From Goodreads: 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?
This book had all the elements to turn into a new favorite. However there was something that really didn’t let it become that. That something’s name is Sawyer.
As so many others have said in their reviews of this book, if you don’t like Sawyer, you won’t like this book. Sadly, I didn’t like Sawyer.
This is really disappointing, since at first I was really connecting with this book. I really understood Reena. I really understood her, and loved her as a character at first. Suddenly Sawyer comes into the picture, and all the maturity she had acquired (because of her teenage pregnancy and being left alone to deal with it) disappears. POOF. Reena is 16 again, and making stupid decisions all over again.
I really tried to see what was so special about Sawyer. I tried to see how it was that Reena fell for him. But I couldn’t. All I saw was this manipulative and emotionally distant person. For Christ’s sake, Sawyer doesn’t even talk about his and Reena’s daughter when he sees her! He’s like: “Oh look, a baby. Well nice to see you, gotta go, bye.” He intentionally avoids the subject until he can’t anymore and then turns everything on Reena as if it were HER FAULT. And it is not.
There’s also a love triangle here, and I definitely did not root for Sawyer. I think this love triangle was about much more than just a simple “should I? shouldn’t I?” aspect, but more of an inner war of Reena’s past self with her future self. I felt like this triangle was Reena choosing to be her old, 17-year-old self (with Sawyer), or the new and mature girl she had to be to raise her daughter. She ultimately chose wrong. I am all for second chances when the person proves themselves worthy. However Sawyer did nothing of the sort. He just reappeared into Reena’s life and expected to be accepted as if he belonged there.
“The hideous thing is this: I want to forgive him. Even after everything, I do. A baby before my 17th birthday and a future as lonely as the surface of the moon and still the sight of him feels like a homecoming, like a song I used to know but somehow forgot.”
What I did like, however, was the familial dynamics. I liked seeing Reena’s interactions with her daughter, Hannah. I liked to see Reena actually acting as a good parent to Hannah. I also loved seeing Reena’s parents being supportive (even if they were conflicted) towards Reena. I loved that her parents weren’t afraid to tell the truth to her. I also loved the writing. The story was presented in then and now moments, and I loved that I could see the contrast between what was happening.
Overall, while this book has a great premise and wonderful writing, the fact that I could not connect with any of the main characters deterred my love for it. As I kept reading, Sawyer slowly kept sucking my enjoyment for what would have been an awesome book.