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? (Goodreads)
I had a feeling that I would love this book and I must say, it didn't let me down. The book transitions between what they call "Before" and "After". The "before" is about Reena's life as a Junior in high school, before she began a relationship with long time crush Sawyer, and before the birth of her daughter Hannah. The "after" is Reena's life three years later living with her family, raising her daughter, and adapting to Sawyer's abrupt reappearance in her life.
I love how we get to read about Reena and Sawyer as they transition from family friends into something more romantic. It was such a unique way to experience it and learn their back story, which is heartbreaking. Reena and Sawyer's family have been friends since before the children were born, their fathers even have a business together. After a horrific accident, Reena and Sawyer not only find themselves growing closer to each other, but Sawyer starts spiraling down a pretty dangerous path. There was so much tension between Reena and Sawyer after "the incident" that I honestly wasn't sure where it was going.
To be honest Reena and Sawyer had a pretty dysfunctional relationship (Slight spoilers ahead) Sawyer began to rebel pretty early on in the "before" chapters of the book, and in addition to that he develops a pretty bad drug habit. He puts Reena though so much crap that... it's almost hard to read. He lies, he shows up at her house in the middle of the night stoned, the first night they have sex, he doesn't call, she has to accidentally run into him, and there's too much more to list. That being said, I don't hate Sawyer and I don't necessarily disagree with Reena's decisions regarding how Sawyer will be a part of her life. (More spoilers) Was Sawyer a screw up? Yes. Did he make a lot of big mistakes? Yes. But you know what, he also left the only home he'd ever known, to fix himself. Sawyer knew he was messing up, and he knew that in order to get his life back on track, he had to leave. He could have landed in some urban city and continued to let his life spiral out of control, but enrolled in rehab, spent some time working on farms, and did the best that he could. A lot of teenage boys wouldn't have had that kind of strength.
Sorry for the spoilers, I just had to get that out after reading some other reviews and all of the Sawyer bashing. If I were Reena would I have ended the book the way she did, probably not (it was incredible ambitious), but she was trying to live the life she put on hold after she became pregnant, but I will say that (sorry last spoiler) I'm glad she forgave Sawyer, there wasn't anything else that kid could have done to try to make up for his actions. He messed up, he tried to change, living in the past with do nothing but add fuel to the fire and no one will be able to move on.