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How to Love Hardcover – October 1, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006221635X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062216359
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The Official How to Love Playlist By Katie Cotugno

From Joni Mitchell to Leann Rimes to Te Vaka, I listened to all of it while I wrote this book. Songs that fit the story, songs I thought Sawyer and Reena might like, songs that just plain gave me a lot of Big Feelings. Here are a few that are still in heavy rotation:

1. “Down in the Valley” by the Head and the Heart

Live music plays such an important role in How to Love, and the Head and the Heart puts on maybe the best live show I’ve ever seen. This track in particular is such a Sawyer song to me.

2. “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” by Bob Dylan, performed by Miley Cyrus

This is a Bob Dylan song, but I have to say that Miley’s version is my very fave. “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome” is a song about knowing you’re going to get left behind and not being able to do a single thing to stop it.

3. “So Far Around the Bend” by the National

I mean, if “I know you’re a serious lady” isn’t a perfect description of Reena, I don’t know what is.

4. “I Dream of Chicago” by Parlours

This one’s a traveling song, and a beautiful one.

5. “Reunion” by Indigo Girls

“Reunion” always makes me think of Reena’s relationship with her family—both the Monteros and the LeGrandes—especially the lines “I have no need for anger with intimate strangers/I have nothing to hide.”

6. “Poison and Wine” by the Civil Wars

This one’s about a good/bad love affair, and it aches.

7. “Bring It on Home to Me” by Sam Cooke, performed by Tony Lucca

This song is actually mentioned by name in the book. It’s a Sam Cooke song, but the Tony Lucca cover is the sexiest. It’s just science.

8. “All This and Heaven Too” by Florence and the Machine

In my head, “All This and Heaven Too” is Reena’s theme song. To me, at least, it’s about a smart girl trying to figure out, you know—how to love.

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–Sawyer LaGrande's unexplained disappearance rocked Serena Montero's world. It was love at first sight, and then he ran away and left her pregnant. Now he's back in town and ready to pick up where they left off. Serena, however, has a steady boyfriend and is now the mother of a two-year-old. She had to repair her broken heart and make peace with her very Catholic father, who does not approve of her out-of-wedlock child. She is older and wiser, but Sawyer was the love of her life. Will she make the same mistake twice? The language and content of this novel will appeal to teens, but the structure is an issue. Every other chapter is a flashback, making the plot seem choppy and disjointed. The portrayal of a Catholic Hispanic family in modern-day Florida is refreshing, but the shuffling between the present and the past may make it hard for readers to lose themselves in the characters. The story's mood is rather depressing; Serena deals with the death of her mother, the death of her best friend, Sawyer's abandonment, her child, her family's disapproval, and her father's heart attack. Yet, despite her struggles, she is still able to find her silver lining at the end of the story. How to Love may not appeal to a wide audience, but patrons who read and enjoyed Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster (S & S, 2012) will find Sawyer and Serena's frustrating relationship familiar.–Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Customer Reviews

My thoughts: Okay, I found this book to be very well written and easily understandable.
Jennifer Miller
As much as I loved the story, Reena, and how character driven it was… I didn’t like Sawyer, Reena’s love interest.
Jen @ A Book and a Latte
Sawyer's struggles and his character flaws made the story interesting and much more realistic, in my opinion.
K. Sowa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mckelle George on October 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I agree with another reviewer that although How to Love has some pretty decent writing, and the formatting of the "before and after" helps move the story along at a weaving, pleasant pace . . . The main character, Reena, becomes increasingly unlikable the longer the book goes on. Sawyer is a terrible boyfriend--a terrible person, in fact--in so many ways. Reena seems in lust with him, infatuated with this this inexplicable appeal that comes off very bad-boy Twilight-y, nothing more. Sawyer makes many mistakes, as does Reena, but there are no redeemable qualities to counteract this. Reena herself is exhausting and whiny. If the girl had actually learned something from all the heartache she went through, perhaps acknowledged and grew from some of her flaws, my review might be different, but as it was, both protagonists were so incessantly unlikable I couldn't put up with the book anymore. It was too unbelievable that she wouldn't walk away from him.

Too bad. I like Cotugno, and her writing. But even an angsty romance should be one you want to root for, but I was rooting for her to kick Sawyer to the curb the whole time.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Evans on October 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
How to Love could have easily been a 4--or maybe even 5--star book, but there was one massive problem: Sawyer. Sawyer literally stole those stars one by one. POOF! GONE! He just chipped away at them every time he pulled a jerk move that made me want to pummel his face in with rocks.

How to Love started out pretty strong for me. I had kind of a morbid interest in it, very similar to My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi. Teenage pregnancy? I was curious. I wanted all the details; I wanted to know exactly how/when/why it happened. But FYI, they never actually tell us how she got pregnant. NEVER. That's what I wanted to know. We don't know when it happened, or if they used a condom or not. All we know is that she woke up with morning sickness one day.

At first, I could really relate to Reena. She was the girl who loved quiet summers playing card games and hanging out with her best friend. But all around her, people were "moving on". She lost her best friend to the drinking and partying scene. I could totally relate. Reena just wanted things to be the way they always were; she didn't want things to change. She wasn't interested in partying or any of that.

"I wasn't shy, exactly. That's never what it was. I just didn't know how to do this, is all, the clang and chatter of high school."
"I had no friends in tenth grade. Okay, that's dramatic. I had friends. I didn't eat lunch alone on a toilet seat or anything. Mostly, I just didn't eat lunch. I went to the library."

THAT WAS ME!!! I could totally relate.

But everything went to the dogs as soon as Sawyer stepped on the scene...

I feel like we were supposed to love Sawyer despite his faults.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By muddyboy1 on November 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Is this book well written? - Yes! Did the book keep my interest? - Absolutely! Did I like the books message? It is horrible! The title of the book should be changed into How to be infatuated with a boy and make bad decisions that will ruin your life? I would never want a teenage daughter on mine reading this book. The story is about a 16 year old girl with straight A's ready to go to Northwestern University who falls under the spell of a drug using member of a rock band. She gets pregnant and time and again she gets opportunities to make good decisions. I keep rooting for her. This was what kept my interest. Spoiler alert - don't read the next sentence! I kept hoping that she would see this guy as a manipulative jerk but she never does. There should be a sequel in which he leaves her with three kids and she realizes that this isn't How to Love it is How to Ruin Your Life!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aureliano Buendia on January 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I got this book as an advance readers edition, eager to rekindle my love for young adult literature and those books with female protagonists in particular. I grew up on Sarah Dessen and Judy Blume--female authors who wrote honestly and painfully about the trials of first love, so after all the promotional fuss about How to Love I expected it to be of a similar quality.

As many reviewers have noted, the prose itself is beautiful. Cotugno is clearly a talented writer, as evidenced not only in her cerebral descriptions of characters and settings, but also her construction of plot. Even though I was frustrated with the protagonist and story before I was even halfway through, I stuck the book out to the end just to see what happened. If you're a reader who's looking for something unputdownable and nothing more, then this book has my commendation. I'm sure as a teenager I would have loved it. But as a twenty-something woman who has since found a lot of problematic things about the books she loved as a teenager, I have my gripes:

1) This is a book almost entirely about a girl's obsession with a boy. Sure, Cotugno tries to throw in some independent interests for Reena (travel, writing...) but when it comes down to it all that matters, all that ever takes up her attention, is Sawyer. I don't need to say why it's harmful and dishonest (not to mention all too common in YA books) to tell girls that their entire self-worth and happiness revolves around a dude. I think the books I read like that in high school played no small part in the years of infatuations and bad break-ups it took me to come to terms with the fact that the most important relationship of my life was with myself.

2) As others mentioned, Sawyer sucks.
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