- Title: Pushing the Limits
- Author: Katie McGarry
- Series: Pushing the Limits #1
- Next Book: Crossing the Line (#1.5), Dare You To (#2)
- Source: Personal Purchase
Description from Goodreads:
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.
First, I just need to tell you that I almost regret even posting this description from Goodreads because it just doesn’t even do the book justice. But it is the description, so let’s just go with it.
I was a bit hesitant going into Pushing the Limits. I have kind of been in a book slump where I would think books were okay or maybe like them a little, but the books that reached out and grabbed me and made me keep reading were few and far in between. And I have a pretty hit or miss track record with contemporaries. However, I had heard good things about Pushing the Limits (which is why I purchased it on sale back in December), and I had an eARC of Dare You To to read, so I decided to pick it up. And let me just tell you that it did not disappoint. Pushing the Limits was exactly the book I needed to help me with my slump!
The two main characters are Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins, and the book is told in their alternating perspectives (which are clearly marked at the beginning of each chapter). When we first meet them both, they are meeting with and waiting, respectively, for the school’s new clinical social worker. We learn very early on that both of them have had some sort of trauma or difficulty in their pasts, but we aren’t sure exactly what it is at first. Echo has had a very traumatic experience that her brain has repressed the memory of, and she mostly works with the social worker/therapist to try to remember them. Noah is in foster care after the death of his parents. They are thrown together when Echo begins tutoring Noah. Very early on, they have a very tumultuous relationship, but the more time they spend together, the more they find things they have in common.
I thought that Echo was a wonderful character. She’s insecure and confused, but after her past experiences, it’s not surprising. She has scars all over her arms, and she can’t remember how they got there. She knows one tiny aspect that she wants to keep secret from everyone else, but because of this, she is subject to all sorts of whispers and rumors. She has gone from the popular girl to the outcast. She also has a strained relationship with her father and stepmother. I really enjoyed seeing her navigating these relationships while trying to remember what happened to her, reclaim her past, and establish her future.
Noah is amazing. I don’t typically like the bad boy with the good heart, but we very quickly find out that there’s much more to him than what he seems. He’s not really all that bad, but does have a hard exterior, for a very good reason. His interactions with Echo were some of my favorite scenes in the book!
Echo and Noah each have two close friends, with one that really stands out. For Echo, it’s Lila McCormick. She’s a pretty, popular girl, but she’s not petty (That would be reserved for Grace.) She is really there for Echo when she needs her and a great friend. This made me really happy because my oldest daughter’s name is Lila, and I’m not sure I could have handled a bad character with one of my daughter’s names! Noah’s friend is Isaiah. With piercings and tattoos, he comes across as scary and intimidating, but he’s a really great friend to Noah.
I think my favorite part about Pushing the Limits was the mystery. We learn little bits about Echo’s and Noah’s pasts at a time, so it really takes almost the whole book to find out the full extent of their pasts. It was a bit dark at times and definitely dealt with some tough subjects, but I thought it really worked, as it was interspersed with friendship, love, and character growth.
The ending was great, too. We get enough resolution to be happy with events, but enough left open for more character growth and realism.
Overall, I thought that Pushing the Limits was a really captivating story. I loved the writing style, I loved the characters, and though a bit sad, I loved the storyline, especially the way it all came together. I would absolutely recommend Pushing the Limits (and already have, in fact! My friend Jac at For Love and Books has already started it!