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.
Pushing the Limits is unlike anything I've ever read before. It's a beautiful story filled with touching moments of love and loss. The blurb of the book doesn't do it justice. I was expecting a light, chick-lit kind of book, and I was so surprised when I found out it was nothing like that! I would recommend this book to everyone. Literally. It gives you a new perspective on life, and it teaches you to appreciate just how lucky you are that you haven't gone through everything Echo and Noah have.
Echo and Noah are both very troubled teenagers in their own separate ways. When fate-sorry, the school counselor- brings them together, they form an alliance in order to get what they need from the counselor's office. This alliance brings them closer to one another in a way they could never imagine, and this novel shows how they deal with that along with all the other problems they're facing, and how they discover themselves.
The first thing I liked about Echo was her name. I love Greek mythology, and I knew immediately that she was named after the nymph who was cursed by Hera. What I love about Echo is her character and her strength. She grows a lot over the course of the novel, becomes a lot wiser, and learns how to forgive. She also learns to love herself and not hide what makes her who she is.
I loved Noah so much in this novel. I loved how much he cared about his brothers and how he'd do anything to get them back. To me, he didn't seem like a stoner or someone who uses girls. Maybe because meeting Echo changed him. He's damaged by the death of his parents and the loss of his brothers, but, like Echo, he grows a lot too and finally realizes that his goals aren't realistic and never will be. He learns to compromise. He learns to love. And Echo is with him every step of the way.
One thing I didn't like about Noah was his overuse of swear words. I get that he uses them a lot, but in every freaking sentence? That was a bit too much, and it kind of spoiled a few nice moments in the novel. Like this one here, for example -
We’d read about sirens in English this fall; Greek mythology bullshit about women so beautiful, their voices so enchanting, that men did anything for them. Turned out that mythology crap was real because every time I saw her, I lost my mind.
Greek mythology bullshit? Okay maybe I'm being too harsh because I really love Greek mythology, but I think this part would be a lot more memorable without 'bullshit' and 'crap' in it.
Anyway, I loved Echo and Noah's relationship. Going from two people who barely knew each other (and didn't even remotely like each other) to one of the best couples I've read about, Echo and Noah are incredible together. I want to share one quote from each of them which show how much they love each other.
“I love you enough to never make you choose.”
“If you’re scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don’t walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here’s the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I’ll try.”
I love how supportive Noah is! He doesn't seem anything like that in the beginning, and this just shows exactly how much he changes and develops in this book. Echo loves Noah just as much, and she's incredibly understanding of him. She knows how much he wants his brothers back, and she also knows she can never compete with them for Noah's love. She's willing to take as much as she can get. That's another reason I really like here - because she's not bitchy and jealous and annoying.
The minor characters in Pushing the Limits were also very developed, and I thought that was awesome. Most authors leave supporting characters in the background without giving them much of a story. Katie McGarry strayed away from this, creating such emotional minor characters that I found myself sympathizing with them too.
Beth and Isaiah are Noah's best friends. Well, more like siblings. Isaiah is Noah's foster brother, and Beth ends up living with them most of the time because of her abusive home environment. Beth is badass and blunt, but amazingly loyal. She doesn't like Echo at the start, but once she does, it's with her whole heart. I think the two of them can become very good friends. I found Isaiah awesome too, and his obsession with cars was so adorable to see! I was rooting for Beth and Isaiah to get together in this book, but sadly it didn't really happen. I know that the sequel, Dare You To, is Beth's story after the events of Pushing the Limits, but the blurb says a new guy is introduced and I wonder what that means for Isaiah...
Mrs. Collins was a character I had mixed feelings about, probably because of her complexity. She's the school guidance counselor, and does a whole lot more for Echo and Noah than any previous one has ever done. She annoyed me sometimes, okay loads of times, but on the whole I think she's a good person and she really wants to help. It's thanks to her that Echo and Noah got to know each other, and I guess that makes her pretty awesome. She's also very wise, and the advice she gives them can apply to us too.
“Because growing up means making tough choices, and doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean doing the thing that feels good.”
This novel is a little above the general level of YA novels, and I don't think people below the age of 15 should read it. It is, however, an amazing debut, and I think you're missing out if you haven't read this one yet. The ending was perfect, and I was glad that it wasn't a traditional happily-ever-after. Because that wouldn't have suited this book. I really liked the dual POV in Pushing the Limits, because it allowed me to understand and sympathize with both Echo and Noah. However, it felt a little redundant sometimes, when a scene begins in say, Echo's POV and then the same scene carries on into Noah's POV. Other that that little quirk, I loved the concept of it.
So to sum up, Pushing the Limits is one contemporary novel you do NOT want to miss out on! It's engaging, moving, and tells a heartbreaking story of two people who find the strength within themselves to grow up and move on from their personal tragedies. If you see this book out there somewhere, pick it up immediately. You will not regret it!
*Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eGalley of Pushing the Limits*