Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Review

Monday, August 13, 2012

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publish Date: July 31, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher
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.
Echo was the IT girl. She had it all plus the world at her feet. Popular and pretty, Echo lived in the thick of it until the one night when everything changed and the entire facade was ripped away. Left with horrible scars on her arms and a nearly no memory of what happened, Echo just wants to go back to normal. Noah, however, changes things again. He's bad news, and Echo knows it, but there's this attraction and chemistry between them that she just can't deny. It might just be enough to bring a little bit of hope back.

Hey, remember when I said I hated contemporary fiction? I reserved the right to change my mind and...holy HELL...Pushing the Limits slapped me in the face with one heck of a wakeup call. Author, Katie McGarry, has crafted a fine work of fiction, seamlessly weaving the complexities of the teenage experience, internal drama, external turmoil and vivid characters into one mesmerizing story. Better yet, the drama, though intense, is real and alive, inviting you into the characters' worlds for a firsthand glimpse at their transformations. With an overriding theme of love and the ability to change, Pushing the Limits brings the genre into a new light for me.

When you think about it honestly, Pushing the Limits features everything I hate about contemporary fiction. The drama, the romance, the seemingly endless emotional turmoil - all of it usually deters me from reading contemporary novels. With Pushing the Limits, however, the story somehow toes the line from start to finish, never overstepping into the realm of being cloying. Echo (LOVE her name, by the way) was a fantastic character, lending an air of depth to what could have been a very shallow and boring plot. She's multi-layered, rich and dynamic, and the turmoil that simmers below the surface makes her easy to relate to while giving her an air of vulnerability. Then there's Noah. Good Lord. What is it with bad boys named Noah?! In all honesty though, Noah seemed every bit the bad boy, but there was this gentle sweetness to him, despite the rough edges. It was almost as though it was a little shell of protection for him, too, as he desperately wants to put the remnants of his shattered family back together. And when Noah and Echo are together, the chemistry is electric. Honestly, the dynamic between the two characters simply leaps from the pages. Pushing the Limits is alive. It's painful, heartbreaking, soulful, sweet and utterly romantic. It's one of those books that will break your heart and put it back together again.

There aren't too many books on my shelf that I will read time and time again, but I can guarantee that this will be one of them. I give it a flawless 5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and romance.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I LOVED this book. I read it during my contemporary month when I was *learning* to like contemps. What I found was that books like this one (romance-contemp + issue-contemp) are the ones that I like best. It took 30 days of nothing but contemporary YA fiction to come to that conclusion, haha. 

    Seriously, though, I loved this one. I devoured it. And was sad when I got to the end. I'm excited about the next book - but I won't lie. I want more Echo and Noah, so I hope they're in the next book A LOT. Beth is interesting but I've already fallen for Echo and Noah. 

    So, so glad you liked this one! 

  2. YES TO ALL OF THE ABOVE! This is definitely a book I will be reading again and again, I loved it so much! Stunning review:):):):):)

  3. YES. This book was amazing. I was an especially big fan of the characters, as I thought their stories were told really well and were very realistic.

  4. You have piqued my interest.  I've started to steer clear of contemporary reads lately.  Issues books are just too much for me lately.  I've been enjoying MG fantasy quite a bit.  Anyways, I digress, since you are someone who usually doesn't read this genre and you say this book changed your mind - you love it - well, that makes me think it MUST be worth reading.  I can get it from the digital library.  Thanks for the thoughtful review.

  5. More and more I'm seeing the true charms of YA for the first time. You reserved the right to change your mind about contemporary fiction and I'm exercising the same right about YA.
    I never for a second knocked YA but it took me a really long time to "get it" with YA. I think I'm getting there.thanks in no small part to your review of Pushing the Limits.

  6. Thank you so much for your kind words! I think YA gets a bad rap sometimes, but books like this really boost the genre if we can just get it as mainstream as possible :)

  7. I'm glad you're interested! This one was just so well done that even if issue books tire you - this will make your spirit soar :)

  8. YES! And the relationship was honest and true, whereas so many YA romances seem cloying and fake. :)

  9. YAY! I loved, loved, loved this one, and obviously I had to text you about it first ;)

  10. I'm so glad you loved this one, too! Echo and Noah are such a fantastic coupling - as well as individually. I'm hooked :)

  11. Wow - okay, this is so not my usual kind of read AT ALL, but you have me totally wanting to read it after this review! I think it means a lot more to me than other positive reviews of it because it's coming from someone who also dislikes contemporaries. I also get frustrated with all the excess emotional turmoil in contemporaries, so I am so relieved to hear that this problem never came up with Pushing the Limits. Awesome review, Melissa!

  12. Fantastic review - you said it all perfectly. This book definitely broke my heart and put it back together again. Although contemporary is one of my favourite genres, I do wish there were more books like this - real problems, real emotion, real characters.


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