Review Detail

4.5 26
Young Adult Fiction 1188
Deals with serious topics, but doesn't dwell on them! YA Contemp done right!
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Pushing the Limits is told in first person point-of-view alternating between our heroine, Echo Emerson, and our hero, Noah Hutchins. Echo used to be one of the “it” girls; she had it all: popularity, jock boyfriend, and good looks. Literally overnight, everything changes for her. She’s now on the outside looking in, and the worst part is she doesn’t even have the memory to go with the evening that turned her life upside down, only horrendous scars on her arms that become the purpose of everyone’s gossip and label her a “freak.” Somewhere in the dark recesses of her mind is the secret to what happened that night, and Echo will do anything to uncover the mystery.

As an observer, Noah Hutchins appears to be your stereotypical girl-using badboy who partakes in alcohol and drugs to cover up the truths he wants to bury himself in. However, in actuality, he’s the good guy that makes bad decisions based on the hard path he’s been set on. His parents were killed in a fire that he feels partly responsible for and that led to him being placed in the foster care system. Knowing firsthand that the system used to protect you isn’t safe at all, he’ll stop at nothing to get his two younger brothers back into his custody after graduation.

Our two main characters know of each other, but they don’t really know one another at all. Being that they were never a part of the same social circle, they both had preconceived notions about the other, but it doesn’t take long for them to form new ideas. Now with them both seeing the same counselor at school, they’re pushed together in every way possible, making it hard to ignore the growing attraction between them. In the end though, they’re both driven by their ultimate goals and hatch a plan to aid each other in obtaining the information they need most to get their lives back on course.

Personally, I believe Katie McGarry delivered a masterful tale of former popular chick meets brooding, girl-using bad boy. There were so many opportunities for the author to give in to this clichéd, overused and often predictable plot device, but it seemed almost reinvented in this novel. She allowed each of the characters to speak for themselves, interweaving the dual POV’s flawlessly, and allowing us to enter the head-space of these emotionally driven teenagers. Not only did she do this seamlessly, but each character and their narration felt authentic. Echo was presented as this broken girl just searching for a sense of normal in a sea of uncertainty. Like most teenagers, she wanted the acceptance of her peers, but most importantly, the love of her father. Noah often came across as crude, but to me, I felt like I was reading exactly how a real guy would think, not how a girl- the author- thinks a guy would think. This made his character more believable, and I appreciated that aspect. But it was the layers that you discovered in each character along the way that made them so multi-faceted for me. Being able to experience their growth throughout the story as they transformed into young adults made this an even better read.
Though the relationship seemed to progress relatively quick, how they interacted with one another never came across as contrived.

Plus, their chemistry was amazing, and I savored each delicious scene they had together. The closer they got to one another, the more I rooted for them and crossed my fingers for steamier scenes because… well, yummmm….

McGarry has an undeniable way of drawing you in to this heart-wrenching tale, and I experienced the full range of emotions throughout this roller coaster ride of a book because of the extremely raw and grittiness of the story-line. It deals with several deep issues that broke my heart while infusing it with hope all at once. With every page, she managed to pull me further and further into this world and held me captive with her realistic- and often tough- approach to the struggles and harsh realities presented throughout, making my heart ache with each painful dip. The pacing of the story flowed easily and the secrets were revealed at all the right times. In the end, all the pieces clicked together like the perfect puzzle and you truly grasped why every character had behaved the way he/she did.

Verdict: I think everyone should read this story. Even though it deals with harsher topics, it’s doesn’t dwell on them. And make no mistake about it, this is definitely a kissing book. Lots of really, really great kissing in here. There was several times that I laughed out loud, and all the secondary characters are great all on their own. Well, actually, I take that back. Most are great, her dad, step-mom, and former best friend are horrible, infuriating people.

**Note** An e-ARC of this title was provided by HarlequinTEEN via Net Galley, but did not influence this review in any way.
Good Points
Great character development and excellent kissing scenes!
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