Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter- Website
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age group: YA
Pages: 392 (Kindle edition)
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository
Description (from Goodreads):
"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.
So wrong for each other...and yet so right.
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.
Back in 2012 when this book was published I probably would have absolutely adored this one. I would have willingly given my soul and body to Noah Hutchins. And I still kind of did occasionally. But unlike the 2012 Milka who would have kept re-reading this book time and time again, the 2014 Milka did enjoy it and liked it, but didn't love it. You might ask why? This review hopefully gives you an answer for that.
Pushing the Limits deals with some pretty gruesome and dark things. Echo is physically and mentally scarred from an event she cannot remember. All she knows that she was found bleeding from her mother's apartment and that at the time her mother was off her bipolar meds. Living with her father and his new wife, Echo is trying to fit it by attempting to be invisible - if no one sees her, she will not have to show her scars and explain what happened to her. She yearns for the normal she was used to before the incident - friends, popularity, boys - but cannot seem to be able to grasp it as hard as she tries. When she is appointed as a tutor for the mysterious Noah who's reputation as a bad boy is not unknown to anyone, things start to change.
Noah is known was a playboy around the school and he does not really do anything to deny or play down that label. After his parents died, he has been jumping from one foster family to next, which has resulted in him giving up hope for ever finding normal again. The light at the ends of his very dark tunnel are his young brothers and the possibility of re-uniting them after he turns 18 and graduates from high school. But in order to prove himself as fit for becoming practically a parent for two young kids, he needs to get his act together. That's when Echo, the ex-popular girl with mysterious scars and back story shows up in his life and changes everything.
With dual narration, McGarry gives voices to both Echo and Noah. The Echo we first meet is fragile, slightly depressed and extremely confused. She desperately tries to find love from wherever she goes, but fails because she isn't able to open up for the people closest to her. She is scared of fully revealing herself to anyone, mostly because she does not herself know what is buried deep in her mind. Noah is angry and feeds her confusion with rebellion, pot and meaningless hook ups. He loves his brothers and desperately wants to spend time with them, but it seems like the more and more he tries, the more distant his brothers become - they are close, but he is not allowed to see them and to spend time with them. He tries to keep up a facade of toughness and nonchalance, but deep down he desperately misses his parents and just tries to do his best to keep his life together, if not for himself, then for his brothers.
Noah and Echo connect because they both feel broken. They have accepted that the normal they were used to isn't going to come back - though Echo can hide her scars, they are going to stay in her skin for the rest of her life. And though Noah can sleep around and smoke pot in an attempt to make himself feel better, deep down he never can forget what happened to his parents. What happens between them kind of felt like instalove (which probably really would have appealed to the 2012 Milka), but on the other hand I do get why the instant connection between them happen - they understand each other's situations and though they both try to resist the temptation, they can't.
One thing that really made me cringe occasionally while reading this book were some of the side characters, especially Echo's old BFF Grace. For the most of the book she was just this cliche, bitchy girl who cares more about her popularity than her friend. I do get that high school is cruel and that appearances matter a lot, but I think at some level the whole issue was taken to the extreme in this book. I do get that Echo's "image" was partly a result of her own actions (she acts like she has something to hide), but the whole thing of her being a freak and all that got to be a bit too much at points. Also one thing that just in general really annoys me in books is when the male protagonists continually call their significant others "baby" (I have a feeling I have complained about this before too in relation to some YA books). For some reason I just find it REALLY annoying (maybe because I hate that type of pet names) and every time I see it repeated in a book constantly, I usually drop my star rating by one just because of that. I know it sounds silly, but it is just a thing that really irks me, and since my reviews are MY opinion, I am going to say it out loud.
All in all, Pushing the Limits was just what I needed to give me something else to think about after a day spent reading about the media coverage of school shootings (I am doing a presentation on that for my media events class). Since I really liked how this book ended, I probably won't be picking up the sequels any time soon. I know they (at least the second book) focus on the other characters rather than Echo and Noah, but I have a feeling that they probably will make cameo appearances, like the characters do in the books of Stephanie Perkins. For now, I am happy with how Noah and Echo end up in this book.
I am probably among the minority of YA contemporary readers who read this quite this late, but really, if you like YA contemporary and haven't read this one, you really should give it a go. It is romantic and sweet, but it also deals with some real issues and problems - like the best kind of contemporary books do!