Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ARC Review: Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits
Katie McGarry
Young Adult Contemporary
Harlequin Teen/July 31, 2012

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

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.

This one surprised me.  In a good way.  I had read a couple of positive comments about the book and I did like the premise.  Plus, there doesn't seem to be as much Contemporary Young Adult as there is the more popular Fantasy Young Adult.  So I started Pushing the Limits and teared up by the end of the second chapter.  In a good way.   

The second chapter would not be the last time this story brought tears to my eyes.  It is, obviously, a very emotional read at times.  Both Echo and Noah have been through their own private hells and are still there trying to make their way out.  They've each gone through horrible loss and McGarry doesn't hold back when it comes to pulling out the emotions from these characters.  Not surprisingly, both Echo and Noah have their share of attitude, especially when it comes to adults.  As we all tended to be as teens, we think we know better than adults and adults have no idea what we're going through.  Echo and Noah are lucky when one adult, the school counselor, comes into their lives and refuses to leave.  Mrs. Collins was a wonderful character that didn't fall into that complacent spot so many adults in young adult novels do.

Echo's life is so far from perfect but it could be a lot worse without her friend Lila, who has stuck by her.  The way Echo and Lila interact and how their friendship plays out in the story shows very well the impact of  having someone stand by you when you are at your lowest. I'm glad McGarry gave plenty page time to show the depth of their friendship.  

Noah, whoa, my heart was breaking for him.  His life went from a happy, stable family to a foster home where he basically takes care of himself.   He needs more than what he is getting but his time in the foster care system has taught him not to trust adults.   Noah's life has made a complete 180°and we see how conflicted he is from who he was before and who he is trying to be now.  This is a kid who feels like he lost everything and is desperately trying to get some of that back.  McGarry created Noah in an image of a bad-boy persona but was still able to make him not only believable but get the reader to sympathize with him.   

Echo and Noah together rub either other the wrong way from the beginning.  They don't think they have anything in common and want nothing to do with each other.  But remember I mentioned Mrs. Collins, the school counselor?  She is smart and thinks Echo and Noah can help each other.  So they're put together for tutoring sessions.  As time passes, Noah and Echo each see beyond each others' outer-self to what is really going on inside.  I loved how they really began listening to each other and letting go of their preconceptions, allowing them to trust again. 

Pushing the Limits deals with a number of dark topics which the author handles well, delving into the subject matter with clarity and compassion.  Ms. McGarry is a welcome addition to my "must read" authors list. 

Rating:  A

Pushing the Limits
Dare You To (2013)


  1. Okay, I'm getting this one for sure. I've only read good comments so far! Glad you enjoyed it. And I guess I'll need some tissues when I read this one...

  2. nath ~ Oh yes! Tissues. I do so hope you like it!

  3. I've got this one in my tbr pile. All the positive reviews intrigued me, also I like that it's contemporary YA. I prefer that bucket loads more than fantasy and paranormal YA.

    I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one too! Makes me more excited to read it. Hopefully soon.