PUSHING THE LIMITS (Pushing the Limits, #1)

Author: Katie McGarry
Published on: August 1, 2012 (first edition)
 Young Adult, contemporary romance

Published by: Harlequin Teen
Format: E-book, hardcover, paperback, Audible

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.

But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common.

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.


Although I don’t read much YA, Pushing the Limits caught my interest because of its many favorable reviews. It’s also promoted quite often on Twitter. This book (and its series) seems to have a fan following comparable to that of the Imdalind series by Rebecca Ethington or The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski. The cover art also looks great, so I was sold.

Pushing the Limits is written in the first-person POVs of Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins. And yeah, I too noticed the heroine’s got an unusual name. Noah himself wonders what kind of mother would name her daughter “Echo.” We meet them one day during their senior year of high school. Although they’ve met before, Echo and Noah haven’t spoken to each other. They come from rather different worlds. Noah believes that Echo is the kind of girl who takes what she has for granted. She comes from a far more privileged home. In truth, Echo has just as many hardships in her life as Noah does.

To their chagrin, Echo and Noah are about to see more of each other. The former’s school psychiatrist has asked her to tutor Noah. He’s not exactly failing; he’s just going a bit off the track. Noah has gained a reputation as a womanizer slash stoner. In the past, Noah used to be at home in Echo’s social group. A tragic accident led Noah to become a ward of the state. He is now resentful about life and the bad luck he was dealt. Despite that, Noah’s never had suicidal thoughts. He has two little brothers whom he strives to take care of.

Noah and Echo grow to like each other as they spend time together. They both find that they had a wrong perception of the other. Echo’s opinion of Noah becomes even more favorable when he provides a way for her to fix her late brother’s car. This is something that Echo has been most looking forward to. The car is all that she has left of her brother, Aires.

“ I gazed into her beautiful green eyes and her fear melted. A shy smile tugged at her lips and at my heart…I was in love. 

Soon after, Echo and Noah are drawn further together by a common goal. They both share the same psychiatrist, who has thick files on them. Echo and Noah want to read their files for different, but powerful reasons. For Echo, it means finally overcoming the event that gave her the scars on her arms. Yes, Echo used to be one of the most popular girls at her high school. Something bad happened to her at the end of her sophomore year. A curious part is that Echo doesn’t remember it. Since then, Echo has avoided most social interactions. She also hides her arms from everyone, going as far as to wear gloves almost around the clock. For Noah, getting into his file is a way of obtaining the means to pursue custody of his brothers. They live with a happy family. Noah wants to save them from a perceived danger, though, as he’s been screwed over by the system plenty of times.

Against all odds, the pair of misfits fall in love. Echo is reluctant to give in to her feelings at first. The social punishment Echo will face if she dates someone like Noah will be worse than even she has faced. For his part, Noah doesn’t believe he’s good enough for her. That doesn’t stop him from continuing to seek Echo’s company. Noah’s drawn to her the way he’s never been to any other girl. One of the reasons is Echo’s scent, which I found funny. According to Noah, Echo smells like warm cinnamon and sugar. That paints a vivid picture in one’s mind, I think. I agree that a girl who smells like a bakery would be irresistible. 🙂

After reading the book, I thought that Pushing the Limits is really as great as people claimed it to be. Echo and Noah are a couple unlike any most readers will have met. Part of their attraction is that they’re not cookie-cutter characters. Noah is not just a devil-may-care stoner, and Echo isn’t the freak her peers believe her to be. These are two teenagers with hardships that transcend what most middle-aged people have experienced. The way the author developed her two protagonists is superb. Noah and Echo didn’t grow on me the way Andrew and Camryn in The Edge of Never or Carrie and Finn in Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin did. They came damn close, though. It’s just that Pushing the Limits was quite gloomier. I’d have liked it more if it had a bit more sunlight throughout. Still, this book is one of the best I’ve read. You can’t finish it without believing Katie McGarry is a skilled author. The way she weaves this story is remarkable. And there’s enough romance to lighten the book up a little. I would strongly recommend it. So what if it’s YA? Don’t let that stop you from picking up this book.

This novel is recommended for all ages. Violence level is mild to none.


4StarsSeriously liked it!



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