Before:Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.After:Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?
In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.
I will read basically anything YA, but I do tend to avoid books with teen pregnancy or sports. Obviously this book focuses on the former. For awhile, I didn't bother to pick up this book, but for some reason I decided to go outside my comfort zone and I discovered this beautiful book.
This book is separated in before and after. Before, Reena has always had a crush on Sawyer, but it seems that he never really sees her, that he prefers her best friend instead. But one day he does and they develop a strong, but bumpy relationship, that leaves with Reena pregnant and Sawyer disappearing.
Flash forward three years and Reena now has a beautiful daughter named Hannah. Reena is now used to her life and even has a boyfriend, when Sawyer comes back to town. Sawyer was completely unaware that Reena was pregnant and wants to fix what he broke, as well as get to know Hannah, but can Reena let him into her life again.
I think what makes this book really beautiful is how realistic it is. This book has very raw realism, but it only makes it more beautiful, if that makes any sense. This book is told via both before and after which only enhances this. It's very interesting because we already know what happened, from the after, but we only know the ending. Through the before, we learn so much more about the relationship and it makes everything more clear.
Reena is our main character and she's a great one at that. In the before chapters she has naive innocence, which does change as it goes on. In the after chapters, she's such a strong character. She's been through a lot in her young life, but she continues to take it. She loves her daughter and does a great job at raising her, as well as going to college classes and work. What's really frustrating is that nobody seems to see how strong she is, only her mistakes, and it takes awhile to get people to see this part of her.
I'm a bit torn on Sawyer. I liked after Sawyer, but before Sawyer was a bit of a jerk. He was a troublemaker and did drugs. Even though, it was obvious that he did love Reena. He just had his own issues. In the after, Sawyer has changed after traveling the country. He is no longer a troublemaker and he really is sweet. He really does want to fix things.
As for romance, I don't consider this a romance book. Yeah, it's about a couple falling in love, twice, but there's more to this book than that. This book is about how to love, but not only the romance variety. It is about family, both Reena's and Sawyer's, who distanced themselves after Hannah. It is also about Hannah. This book is also about being able to forgive and learning how to love again.
Anyway, I'm getting a bit teary-eyed while writing this review. Overall, this was a very realistic, but beautiful read. I'm very glad that I reached out of my comfort zone and picked up this book! I already have Katie Cotugno's new book checked out from the library, so I hope to read that one soon!