I adore Katie Cotugno as a person and author, but I am quickly learning that her stories probably aren’t for me. They all promise swoony romance and feel good vibes but that isn’t ever what I get out of them. Take this book, How to Love. The blurb makes promises of second chance romances and rekindling a first love. Awesomesauce, right? Yeah, that isn’t what is actually in this story.
Short recap: Reena is a teen mom who comes face to face with her daughter’s father, Sawyer, for the first time in three years. Things between Reena and Sawyer ended very badly but they both want answers and to see if maybe, just maybe, they can start over.
Again, sounds pretty good, right? WRONG. I had issues from the first page. First, what did Reena see in Sawyer? He was such an a-hole that I wanted to reach through the pages and punch his lights out. He acted like a massive dick every time the two started talking about their past and what happened to them. I could not find one redeeming quality about Sawyer that would make me like him. Everytime Reena would try to have a serious talk with him – especially about the fact that she had his baby – he would laugh it off, make some insensitive comment, and then walk away to go do some drugs or get drunk. He would even take her to parties just so his friends could make fun of her while he scurried away to another room to pop pills. Real winner right there. Cut your losses, Reena. But does she? OH NO. She feels she needs to fight to get his attention, fight to get him back in her life. Listen here, sweetheart, no man is worth that much hurt. If he doesn’t want to listen or talk to you, walk away and find a way to heal yourself. He left for a reason and if he doesn’t want to explain himself, so be it. Don’t fight for something that isn’t there. But they still push on! They both keep pushing the other’s buttons, as if they were addicted to the hurt the other inflected. All around it was a horribly toxic relationship that never should have happened but I couldn’t wrap my mind around why Reena wanted to get back with that jerk-off.
All of that being said about Sawyer, Reena was not without her faults. She was an enabler. She had such low self esteem and self worth that she felt she didn’t deserve better. As much as that breaks my heart, she needed to grow a thicker skin at some point. She was sweet but gullible, and people took advantage of that. I did give her mad props for owning up to being a mother and doing the best she could with her daughter. At the same time I take away those mad props because she kept going back and forth between Sawyer and her current boyfriend. Sawyer was like some really, really bad drug that she just couldn’t get enough of and it started to piss me off. It made me quickly stop caring what happened to Reena because she was making the stupidest decisions possible and hurting everyone around her for no reason. It was as if she forgot how strong she could be when she was away from Sawyer. I didn’t like the person she became around him and therefore I stopped caring altogether.
The overall story felt very lacking. It is well written, I won’t dispute that but the actual story was not good or positive. There were a lot of flashbacks and flash forwards that happened too quickly and without warning. It made the pacing of the story choppy and hard to follow. There was no character growth or development. Instead, the character de-evolve and become stupider and dumber as the story continues. I skimmed the second half of the book because I wanted to know how it ended, and even that disappointed me. All around, this was a big steaming pile of disappointment. I am not comfortable recommending this to anyone because I don’t want them to walk away pissed off or disappointed like I was.