July 26, 2013

Book Review: Pushing the Limits

Author:  Katie McGarry
Length:  392 pages
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
On-Sale Date:  July 31st, 2012
Format:  ARC paperback

Echo Emerson wakes up in a hospital bed, arms covered in bandages, with no memory of how she got there.  She remembers going to visit her mother, and then … nothing.
Noah Hutchins’ parents died several years ago, and he’s been bouncing from foster home to foster home ever since.  The only important thing left to him is family, and Noah will do anything to gain custody of his brothers.
Flash-forward a couple of months:  Echo is trying to put her life back together, and Noah is failing miserably at being responsible and is barely allowed visiting rights to see his brothers.
Seeing the new school counselor is a step in the right direction for both of them, and ultimately it’s what shoves Noah and Echo together; but can falling in love make any of it easier?

Pushing the Limits was heart wrenching and heartbreaking, and I would read it again in a heartbeat.

I fell into this book.  All I wanted was to completely immerse myself in Noah and Echo’s lives.  Echo’s voice grabbed me from the first chapter and I was sold as soon as I met Noah.  I was on their side from the very beginning; Katie McGarry created characters you cheered for.

Pushing the Limits was a love story that you couldn’t help but fall in love with.  It was Echo and Noah, two broken teenagers, mending themselves and each other.  It was beautiful, painful and felt very, very real.

This was one of the most emotional books I had ever read.  My heart lay in little pieces on the floor and was put back together as the story progressed.  Noah and Echo had been through so much, even before the story began, that you couldn’t help but ache for them.  Echo was broken in such a way that she didn’t know how to fix, while Noah was filled with doubt because of how he’d been let down.  Instead of giving up, with all the odds stacked against them, they fought for what they wanted:  normalcy, family, answers … and they also, unexpectedly, found love and comfort in each other.

Echo’s relationship with her family was dysfunctional.  Her mother wasn’t even present, but the damage she had caused in Echo’s life was permanent.  Echo’s relationship with her unstable mother was extremely painful, and it left a bitter taste in your mouth.

Echo was going through an extremely rough time when she met Noah, but he somehow helped her wade through it.  She was looking for answers, and when she found them, they changed her.  Although it was impossible for her not to be affected by the truth, at least she was no longer restrained by ignorance and lies.  Unfortunately, the hardest part was that Echo was forced to learn some completely unfair lessons that she would never get closure for.

Noah’s brothers were wonderful.  They brought joy to the story when it was shrouded in sadness, and being a good big brother was an extremely important facet of Noah’s character.  Noah’s entire future was driven by the desire to be a good brother.  He wasn’t known for being especially caring, but Echo brought out that sweet side of him that was usually only seen when he was with his brothers.

Noah and Echo’s relationship was tender and moving.  There were many unexpected aspects to it that were actually very, very, sweet.
The two became even more likeable because they faced insurmountable odds.  They were admirable because they didn’t give up when they wanted to; they made the difficult decisions, and most of all, they fought to make things better.  Moving past the bad choices, and traumatic experiences were not easy for either of them, but having each other made all the difference.  Anyone who called Echo weak would be wrong, and Noah would melt your heart when you gave him the chance.

I could spend ages examining the depths of these characters.  It was wonderful to peal off layers as I read, and uncover more about Noah and Echo.

Things were not always fair, and sometimes it was very difficult to bounce back from a painful experience, but Echo and Noah coped as best they could.  Pushing the Limits taught you that it was better to let go of the pain and the grudges and the anger, and that even though it was the hardest thing to do, it could be done.

I’m proud of Echo and Noah.

Premise:  5/5
Plot:  5/5
Writing:  5/5
Characters:  5/5
Overall:  5/5

Disclosure:  I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publisher.  This did not influence my review in any way.


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