How to Love by Katie Cotugno

How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Balzer + Bray | Hardcover, 389 pages
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
New Adult
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Do not be fooled. This is not a beautiful love story. It’s harsh, unapologetic and just…not fun. It’s also not a step-by-step instructions on how to handle all the emotional warfare a person would face when they fall in love (as the title subtly implies). It will not teach you how to mend a broken heart. It doesn’t even teach you how to forgive; it tells you to let bygones be bygones without a single thought to how that person almost broke you.

One thing you would realize, however, is that sometimes, regardless of how shitty that person treated you, you know deep inside that you’ve done each other a favour. 

Thus, is the ugly kind of love between Serena and Sawyer.

I am tempted to rant; but I shall refrain. I have waited an eternity for this book. I read it as soon as I got it in my grabby little hands. And why wouldn’t I want to read it? It sounded so good despite my inkling that reading it will put me through an emotional grinder.  See, I knew it was going to be one of those reads. Pretty book, pretty packaging…but the inside? But I’ve always been a fan of romances where one somehow walks away for whatever reason. I imagine how he or she would grovel to get the love of their lives back. I was salivating for that moment when they finally reunite and when Sawyer finally gets his comeuppance; when Serena tells him all the ways that he’d fu*ked up and what he needed to do to get back in her graces. Well, that was a disappointment and a half.
Sawyer was a problematic kid to begin with; but becomes impossibly so when it was compounded by a certain event that made him even more unbearable to take.  He was a user who clung on to Serena because she’s the only thing that was normal in his life at the time. He was immature, selfish and a total dick. I’m sorry, there’s just no way around it. I could’ve liked him if he grew up a bit but even after he comes back there was no growth and development with his character at all. He was the same selfish person who thinks everything should be handed to him easy. 
The same could be said for Serena. The numerous “shut up!” when she didn’t want to listen to Sawyer just annoyed me to heavens. What are you, fourteen? She got pregnant at 16; three years later, time and experience didn’t give this girl a level of maturity you would expect from someone who’s been through so much. The author failed to distinguish the before and after – there was no sense that they’ve changed. But perhaps I’m expecting too much. Can I honestly say that a person’s level of maturity should improve in three years? Maybe not. All things considered though, these two were the same kids as they were before and after they had their child.

There were a lot of unfinished businesses here; Sawyer’s parents, for example. I wanted them to apologize to Serena. I wanted them to admit that they were sanctimonious hypocrites who looked down at Serena for getting pregnant at 16. They didn’t even acknowledge the fact that it takes two people to make a baby and that their son has a hand (er, so to speak) in it. They ignored and pretended Serena and baby Hannah didn’t exist until after Sawyer showed up. Please. 

Whatever happened to Sawyer when he left wasn’t addressed either. Nor the reason why he left. The plot wasn’t tidy and the ending? Bah.

Overall, this book wasn’t bad. I supposed it’s okay. But for someone who’ve waited for a long time, and had expected so much, it was such a disappointment. Sucks to be me, I guess. 

  • I actually just started reading this! I've heard both bad and good things about it. Too bad the main characters aren't the best 🙁 Thanks for the great, honest review 🙂

  • It was a surprise for me too, Gaby. I expected light and found it to be too real for my taste.

  • I thought this was a cute romance, not one that sounded bad…toxic. Maybe it will help some people, but I don't think it's for me :/

  • Yeah, I think that was all on me. I expected too much and the disappointment was just crushing. That's the way it goes sometimes. 😉

    Thanks, Nicole!

  • I hope you'll have a better time with it.


  • For sure. They just have that kind of relationship – not abusive, per se or even toxic. I wish that I liked the characters better though.

    Thanks, Jen!

  • Oh me as well. I'm looking forward to this author proving me wrong with her next work, for sure.

  • Thanks, Candace. I was a moth and this book, the flame. Lol.

  • Aww I am sorry this was a disappointment! I really like this one but I didn't have any expectations going into it. I can totally understand the unfinished business though. I guess it didn't bug me as much because I wasn't looking for those answers, ya know? :/

    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

  • I think I've somehow missed exactly what this book was about . . . (The cover, some ads, etc made it seem lighter.)

    Thanks for the review, I definitely have a better idea of what to expect now. I don't think I'll read it just now but might give it a try at some future point.

  • I completely understand your frustration with the characters.Sawyer was pretty hard to understand and/or like and I got very frustrated with Reena's choices.
    This book made me think a lot about how much reality I want in a story. I did think the relationship was realistic — probably all of us have had friends who just keep going back to the same jerky guy over and over — but do I want a book that is realistic or one that gives me hope that people can change? Not sure I know the answer. However, I agree that readers who want a feel good love story may not find it here…

  • I totally agree with your thoughts on this. I was really disappointed with it as well :/ and yeah I wanted to rant on my review too but also decided not to.
    I did like the writing though, and if the author comes out with another novel I hope it'll have likable characters.
    Great review 🙂

  • I've been hearing the same things from people (er, from reviews) so I know that this would be a book that would likely really frustrate me. I wasn't really drawn to it before anyway though, so I guess nothing has really changed. I'm sorry that it was rather disappointing for you though.

  • Yeah, this is probably a non-Carina book. Lol. I know you can't handle too much angst and this one tested my patience, for sure!

  • Thanks, Melliane!

  • Oh trust me, I have debated on whether or not I should continue reading. But I just had to finish it because I waited soo long to read it. Oh well.

  • I wasn't much a forgiving reader, I guess. 😉

  • No problem. Although I'm probably a minority on this one. Give it a chance anyway.

  • That's exactly it, Jeann. Toxic. And thanks!

  • Everyone seems to be reading this book these days. I could NEVER EVER read this book. So much drama and heartbreak. Sigh. Anyway. I'm glad you somewhat managed to enjoy it, though there were many awful parts. Awesome review, at least 😀

  • hmm maybe not for me, it's the second mixed review I see about this book so I think I'll pass.

  • Joy, I applaud your patience with this book, really. Not to mention the ability to write an honest and respectful review, when I all I wanted to do was rip this book to pieces. I didn't even get through half of it, had to DNF it, couldn't take it. I thought it was nonsensical and childish in many ways. And such a waste of a great and potentially awesome premise. And it just lacked the emotional depth, as well as some sort of educational value. Overall, this story was blah and I agree with everything you said in your review:)

  • I had issues with Sawyer too, but came around to him more than you I think

  • Sorry to hear about your disappointing read. That doesn't sound like any fun at all. I think I'll steer clear of it. Thanks for the warning.

  • Noooo this book sounds so frustrating! Kind of a toxic relationship really. Sad that you were disappointed, hope your next read is better!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence