ARC Review: Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry.
ARC, 392 pages.
Publication Date: July 31, 2012.
Published by Harlequin Teen.
Source: ARCycling.

Goodreads Summary:
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.

My Review:
What a beautiful novel. Really. I'm so thrilled I was able to get this through ARCycling because I might not have given it a chance otherwise. I would have deprived myself of an amazing story and some excellent writing. Well done, Katie McGarry.

Echo and Noah both face some very tough issues. Echo can't remember what happened to her the night she got the scars on her arms. This scares her immensely, especially since she has tried to remember but almost lost her mind. She is also now the school freak due to her scars. The social ostracism she faces, through overheard whispers and laughter and even a shunning from her friend all serve to break Echo's spirit and her self-confidence. Not to mention the pressure of pleasing her father, for whom the best is never good enough.
Noah is a kid of the system, having been in and out of foster homes since his parents' deaths. Even worse than that, he is separated from his two younger brothers, whom he loves more than anything, because of an incident in his first foster home. He turns to his two best friends and to meaningless sex and drugs to deal.

When Echo and Noah begin to talk to one another, not only does a relationship seem unlikely because of who they are, but it also seems like one that would be doomed from the start. Echo refuses to fall for the womanizer who would just use her, and Noah knows he doesn't want any emotional ties. Clearly they're both forced to change their minds a bit.

I fell in love with this book and its characters. Echo and Noah came alive. Their feelings - their pain, their joy, their fear - all resounded with me.  I didn't love them from the beginning. They were too willing to be damaged. But as they grew in character, they also grew on me. They have a lot to be afraid of, but they are brave enough to try to live anyway. Even as Noah says that they will never know normal again in their lives, they don't give up their search for something close to it.

Mrs. Collins is a wonderful character herself. She is the one who brings Noah and Echo together, though her intentions only went as far as tutoring. She is present throughout the novel, helping Echo and Noah dig inside themselves for the truth behind their behaviours and really helps facilitate their growth. She is also, though, a unique and fun character all on her own. Encounters with her brought about many grins and chuckles throughout the story, but she also played a large part in some of the most important moments.

The relationships are extremely well developed. Echo and Noah's moves at a really good pace, and although it really just starts as a physical attraction, that's not unrealistic. I really loved that instead of changing for each other, they grew as their own people into what they needed to be for themselves. It made them seem much more honest as characters. The dynamic between Noah, Echo, and Noah's best friends/honourary family members, Isaiah and Beth, was always interesting and was sometimes funny, sometimes tense. It was a great, mixed relationship of love, hate, and family. I also adored the relationship between Noah and his younger (blood) brothers. Since he has limited contact with them, there are limited scenes involving the brothers and this made those scenes have a truly powerful impact. The scenes with Noah and his brothers made me cry. Twice. They were so honest and raw and I fell in love with all of them.

In the end, I wish I could talk about every little aspect of the book that caused me to fall in love with it, but we'd be here forever. It was a stunning look at tough issues and how the teens who deal with them can be down, but never truly out. It explored various relationships in a truthful and beautiful way and showed that there really is more to someone than what you see. They just need to find something to truly believe in and strive for, and the help of a little push along the way.
I truly can't give this any less than 5 Stars.


  1. Ok. That's it. I give up.
    I must get this book.
    I've heard about it. And I've read so many good reviews about it. But I was all like 'huh, sounds nice'.
    But I'm finally convinced.
    It's time to go out and take a run... to Barnes & Noble :)

    1. Yes! I did it! I convinced someone to read it!
      I'm so glad to hear that. I'd read a lot of positive reviews as well but never thought to actually get it... it was totally worth it. I really hope you love it too! :)

  2. I've already been hearting this book for a while. Don't have it yet, but definitely will soon. Great review!

    1. Oh, good! I hope you do pick it up, I was pleasantly surprised. And thank you very much :)

  3. So happy that you loved your first ARCycling book! <3 This is among my favorites of the year (:

    1. Me too, thanks Lili :) I'm glad to hear you loved it as well!

  4. I've been wanting to read this book FOREVER, but stupid Amazon won't give me a good deal.

    Yours is one of the best reviews I've read for Pushing The Limits, and I am once again drooling over this book, even though I've never read it. I'm seriously contemplating breaking me "no books over $8" rule and ordering it. Now.

    Kelly @ http://www.paper-fantasies.blogspot.com

    1. First off, thank you very much! I'm so glad to hear you liked the review and I'm thankful that you took the time to leave a comment, thank you!
      I think this might be a rule-breaking worthy book. It was fantastic and I definitely recommend you scoop it up when you can. I think it'll be worthwhile :)
      I'm glad you left your link and thank you for following! I'll definitely stop by your blog!

  5. I have this book on my to-read list. I am interested in it for sure. I really enjoyed reading your take on the characters, their growth, and their relationship. Excellent review! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven

    1. Thank you very much! I hope you decide to bump it up on your to-read list; I really think it's worth it :)

  6. Yummy book! This was one of my favorites of 2012. I'm usually a fantasy person, but this book is one of the reasons why I got back in my contemporary swing! It' ssuch a great read - I gave a copy to my friend for the holiday! I absolutely cannot wait to read Crossing the Line, Dare You To, and Crash Into You! Great review :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I don't usually read a lot of contemporary, but this one totally got me too! I'm also beyond excited for her other books, especially Dare You To! Can't wait :D
      Thank you!

  7. I loved this book as much as you did :) I loved reading your review and remembering all the good times I had whilst reading this book. If you want to check out my review it's here: http://abookparadise.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Pushing%20The%20Limits

    Have a nice day, Tanya

    1. I'm so glad to hear that you loved it too! Reading happy reviews of books you loved is so great for bringing you back to it. That's awesome :)

      Hope you have a nice day too!


I'd love to hear what you think!