Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

"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.

Release Date: July 31, 2012
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher

Pushing the Limits was one of my favorite reads of 2012.  I simply loved everything about it!  Reading the summary, I was afraid that the book was going to be nothing more than the tried-and-true formula of good girl and loner guy falling in love---a formula which works well and I do enjoy reading---but it was a lot more than that.   

Pushing the Limits touched on so many important issues: death of immediate family members, divorce, remarriage (a somewhat scandalous one at that), bullying, friendship, therapy, mental health issues and the foster care system.  That is a lot for an author to cover in one book, but McGarry hit the nail on the head with this one.  She struck the perfect balance between these heavy issues and a sweet and tender love story.

Pushing the Limits is told in alternating first-person point-of-view, with Noah and Echo as the narrators.  I love that kind of narrative!  I love getting to know both main characters so well, knowing everything they are thinking and feeling.  It adds so much to the story when I can see how both characters internalize the same events.

Both Noah and Echo have had very traumatic events occur in their past.  They have dealt with these events in different ways.  Echo is still trying to fit in with her old friends in the popular crowd, and doing whatever it takes to feel normal, even though she is dying inside.  Noah has earned a reputation as a 'bad boy' and decides to live up, or rather down, to what everyone expects of him.  Noah and Echo are thrown together by the school's new clinical social worker, whom they both see privately, when Noah needs help with calculus.  Echo is his tutor and they form a grudging friendship, and then, more.

One of my favorite components of Pushing the Limits was the fact that both of the main characters attend therapy for their issues. I can't stand it when authors 'solve' these kinds of major problems in a few lines, or with an unrealistic solution (like when love conquers all).  Both Echo and Noah work hard in therapy, and eventually really open up to Mrs. Collins, the therapist, and work through their problems in a positive way.  And all of this was handled in a non-preachy way.

The conflict resolution was my favorite part of the book.  There were several things that I really didn't see coming.  All of the characters grew throughout the book, as Noah and Echo grew.  As they changed, their relationships with everyone around them changed for the better too.       

Overall, I would highly recommend Pushing the Limits.  It's one of those books that made me cry, but in a good way, and left me smiling and feeling uplifted.  It really renewed my faith in the strength and goodness of the human spirit.  I know it was fiction, but I like to think that this kind of happy ending can and does happen in real life.  I think back on the book, days later, and a smile comes to my face.  It's not often that I can say that about a book, and so I tend to celebrate it when I read a book that is this good.


  1. Awesome review! I'm reading this book right now, I'm about halfway through and I keep picking it back up whenever I put it down, it's just SO good! I totally agree with the points you made about it, like how they actually work through their problems and stuff :)

  2. You know, I must admit I've kinda been avoiding reviews of this one. Maybe its the cover but it's all and all a turn off. But your review has me rethinking that. Thanks for showing me the error of my ways.

  3. I agree, great conflict resolution and showing there are no easy solutions, but seeing them work through things.
    Def one of my faves too, and glad that you enjoyed.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  4. I am so glad I finally got to read this one. It had wound up on so many people's favorite reads lists in 2012 that I knew I needed to read it. It reminded me a lot of The Sea of Tranquility in certain ways. Since TSOT was my favorite read in 2012, you know that I also loved Pushing the Limits. Echo is so darn likable. She's fragile yet strong. She really comes into her own by the end of the book. Noah. What's not to love? Such an amazing young man who had to grow up before his time. Perfect couple. Awesome read. Loved it.


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