Told in alternating PoVs, we get to see things from both Noah and Echo's perspectives. Noah is so enticing, it almost hurt to read about him from Echo's PoV.
"My insides had melted when Noah produced his wicked grin and gazed at me like I was naked. Luke used to give me butterflies. Noah spawned mutant pterodactyls."
"I met his dark brown eyes. His fingers skimmed the back of my hand. The sensation tickled like a spring breeze yet hit me like a wave rushing from the ocean."
I could keep quoting sections from Pushing the Limits that had my heart beating faster, or my toes curling in shocked pleasure, but that wouldn't be much of a review! I loved Noah for his heart. His concern for his younger brothers, the angst his separation from them caused, and his unrelenting pursuit to gain custody had my heart in a perpetual state of heartache for his situation. He was constantly saying how Echo deserved someone better, but I have a hard time picturing someone who could have loved her better. Genuinely unbothered by her scars - both physical and emotional - Noah was the rock Echo deserved; he was the stable presence her unstable mind needed.
Echo was just as heartbreaking, with the fear of turning out like her mother constantly looming. Her need for acceptance, for things to go back to normal, was something I could relate to - who doesn't want things to stay the same? For friends to stay as friends? Her pain was a constant, always showing even behind her smiles, which made her moments of discovery so much more heart-wrenching as it only added to that pain. Fortunately, she had Noah's understanding.
"It doesn't get better," I said. "The pain. The wounds scab over and you don't always feel like a knife is slashing through you. But when you least expect it, the pain flashes to remind you you'll never be the same."
Together, Noah and Echo were a force to be reckoned with. They brought out the best of each other, even during their rockier moments. And they had some rocky moments.
"The worst type of crying wasn't the kind everyone could see - the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life."
But they also worked as characters. Echo is a shining example of a heroine who is ok with not being ready for sex - she listened to her body's hesitancy and refused to succumb to the pressures of satisfying her (ex) boyfriends' needs - even if it might have given her that semblance of normalcy she so desperately craved. And Noah is the perfect example on how to write a teenage guy - his thoughts were constantly about Echo's cleavage or how she might look naked, and how he wanted nothing more than to have his way with her - but he was also respectful about her desire to wait, since he valued her for more than the physical pleasure she could provide him with. He never stopped wanting sex, especially from Echo, but he never once pressured her into anything she didn't say she was ready for.
Laid out bare, Pushing the Limits is a heartbreakingly raw look into what it means to make peace with those who have hurt you, with those who seemingly abandoned you in your weakest hour. Unapologetically honest and unflinching in the face of tough subjects - mental illness, death, abuse, love - Pushing the Limits has left me struggling to find the words to properly explain its beauty.