Ten Reasons Why You Should Read…How to Love by Katie Cotugno

-1One exciting part of being a debut author is getting to know other debut authors and read their books before they’re released. The first Fourteenery book I’ve had the opportunity to read was How to Love by Katie Cotugno and guys–it was so good.

“But Annie,” you say, “What do you mean by so good? What makes it good?” I’m glad you asked! In no particular order, here are ten reasons why you should read How to Love:

1. Before and After
How to Love is structured with alternating before/after chapters, looking at how Reena and Sawyer first get together and if they can reunite after things get way complicated. Katie uses this structure so well. Inevitably, I’d end a ‘before’ chapter thinking “No, I have to find out what happens next!” and then read the following ‘after’ chapter and think the exact same thing by the end of that, too. Both the before and the after sections are so compelling and leave the reader with a growing sense of why this couple was/is/can’t be/has to be together.

2. Reena and Sawyer
Reena and Sawyer are one of my favorite YA couples. They’ve got major chemistry and make so much sense together, but they also make a lot of mistakes and go through a lot of tough stuff. So often I thought, “I get why these people want to be together.” It feels like a real, specific relationship. And they’re both compelling as individual characters.

3. Baby Love
Lots of YA novels that deal with teen pregnancy mostly deal with the pregnancy itself, not with the baby. I love seeing Reena’s relationship with her daughter, Hannah–it feels warm and real–and also seeing how Hannah has affected all the relationships in Reena and Sawyer’s families.

4. Kickass Writing
Katie Cotugno knows how to turn a phrase, y’all. I don’t want to spoil any of the good ones by posting them here, out of context, but there were so many great lines that sprung up naturally but really sparkled. An attention to lyrical prose is something I tend to love in books anyway, and Katie really nailed it.

5. Like a Prayer
Reena’s from a pretty Catholic family, which I thought was an interesting addition to the story. A lot of teens have religion as part of their lives, but I don’t tend to see it too much it fiction. It felt real here–it’s a part of Reena’s live, but the story itself doesn’t focus on that.

6. Life Happens
A few times throughout How to Love, life happens–trauma and frustration and those things you never expect to happen to you. I love that Katie took the plot in those directions. Again, it all felt real, just like when you get those scary phone calls in real life with news that something bad happened.

7. Laughter
Like the kickass prose, there are lots of funny lines throughout, too. In a novel that has a lot of serious life stuff going on, these comic moments were perfectly timed and well earned.

8. Flirting
Okay, so I’ve already expressed my love for Reena and Sawyer above. But I especially seeing them flirt and developing their relationship. It felt like seeing two charismatic people flirting, not just two stock characters. Major swooning, guys.

9. Family Ties
Both the Monteros and the LeGrandes felt like real families, and I liked that the families had a history, not just Reena and Sawyer. A lot of stories neglect the extended relationships, like family friends and friends’ siblings. The relationships in How to Love felt expansive in the best sense of the word; Reena’s world felt complete for me.

10. Katie Is Awesome
In case you need any more convincing, How to Love author Katie Cotugno is pretty much the coolest. She’s smart and funny and bakes a mean crumble. If anyone is going to be your new best author friend, it’s Katie.

The good news? Katie is a member of the Fourteenery, but her book is being released in October, 2013. That’s right–next month! So get preordering already.

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