Pushing the Limits

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impossible to forget this story.
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
~Noah and Echo~

Noah is the lost boy, the stoner kid with an attitude and a trail of scored girls behind him. Pushing away the feelings of grief for his dead-three-years-before parents, he wants to find a way to reunite what’s left of his family. Echo is the school freak, the girl who attracts all sorts of rumors for the scars she keeps hidden beneath the long sleeves of her shirts and with a past that screams complicated. Bad boy bounced around from foster home to home meets the girl with family pressures. They share the long-standing grief that only people who have lost know.

I fell for Noah and Echo just about instantly. Concentration swapped between dual perspectives, two distinct voices, they quickly dug their way into my emotions, until I became so wrapped up in them, so… almost protective and on guard. I couldn’t handle anyone else in their lives disappointing them, hurting them with lies or the truth. It didn’t matter how many well-meaning people came and went into their lives—the result was the same: hurt. And I wanted to rip every single person responsible apart. Noah and Echo have to hurt and heal and grow up before they’re totally ready, one painful step at a time, uncovering things about themselves and others that wouldn’t exactly be considered positive. There’s so much anguish and despair here.

When the two plow into each other’s lives? I. COULDN’T. GET. ENOUGH. Noah is the boy who does one night stands, not long term relationships, zero kinds of attachments. And Echo is sure that no one will ever love her, not with the ghastly signs of mutilation running up and down her arms. Both of them yearn to be loved, unconsciously waiting for this dazzling opportunity to be with someone, when given the chance, who will finally put them first. My heart turned over in my chest with each hungry look, heavenly kiss, beautifully insightful conversation.
~The romance~

Echo and Noah have always known of each other. And have been, I think, subconsciously wary. What starts out as stupid teasing, Noah is intrigued. Emma wants to forget he ever opened his mouth. Throw the two together for tutoring? We’ve got taunting looks, mean teasing, and casual brushes of flesh all with an undercurrent of really hot sexual tension. Want someone to swoon over? Noah Hutchins is your man! Guy sure knows how to smolder, a sexy hunter to prey whose resistance is being demolished inch by steamy inch.

Between dodging ape ex-boyfriend eager to mate and having scorching encounters with a certain jacket-lending, torturously tempting possibility playing pool (how many naughty images raced through your head just then?), Echo’s love life has suddenly become way more interesting than she could’ve initially imagined. It’s really no toss-up. The boy who takes her to a war action movie following the death of her older brother in the Marines does not spell excellent boyfriend material. Good thing Echo’s a fantastic speller. First place, championship fantastic!

When Noah Hutchins does the boyfriend thing, I all but flung my undergarments to the wind. The ruthless guy with the dark good looks goes tender? He becomes all shades of attractive and desirable. He’s not just interested in kissing her and having a warm body under him on a whim. Only with Echo. Their relationship is full of plotting, laughter, pain-sharing, despair, trust, vulnerability, and love. They crease our hearts in all sorts of ways and places.

~The issues~

Whoa, baby, does this book bring on the problems. Would I call this an issue book? NOT AT ALL. This is a contemporary romance through and through with touches of self-discovery and coming-of-age elements. The issues serve as haunting pieces of the characters and the brunt of the force driving the compelling plot. They aren’t a message to anyone listening, necessarily. Still, both Noah and Echo deserve really big, tackle-glomp hugs. Showers of affectionate kisses and shoulder patting and more squeezing. They need love.

There’s abandonment, grief, death, growing up, separation, divorce, drugs, and all of this effects both Noah and Echo’s lives in varying degrees. They have to tackle these problems alone and together, and it wears on their relationship as well as their relationships outside of their own. They go through so much by the end of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry that there can be no question as to their climbing character growth. There’s no absolute healing or perfect ending. These issues are aspects of their lives they will have to push out and fight and accept in order to continue with their lives and be happy, which made it beautiful and achingly realistic, adult.

~Is this love?~

It most certainly is! I can say I love Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry nearly as much to equate to Special Shelf, which is pretty darn amazing. It’s heart-wrenching, and it’s deep, touching every trace of emotion we could feel for characters who become two of our greatest friends. From Echo’s trying to fill the very fragile void of memory pertaining to the scars she can’t bear on her own to Noah’s fight to be with his little brothers, my heart went through the wringer with Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, and I couldn’t pull away.

McGarry balances the ending of her novel between realistic and satisfying, leaving us with hope, love, and happiness so full and exciting it would be next to impossible to forget this story.

Looking for something similar? Try checking out Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout and/or A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger!

Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, 5/22/12
Good Points
my thoughts in a few sentences: I KNOW. This book doesn’t come out until the END OF JULY, and I’m being a total tease for posting this review up SO EARLY. But, I HAD TO. I had to read this book (lying in wait of this on netgalley turned out to be more painful than anticipated), and I had to get the word out about this book ASAP. It is amazing, seriously. I’d go so far as to say it’s a damn near perfect contemporary romance! Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry takes the classic bad boy meets good girl story and twists it up so that not only is there WAY MORE than their stereotyped labels beneath the surface, but also so that the romance is extra delicious, intoxicating, and thorough.
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Gritty amazing contemporary
This is one of the best contemporaries that I have read in a long time. Both of the main characters have been through so much and show so much strength and determination to live and press through. It is amazing how Katie McGarry wrote them to both be in so much pain and deal with things differently but still connect on such a deep level.
Echo really came into her own throughout the book, and the journey was hard, emotional and affirming to watch. She was a character that I connected with right away and I rooted for her to stand up to her dad in the right ways, connect with Mrs Collins who is her councelor working through things with her, and to find her own normal. It really does add an element to the story about her brother Aries. He was a Marine and died in service. I feel for her loss, but I feel that through her memories he made such an impression. His sacrifice, and his love for his sister when he was there. This is such an important topic to read about too, I have friends who are serving and I used to be in JROTC, but honestly, I have no idea what it's like to sacrifice so much for our freedom, both the men and women serving, the families back home waiting or the ones who have died and again the families feeling the loss.
Noah personifies bad boy, but we get to see his soft spots, his love for his brothers, and how he slowly lets people in. Like the councelor said to him at the beginning there is so much potential in him, academic and otherwise. I really loved how he admired Echo, and how he treated her with respect. He brings out the best in her, and that is quite a quality in a guy. Sure, he has his moments where he is a jerk, especially before he knows her, but when their friendship really develops, its beautiful to watch. It really melts my heart how he doesn't define her by what happened to her, and how comfortable he is with her scars, where it freaks most others out. He really did it for me, and I loved the hotness going on between them. There were some really swoon worthy moments, hotness and sweetness both were covered.
The layers to Noah really amazed me though. It wasn't only his attitude and actions towards Echo, but his all encompassing love for his brothers. It is such a beautiful relationship drawn out here, and I can't say much without spoiling, but Noah's heart and motivations where they were concerned made me almost cry. Katie McGarry painted some amazing pictures here about family--through Ashley and Echo, how their relationship changed, to Echo and her brother Aries relationship. Also with Noah and his blood brothers that he is seperated from (in different foster homes) to his non-blood brother and sister Isaiah and Beth, how circumstance can really draw people together, closer than family in some ways.
I love the dual perspective of the book, hearing from both Noah and Echo really adds to the story, and it also attributes to the good pacing. We have all of these internal battles going on, but it never feels repetitive, and it plays on my emotions.
Once I picked this book up, I did not want to stop reading it. Their story was like crack and I couldn't get enough.
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Deals with honest, serious topics but in an amazing way
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
This is an amazing book about the struggle of two troubled teens trying to put the shattered pieces of their life together and finding true love on the way.

Okay, the main characters have truly messed up lives.

Echo has horrible scars, a mentally ill mother, a control freak father and a dead older brother. Her life is far from perfect. Noah also was an amazing character. His parents are dead and he's not allowed to live with his brothers. Everyone labels him a bad boy, but he isn't on the inside. No one sees the depth of pain and tragedy that he's in.

Both of them are angry with their lives. The book is so well written it's like their worries and problems are yours.

The romance in this book is not a definite love-at-first-sight thing. It builds up really slowly, and unlike lots of other YA contemporaries, it's not the focus of the book. Sure, they end up together, but the book is really about them coming to terms with their lives and helping each other through the difficulties.

The issues that this book deals with are very serious. Abuse. Neglect. Truth. Lies. Love. The bond between family. This is not a light-hearted pick me up. It's very deep and emotional.

A few little things just bugged me slightly about the book. For example, Echo's reliance on her "popular" friends, and her need for approval, although I guess, this is high school. It's understandable. I also wish there'd been an epilogue or something. The ending was kind of happy-for-now, but I think I would have liked an epilogue, maybe like 5 years into the future, so we could see what happened to them, because the next book isn't about Echo and Noah.

Apart from those things, this was an amazing book that was written perfectly. I definitely recommend it, even if you're not usually a fan of contemporaries.
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I Haven't Cried So Much Since The Fault in Our Stars
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
I was wary going into this one. It sounded too issue-y. But I'd heard nothing but rave reviews about it from trusted sources and the romance was supposed to be epic, so I went for it.

And oh this book. It hit my Right. In. The. Feels. I read this on my Kindle and pretty much cried through the last quarter of it.

Echo. Oh Echo. Her story made my heart hurt, that poor girl. She'd been through so much and suffered so much and I just wanted to hug her and then help her draw again. And then Noah. Freaking Noah. He wants you to hate him but you can't because he is secretly the sweetest, bestest boy on earth. I love Noah Hutchins so, so much. He is probably one of my new favorite YA boys.

And this story? Jesus. I kept thinking the romance was going to be the best part of the book, the part that pulled me through. But there was no "best part." There was Awesome Part A, Awesome Part B, and Awesome Part C. Echo's story, Noah's story, Echo and Noah's story. Both of the characters had really intense, horrible stories that no teenager should have to deal with. I was utterly hooked on both stories and was just so hungry for more, for their happiness. And then their romance was like the shining beacon, the happiness they couldn't find elsewhere. And it was cute and adorable and intense and passionate and dhjdhsklgndjsnsg STOP I CANNOT.

The writing was told from alternating first POV between Noah and Echo. Katie McGarry really knew what she was doing by going back and forth. Both perspectives were crucial, obviously, and both characters had their own distinct voice and life and personality.

Guys, I don't think I can gush about this book enough. It is now one of my favorite books ever and you will seriously regret it if you don't pick it up. It's like no other contemporary I've read and oh how I adore it. Please, please, PLEASE pick up this book.
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I'd give it a hundred stars if I could!
(Updated: January 05, 2013)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
I usually never read contemporary, so this is me going out of my comfort zone. I've seen many (many) rave reviews on this book and when Harlequin Teen sent a copy to me, I just had to give it a try. Who knew I'd fall in love with it so quickly?
Okay, that last line wasn't entirely true.
I did love it, but it took me a while to realized that I did.
Pushing the Limits is definitely a 'wow' book. It's got the forbidden romance, the nail-biting suspense, the heart-stopping moment where everything finally pieces together. It also had it's frustrating moments where I just wanted to skip a couple of pages because either one of the characters was acting really unbearable or I just wanted to get to the good part.
This is one of those books that takes patience... lot's of it.

The whole book is written dual POV's (Echo's and Noah's).
Echo's character is really super troubled. She's a narrator you can't trust (So be warned). She has a twisted way of seeing things (And I don't mean that in a nasty way). The problem with her is that she believed everything her dysfunctional mother told her, and she expresses these beliefs by mouthing off a couple of times. She lost her memory of the night she got all those scars, so most of her opinions of that night in the beginning of the book are assumptions. And most of the book revolves around the mystery of what really did happen that night.
Echo is a very realistic character, especially for a troubled teen. She's indecisive, stubborn, unbearable at times, hormonal, emotional, and insecure. But her character develops impressively throughout the book. I ended up loving her like a sister.
Noah, on the other hand, is... well, a handful. He's hot. Like super, incredibly, bad-boy with tattoos HOT! He's funny (hilarious!), really really sweet, and did I mention he was hot? He's awesome, I loved him!
He's definitely, 100%, positively swoon-worthy all the way.
He's ten times more rational than Echo is... even though he has a couple of mind slip-ups here and there.
He fights for what he loves, and he knows that sometimes letting go is the best thing to do.
I just... wow... he left me breathless. He made me want to cry.
His relationship with Echo wasn't forced. It wasn't one of those insta-love things, it slowly progressed over time and it was perfect. McGarry added the perfect amount of drama and thrill to spice things up.
I'd give them the 'best couple of the year' award.

The story itself is beautiful. It's about how two broken people find a way around their problems and they fall in love while they do. Echo wants to remember what happened that night she got those ugly scars.
Noah just wants his brothers back.
They both want normal.
Even though this is a contemporary novel, McGarry seriously knows how to work magic in her words. I could not put this down. At. All. It's not easy to not think about this book, and it'll be even harder to forget. I'll probably be rereading it soon just to watch Noah and Echo fall in love all over again.
I don't even know what to say anymore. This is a MUST READ and I'm really really really happy that Harlequin Teen sent me a copy or else I'd never have read this and I would never have realized what an amazing author Katie McGarry is and I would have never read any of her books.
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amazing!
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Between Echo and Noah you can tell who has the worst problems. Echo was once a popular girl but after an incident alone with her mother left her with gruesome scars on her arms and no memory of the night, Echo can't be the girl she once was. Noah's parents died in a fire and after being bounced from one foster home to another, his only thoughts are getting custody of his two young brothers when he comes of age. Even with both of their problems can the two form a bond?
This was an amazing story that has twists that will blow your mind.
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Pushing the Limits
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
This book blew my mind. So good.
Good Points
I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book, and it totally lived up to all of the hype. At first, I was not sure I wanted to read it. I am usually not into the bad boy thing, but I am so glad I went ahead and read it. This book was so good. This book deals with a lot of really tough issues. Usually I have a hard time reading books like that, but I could not stop reading this one. It was written in the perfect way, and it completely drew me in. They both had to make some really tough choices. This was such an emotional book! I loved the romance between Noah and Echo. As much as they tried to fight it, it was still there. I really liked that we got to see the soft side of Noah when it came to Echo. It showed that he was not just a crazy bad boy, and I appreciated that. Everyone has a soft side.
This book broke my heart at times. At other times, it made my heart very happy. I don't know what else to say about this book except it was amazing and I totally recommend reading it.
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The hype doesn't lie!
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Where do I start? Seriously, Pushing The Limits is everything I want in a book. Great characters, solid plotting, and the type of story that makes you want to cry and smile in equal measures. This is contemporary writing at its finest. No mermaids, no werewolves. They aren't necessary here. All the reader has are Echo, Noah and their stories, and you know what? It's perfection.

I truly don't believe that there will ever be two characters that I will love so wholeheartedly as I love Echo and Noah. Both broken in their own ways, these two fit together perfectly. Echo Emerson is a shell of the girl she once was. The death of her brother, the loss of her mother, and the inability to remember how she got her terrible scars, all eat at her on a daily basis. Meanwhile Noah Hutchins is lost in his own world. Fighting the foster care system and trying his best not to get close to anyone. If there's one thing Noah knows, it's that getting close to someone means you can get hurt.

Then, they meet. Did I mention the word perfection? There's no insta-love here. Just a slow progression of two people who go from being wary of one another, to slowly trusting one another, and finally to having that pure feeling of contentment every time they're together. Echo and Noah have the type of romance that makes you sniffle and giggle in the same sentence. I'll be the first to admit that I have a massive crush on Noah Hutchins. Don't let his bad boy persona fool you. There's a great guy under there. So great in fact, that he's my new favorite male character. I dare you not to swoon.

What is really impressive about Pushing The Limits though is how well it deals with so many different issues all at the same time. Echo and Noah may be facing two very different backgrounds, but their problems are deep. Problems that range from high school issues, to the foster care system. Their lives are the type of gritty reality that a lot of teens face, and most people don't want to acknowledge. Life for these two is far from normal. It's this that teaches them that sometimes, just sometimes, you have to make your own normal.

There really aren't enough words in the world to describe my feelings for this book. You should know that love is all I have for Katie McGarry and her characters, and that I am so happy that I took the time to meet Echo and Noah. I hear that there's another book coming out from one of the other character's point of view! If Pushing The Limits is any indication of the brilliance that will be within those pages, I can't wait.
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Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
This book was an emotional roller coaster. I cried my eyes out at some points and I smiled like an idiot at some points. But everything was so worth it.
Noah and Echo (I loved her name :] ) couldn't be more different. But through all their differences and the drama that is evident in their lives, they look at their similarities and fall for each other... And they fall hard.
Both Echo and Noah are very strong characters. The story went back and forth between their point of views which made it easier to connect with both characters. This made every discovery they made about their past and each other even more intense.
As for their romance, it felt real and not rushed. It wasn't the insta-love that normally creep up in YA novels and I really enjoyed that. I also loved the fact that McGarry didn't have to make any other part in the story suffer to help make their love work. Everything was well put together and well balanced.
Everyone should add this stunning debut by Katie McGarry to the TBR pile. She definitely does NOT disappoint.
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The MUST read contemporary of the year!
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
I have to say, Katie McGarry has a way with words, she sent me through an emotional roller coaster right along with her characters... and her words, Echo and Noah's love story, has left a mark on my heart.

Echo and Noah have more in common than they think - they both used to lead the perfect teen life: popular, gorgeous, outgoing, smart and with promising futures. Until separate tragedies happen to both that leaves them physically and emotionally scarred forever. When Echo and Noah meet they were set on the fact that they would lead very different and lonely lives from what was expected. And that they would never have anything in common, least of all, get along - how will they ever be able to get through their mandatory tutoring sessions?
Watching Echo and Noah let their guards down and try to trust and understand each other is not easy. Their stories and hurts run deep. The connection between the two runs even deeper. This is not your typical love story. But it is definitely one with no regrets, full of hope and wonder.

And do not underestimate any of the secondary characters! Each and every one of them will leave their mark on you too. They each have a story to tell, and Katie McGarry is able to show you just enough to let you know their stories to sympathize with them... or not.

Katie McGarry's writing is beyond mesmerizing! This is THE contemporary of the year!

And I have to add - in the back of the (ARC) book, the author shares a playlist for Pushing the Limits. All of the songs listed are wonderful and include music by Patty Smyth, Train and Kings of Leon...
One of my most favorite songs of all time: Crash Into Me by The Dave Matthews Band is listed!!! And this is the song that she listened to every time she had to write a kiss scene for Echo and Noah :)
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