How to Love by Katie Cotugno
We first meet Serena as a teen mom. Her daughter, almost two years old, is the result of sex with Sawyer, whom Reena has loved all her life. Sawyer disappeared over two years ago, not knowing he had fathered a child. And at the beginning of the story, Sawyer reappears.
From there the story is told in alternate chapters of “Before,” and “After,” from Reena’s point of view. Having spent an emotional childhood, teen life, and even pregnancy tied with Sawyer, Reena is determined not to fall back into that life. And of course she can’t resist. Sawyer wants her back, with his baby. The problem seems to be that while they were busy having sex, they forgot to find out if they even liked the other person!
There are other complications: Reena and Sawyer’s families own a restaurant together, and both of them work there still. Both families are strict Catholics- creating obvious conflicts for a pregnant teen daughter. Reena’s father has mostly avoided this fact, but also avoided the fact that Reena has worked hard to go to college, and is doing a really good job with her daughter. Reena has had to give up her dreams. Is she grasping at a returned Sawyer as part of rekindling those dreams?
The plot is slow and the angst is palpable.
A side note: the family is obviously Hispanic family, but nowhere does the narrative announce this with a neon sign. Nicely done.
Recommended 14 up
Cussing, death, gay friends, grieving, kissing, pregnancy, sexual situations, star-trek sex.