Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: July 31, 2012
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Summary: 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.
Friends, PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry is, in general, a pretty hot, legit romance/drama. Noah and Echo are damaged kids–in very different ways, of course, but it’s their personal demons that bring them together. There’s some crazy shenanigans, and occasionally their relationship had this weird element of cheese to me, but overall, PUSHING THE LIMITS is packed with drama, excellent make-outs, and two characters with lots of baggage who are easy to root for. I’m a fan of all those things.
Guys, Katie McGarry has really made the characters the centerpiece of her debut. Noah and Echo have all this internal and external SHIZZ that is all over the map of awful things that can happen to young people: dead parents, foster care drama, split families, adoption, physical scars, repressed memories, crazy parents, dad-slept-with-the-babysitter-and-now-she’s-my-stepmom. If that seems like a lot of drama for two kids to have, well, it probably is a teensy bit heavy-handed. But I promise, when you’re reading PUSHING THE LIMITS, it doesn’t seem that way. All the drama in Noah and Echo’s lives seems, unfortunately for them but good for us readers, natural. I’m pretty sure that’s not the right word, but you get guys understand, right?
Because without all the drama going on around them, Echo and Noah would probably never come together. See, they share a school therapist. And at first, they are not big fans of each other. Of course, they gradually get over this as they hatch a plan to sneak into the therapists office to gain access to each of their files: Echo so that she can find the answers to her questions about what happened the night she got the scars on her arm, and Noah so that he can find the name and address of the couple who are fostering his two younger brothers. It’s shady biz, but as you read you understand Echo’s growing frustration with not knowing the truth, and you ESPECIALLY understand Noah’s feelings of helplessness and even greater frustration at not being able to see his younger brothers, whom he loves, and his fear at the thought of losing them. No lie? Noah’s story made me cry several times. I just can’t deal with big brothers showing affection, and little brothers being adorable. I seriously can’t.
Now, I know I mentioned the making out before, and PUSHING THE LIMITS has lots of it. And it’s all awesome and emo and dramatic. Echo and Noah are good together, even though the foundation of their relationship is their mutual issues and their plan to break into the therapists office and steal personal, private information. I have to say this, though, and maybe it will seem insignificant to you, but it speaks to the cheesiness I mentioned earlier, too. Noah calls Echo “baby” all the time. ALL the time. I’ve never been so annoyed by a term of endearment. I mean, “baby” has always seemed either insanely cheesy or smarmy to me, and so even though Noah’s feelings behind it were genuine, every time he called Echo “baby” it just seemed patronizing or something to me. As the story progressed it really started rubbing me the wrong way. But really, on the whole, their relationship was great and very genuine, if a little effed up.
Guys, there have been some really great, emotional contemporaries out this year, and PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry is definitely one of them. Noah and Echo’s story made me feel butterflies and it made me cry. Sure, it had some elements that seemed to toe the line of melodrama to me, but I was really invested in Noah’s story, and Echo’s. Her issues with her mother were really upsetting and beyond CRAY, and I wasn’t kidding about not being able to handle brothers who are adorable to each other. I’m looking forward to more from Katie McGarry, friends. (And I do believe we are getting more from the characters in this book. One of Noah’s friends, Beth, will be a main character in the next book. I think.) Huzzah for contemps with FEELINGS!
“Because growing up means making tough choices, and doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean doing the thing that feels good.”