Thursday, March 21, 2013

REVIEW: "Pushing the Limits" by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
(Pushing the Limits #1)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository

For Ages 13+
Young Adult -- Contemporary
Harlequin Teen --July 31, 2012
Ebook,  397 pages
Received from Netgalley

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.   

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

"My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead, and my mother has...well...issues.  How do you think I'm doing?"

Pushing the Limits is one of those books that I had heard about from all my blogger friends last year.  Like most readers, I am always nervous when I start a book that has the type of hype this one had.  Thankfully, I found this book to be an enjoyable and thought-provoking experience that met my expectations.

The best part of this story is the characters: primary and secondary.  Ms. McGarry really understands the people who inhabit her fictional world and isn't afraid to make them less than perfect.  She also knows that the key to a great book is the journey that the characters go on which is the main focus of Pushing the Limits.

Our two protagonists are Noah Hutchins and Echo Emerson, two high schoolers who are having a difficult time getting through their days without going crazy.  They have both gone through reputation changes since entering high school and have some major issues to deal with.  What is great about these two is how they go beyond the reader's first impressions of them.

Noah, at first, appears to be the typical teenaged bad boy with an attitude.  But, readers quickly learn that he has had a tough time since his parents' tragic deaths compounded by his unsuccessful efforts to gain custody of his two younger brothers.  Noah is understandably angry at the world and has to learn to control those emotions if he ever wants to be a major part of his brothers' lives.

Echo, on the other hand, was a popular girl until one night when something occurred that left her scarred and depressed.  She slowly starts to spiral when it seems like everything is going wrong from her brother's death to her stepmother's pregnancy to her mother's mysterious illness.  For most of the book, her main focus is figuring out the mystery behind her scars and what really happened that night since she doesn't remember any of it. 

Noah and Echo's relationship develops in a slow and satisfying way.  We see them interact as acquaintances and then friends and then ultimately something more through a variety of encounters.  The thing I really enjoyed about this love was that these two distrusting people had to learn to trust one another to get what they wanted.  Through trusting each other, Noah and Echo were able to understand their own motives and eventually become happier.  Each of them has their own issues to deal with and none of them are magically fixed by the power of love, but readers can see the beginnings of healing.

I also enjoyed reading about all the side characters that Noah and Echo interact with on a daily basis.  Some of my personal favorites included Noah's foster siblings, Isaiah and Beth, who have stories of their own to tell that I can't wait to read.  I also liked the characterization of Echo's friend Lila and how she strived to help Echo in anyway she can despite what others thought of her.  Another secondary personality that really struck me was Noah and Echo's counselor, Mrs. Collins, and how she was able to help these two troubled kids despite their early impressions of her.  I definitely hope to see more of her in the other books in the series.

Another thing I liked about this book was how it dealt with real issues rather than over-the-top drama that can be found in quite a few contemporaries.  I don't want to spoil much of the plot, but a few of the topics covered in Pushing the Limits are mental illness, death, grief, separation, and foster families.  Every issue is written with great respect and never white-washed for the audience.  This helps readers relate to the characters while also giving them something to think about after finishing the book.

***4.5 Stars***

---The worst type of crying wasn't the kind everyone could see--the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.

---I love you enough to never make you choose. 

1. Pushing the Limits
1.5. Crossing the Line (Coming 2013)
2. Dare You To (Coming 2013)
3. Crash Into You (Coming 2014)



  1. I loved the journey of Echo and Noah and because of her great character creation I loved the secondary characters as well and I can't wait to read Dare Me To. Great review!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  2. I'm always skeptical about reading hype books too, I always feel like I'll judge them too harsh and hate them. PTL was the best book I read last year and honestly Mrs Collin was the star of the book. I loved her parts with Echo and Noah. Fabulous review!

    1. I was nervous about this one, but thankfully wasn't disappointed. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Wow, what a great review. I reviewed this book a while back, but yours is awesome. I loved PTL. Mrs. Collins is one of the best side characters to come along in a long time. She has a modern day quirky Mary Poppins quality to her. I didn't know about the novella or the third book. I'm adding those to my shelf. Thanks so much!

    1. Mrs. Collins is like Mary Poppins! Great comparison! Thanks for commenting.

    2. Adding on...I think I saw that the novella features Lila and the next two books are about Beth and then Isaiah!


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