for her to stay on the safe side and not risk the chance of her having a complete family and be happy? Will you?

And Sawyer, I think I'm going to spoil you guys a bit, didn't know Reena was pregnant okay? He didn't fucking know. My douchebag of an ex-bf did know. And you know what? He left anyways. That's my basis of douchebaggery. So forgive me if I don't think Sawyer is a big douchebag. He is far from it. He's just a person who made lots of crazy mistakes that he is currently trying to ammend.

So do I think Sawyer and Reena should be together? Yes. Why? Well because they didn't split up because they wanted to anyways. They still had feelings for each other so there's really no reason why they couldn't work that out to have a complete family with their baby Hannah.


I loved this book so much and happy that I read it first. It is not for everyone I get it, but luckily it was for me. I get all those things that happened to Reena and I think that's why I loved it more than I should have.

This book was about love, mistakes, and making up for those mistakes. It's about forgiveness. Trust. Family. There were a lot of good points on this book that really touched me. The characters all had their own struggles and demons to face.

How to love is not only about loving a significant other. It's about loving your parents, your daughter, your friend. And I totally loved that. So much love. It reminded me of If I Stay by Gale Forman in some ways because of the different types of love that was shown in this book. I thought the plot twists were just placed at the right times.

This book made me real emotional. Emotional in a way that was good. I liked reading about people owning up to their mistakes and correcting their paths. Reena may have not been in the college of her choice, but at least she is still making something out of her life. And that goes with Sawyer too. That's why he came back.

Fresh start. And I think everyone deserves that.


  1. This is such a beautifully-written review, Aria! I love how you expressed your thoughts about the book. I hope I'll get the chance to read How to Love soon enough. <3

    Kyla @ Carmel & Kyla
    I recently posted Troglodytes Approve 1: The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise (Interview + Giveaway) -->

  2. Sounds like an interesting read and I think I might actually have this book, so I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  3. This doesn't look like my kind of book but I'm glad you enjoyed it all the same :) great and insightful review as always

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  4. I'm so glad you liked this book! It's one of my favorites, and I just love it! Even about a year after reading it, it's still with me. I can't wait to read more from Cotugno.

    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

  5. I loved your review, I would love to read this book and saw my library has it so I'm definitely reading. I got pregnant at 19 mom at 20 but I did it by myself for a while so I know I'll probably relate to this story.


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