Publication Date: July 31st, 2012
"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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
If you've been a follower for awhile, you know that YA Contemporary is not my favorite genre, and I typically like YA Contemporary Romance even less. This book has changed that for me! I will now be more open to reading this type of book in the future because Pushing the Limits blew me away! It was fantastic! Once in awhile I come across a book that I can use a motivational tool- one that I can bribe myself to do much dreaded household chores with a one chapter reward for each chore done... I cleaned my entire house, top to bottom, in less than a day because I NEEDED to know what the next chapter would bring. This book was that riveting! Sooooo.... Would you like to know WHY I thought it was great? Well, there were many reasons, but before I get to the actual review, I must comment on the cover. The jacket is good. I like it. It's eye-catching, and I think the publisher captured how I imagined the main characters really well. However, I didn't love it until I removed the jacket! WHOA! Do yourself a favor and buy the hardcover (or win it here), because it is awesome! Now...
First off, I really enjoyed the characters, and their stories. This story belongs to the two main characters, Echo and Noah, but I'm going to mention first the supporting characters; Aires, Beth, Isaiah, Ashley, Luke, Mrs. Collins, Lila, Grace, Natalie, Mr. Emerson, Jacob, Tyler, the Petersons- they all had rather minor roles in this story, but huge impacts on it. I'm glad Katie McGarry took the time to develop them the way she did, intertwining their knowledge of who Echo and Noah were, when they weren't really sure themselves. As for Echo and Noah? Echo is a seriously damaged girl, who has every reason to feel lost and a little hopeless. She had a pretty awesome life before the "incident", but is now a scarred, bitter shell of her former self, and she doesn't have an inkling how she got there. All she knows is that some horrible thing happened to her, that it involved her bi-polar mother, who her father now has a restraining order against, and that she is left with horrible physical and emotional scars because of it. She knows that whatever happened was so awful that she has repressed the memory, and that during the one attempt to recover the lost memories, her mind almost fractured from the stress. Add to that the facts that her beloved older brother was killed in Afghanistan, the majority of her "friends" turned on her because of the rumors, and her super-controlling father is remarried to, and having a child with, her former (much younger) babysitter, and you have a recipe for a girl that has SERIOUS issues, through no fault of her own. Then there is Noah, who is, on the surface, the stereotypical bad-boy product of the foster care system. He smokes weed, drinks, and is known to be a total one-night-stand guy. Everyone at school thinks Noah is a loser because of the person he projects, but in reality, he is as damaged as Echo, for very different reasons. After losing his parents in a house fire, Noah went from foster home to foster home; he had some horrible experiences that turned him from the poster child for "happy" to the person he is today, but the worst was losing access to his two younger brothers. Through individual counseling with a common therapist, and their growing, yet reluctant, attachment to one another, the layers of both Echo's and Noah's pasts are peeled back, revealing secrets and pain that no person should have to bear alone... My heart ached for them, but at the same time, soared as they discovered one another in ways that only someone who can relate to your pain could.
I also liked the way the story was set up. I thought telling this story in Echo's and Noah's alternating POVs really brought it to life. It made them seem so much more real, and it accomplished the difficult feat of capturing how each one felt about, sometimes shared, sometimes solitary, events in their lives. It was a great way to be an outsider looking in, and it made me sympathetic to both characters when I could very well have become annoyed with either had it been told from only one POV.
Finally, I have to comment on the ending... I started to get nervous toward the final third of the book. I was really afraid that they were both going to make HUGE, life-shattering mistakes- mistakes that would effect the people in their lives like ripples on a pond. I felt like it was going to be either that, or a rushed, cliched, happy ending that didn't fit the story, and in either situation, I would have been unhappy. What I didn't expect was the satisfying, yet open to interpretation and new possibilities ending that I got. It was absolutely flawless!
Honestly, I had intentions of reading this book because it was blurbed by Simone Elkeles, a YA Contemporary writer who I happen to really like. I figured that if it was near as good as Perfect Chemistry, I would like it. Well, no disrespect to Ms. Elkeles, but Pushing the Limits was BETTER- like, in a class of its own! If you enjoyed her books, don't walk, RUN to the book store to buy this book, because you will not be disappointed! I'm still a bit shocked, given my past feelings toward YA Contemporary Romance, that this has been, to this point, one of my favorite books of 2012. It's not to be missed!
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ++++
Grade Level Recommendation: There are some really heavy themes in this book. Lots of teen drinking and drug use, some violence, abuse, and sex. I would say this book is best suited for grades 9 and up (ages 14+).
**NOW... For the giveaway! Thanks to HarlequinTeen both for providing my review copy of this fabulous book, and for providing a copy for me to give to one of ya'll! Best of luck!!**
a Rafflecopter giveaway