Thursday, February 6, 2014

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer & Bray
Available Now
Reviewed by YA Sisterhood's Mom
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?

With all the “how to” help books on the market, why not one teaching us how to love? And what better way than through the lives of Sawyer and Reena, two teenagers with great plans and horrific choices.  She builds her story, not through dual POV’s, but through dual time settings: Before and After. That’s before and after Hannah, Reena’s child. For those of you who feel that pregnancy at sixteen is definitely not appropriate for YA, don’t worry. Katie Cotugno handles the subject tastefully and wonderfully. Most would feel that a YA novel would be the worst example to teach someone how to love. After all, teenagers have no concept of true love, right? What would they know about truly loving anyone but themselves? But don’t be fooled by the age of the characters. It is because of that choice that Cotugno successfully presents us with the knowledge of how to love on so many levels of relationships.

First of all, there is the level of friendship. Why is it that some of us have remained friends forever with the same person since Kindergarten and others have never talked to their “best” friend since they graduated high school? Cortugno’s answer to that is LIFE! We are on our path in life with our best friend beside us determined to take on the world together and nothing can separate our love for that person, and suddenly a choice has us splitting that path, each going into two different directions.

And, of course, there is the love between boyfriend and girlfriend. We are all skeptical that we can find our soul mate while we are teenagers—after all, you don’t even know what love is, right? What’s that old expression?  There are plenty of other fish in the sea! But what if that first one is the right one and you threw him back? Will you ever have a chance to catch him again? Or what if you are not old enough to consume that kind of fish without getting choked on a bone?

And for those YA readers of a more advanced age, there is the how to love concept in a parent/child relationship. Every parent has a plan for their child—a plan for success and happiness. And honestly, most teens want that for themselves also.  Sadly, those plans aren’t always the same, and even when they are……well, as I said before, LIFE happens! Parents truly believe that a child can never do anything that would destroy their love for their child….until the unthinkable happens.  Again, what is that old advice? Never judge until you have walked in that person’s shoes.

For those of you who believe this review has not really told you anything, but simply just asked too many rhetorical questions, I have now prepared you to read HOW TO LOVE. As Cortugno has shown us, we all have a million questions about love, but the solutions are found only when we live the answers.