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? In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice. (from Goodreads)
As I mentioned before in a little noticed post earlier this month, I picked up this book at the end of BEA on a whim. It was sitting on a random table outside the hall, so for some reason I grabbed it and cramming it into my already explodingly full suitcase. Later, back at home, I picked it up off my book pile on a whim. I was sucked in from the first sentence.
Katie's writing style is absolutely fantastic. It is artistic and raw all at the same time. She has some amazingly beautifully phrases that she uses to describe the simplest of tasks. This style of writing, to me, can be a hit or miss. I have read some books with beautiful writing, but because it is describing a bland, non-fantasy world, it just seems misplaced and...off. There is not a nice, flowing fit with the presentation and the world being built. But that is not the case here.
The chapter's didn't necessarily end in cliffhangers, yet I never wanted to put the book down and always felt compelled to read "just one more." The chapters were all relatively short, so that probably helped. The story switches between the "Before" and "After," and like the style of writing, I find this doesn't always work for me in storytelling. But again, Katie does it very well, and it fits for this story. Seeing Reena and Sawyer fall in love side-by-side showcases the many facets of the characters and their relationship.
To me, this is the best part about this book: it's real. Reena and Sawyer are messy, messed up, complicated characters. Their love is messy, complicated, and messed up -- both times. And both times, there is not necessarily a "happily ever after." There is, "this is what I chose, this is what life gave me, and this is what I'm doing with it." It's a very, very real book, and I very, very much appreciate that. It doesn't say to you, "Fall in love with a perfect man and you'll both be perfect and life will be perfect because of your love!" It is not a fairy tale. It is a real love story, and that to me makes it just as inspirational -- if not more so -- than a typical fairy tale.
How to Love comes out in October, and I cannot recommend it more highly. Pre-order it now, or be sure to run out and get it as soon as you can!