Publication: October 1st 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Format: Paperback, 389 pages
Source: Own, bought from Fullybooked
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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?
When I first saw this title, I was immediately intrigued. How to Love – it kind of sounds like a manual or something you read off of a magazine. I thought to myself, if those three words were enough to catch my interest, what more the story? I read the plot and I already deemed it as heartbreaking – a genre I’m a bit fond of. Were there hearts broken? Not really, instead hearts were mended and restored.
In the beginning of the novel, I already had a problem. I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. It was a bit bland for my taste. But the format of the story made up for it. How to Love is told in alternating time periods – Before and After. I applaud Miss Katie for pulling it off perfectly. Each event managed to compliment the other, chapter by chapter. And it flowed smoothly.
Reena Montero is hard to understand for the majority of the novel. She has an annoying tendency to make excuses and fabricate lies to get out of a sticky situation. It’s tiresome and I actually felt bad for whoever character she lied to. She shuts people off, even the boy she loves, Sawyer LeGrande. I get that she’s introverted, but isn’t that boring? If I were Reena, I wouldn’t want to live a life doing absolutely nothing. I would want to make friends with other people my age.
But one quality that I do admire about her is her sense of responsibility. She made the courageous decision to raise a child at the ripe age of sixteen. Not many teenagers in her case can do the same.
I felt the same way for Sawyer LeGrande. His actions send the wrong signals, and there are times when I truly question his intentions towards Reena. I can sense the sincerity in his actions, but how did he came to notice Reena? How true are his feelings for her? Thankfully, we get an answer towards the latter part of the novel. You just have to read it to find out. 😉
There were a lot of holes in the middle of the story. I felt like there was a disconnection between Saywer and Reena’s relationship at that time. I felt like I was missing something. Eventually, all the loose ends were tied at the end. I don’t know if I should be frustrated that everything seems to resolve itself at the happily ever after part. But I do love how their relationship escalated from cutesy attraction to serious business to heartbreaking downfall. Nothing felt rushed; every step was taken at a moderate pace.
All in all, How to Love is an accomplishment. This is the first young-adult novel I’ve read that touches on a heavier and more serious topic which is teenage pregnancy. I thought the author depicted it both beautifully and realistically. I think every YA-lover, or even a normal reader, should check out this stunning debut.