August 10, 2012

Healing the Hurt • Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits book cover
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication: July 31, 2012
Source: BEA 2012 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the contents of my review.]

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.

A lot has already been said about Pushing the Limits, but I still want to put in my two cents. This is such a powerful story, and one that I am so, so glad that I was given the privilege to read (and I have Lena to thank for convincing me to read this right away!). Katie McGarry has written two characters – Echo and Noah – that I definitely loved. Their stories are incredibly compelling, emotional and heartfelt. There’s sincerity behind the novel, and it shines through right from the first page. 

I’ve said it many times before, but I feel like this novel in particular is a prime example of a story I loved because of the characters. I absolutely loved both Echo and Noah because they seemed so real to me. They were high school teenagers, but they were afflicted by life situations that made it so hard for them to be normal like everyone else. Though I wished that they didn’t have to endure these incredibly difficult things, I loved watching them both come out stronger, wiser and smarter with each of their steps towards healing and letting go. 

Noah is the type of guy that a lot of people will love – brooding boy with a bad rep, who really has a heart of gold. My favorite thing about Noah is how much he cares about his brothers. I have a huge soft spot for guys who place great importance on their family, and Noah definitely did that. And of course, I absolutely adore that his feelings for Echo, despite beginning with an instant attraction, developed into something sweet and genuine. He really did care about her, and I loved that. I wasn’t too big on the repetitive description he used of Echo as a siren, but it didn’t bother me too much. 

Echo, on the other hand, is a complex, interesting character. She was basically just your normal teen, whose life changed completely when the “incident” that gave her the scars on her arms happened. I felt for her as she struggled to discover the truth about what had happened to her; her frustration and fear were so clear that I was hurting right along with her. It was hard for me to watch her deal with her family issues and with her return back to “normal” life, but I was rooting for her the whole way. I was fascinated by her combination of intelligence and artistic skills. It’s very easy for me to feel like Echo would be a friend of mine, and that’s what I loved best about her. 

There is no way I can write this review without mentioning Mrs. Collins and Lila. Mrs. Collins is an amazing person. I was so inspired by her effort to reach out and really help both Echo and Noah, and we need more people like her. It was her persistent need to help them both achieve peace and stability that reinforced all her actions and I think she should be applauded. 

And Lila is an amazing friend to Echo – she is immediately by Echo’s side, no matter what, and she isn’t afraid to stand up for that, unlike some other people in the book. There is a point where I get frustrated with her, but she does show her true colors after that. Good friends are a rarity in books, and I’m glad that there’s a good friend in this one. 

There are, in reality, three stories that are told in this book – Noah’s story, Echo’s story and Noah & Echo’s story. While Noah & Echo’s story was sweet and heartwarming and romantic, it was really their individual stories that I enjoyed reading. It was incredible to walk side by side with these characters as they attempted to heal – Noah as he attempted to deal with the separation from his brothers, Echo as she attempted to recall just what had happened to her and move on from it – and I think Katie McGarry did a superb job in making both stories real and compelling and full

This book deals with a lot of tough stuff, but all of these different things were handled incredibly well. It could have turned into too many issues stuffed into one book, but a balance was somehow struck and maintained from beginning to the end. 

Pushing the Limits is a complex tale of healing, transformation and love, with issues and characters woven perfectly into one seamless tale. While the romance was definitely a strong point, it is really the stories of Echo and of Noah that I enjoyed reading. I applaud Katie McGarry’s ability to write a story with characters that I completely loved, and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.


  1. I didn't love Echo or Noah but I did enjoy Mrs Collins, she was a fantastic character! Wonderful review, Alexa!

  2. That's exactly how I felt about the book (although I really did love the romance too haha). But it was the characters and their individual stories that really made the book stand out to me. Awesome review!

  3. Everything you loved, I totally.. (I was going to say Echo, but that's a cheesy pun) agree with. I cannot wait to read more from McGarry. I loved the intricacies of this story and that the pacing seemed to match the story so well. Everything worked for me!

  4. Characters are so important to me, so I'm really glad to hear that they made this story. I was already interested in this one, but you've made me pretty pumped!

  5. I loved this one to pieces. It's the perfect mix of romance and issue - which is my favorite kind of contemporary. I'm excited about the next book, Beth's book, but I have to admit that I do want MORE of the story of Noah and Echo. (Also, Ms. Collins was awesome.)

    Great review, Alexa!

  6. Your two-bits were worth reading. Adding another to the TBR list. :-)

  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book. I loved it! Both Echo and Noah were wonderful characters, and I actually liked jumping from one POV to the other (I usually don't like that).

    There is just so much to love about this book.

  8. I did like the both Noah and Echo's stories in their own right. And I agree with you that there was balance in the tough subjects. The book was never depressing, though it could have easily been. And you're absolutely right about Mrs. Collins! There should be more people like her, I loved that she genuinely wanted to help other people and was ready to go to great lengths to do so!
    And yeah, Noah was pretty awesome with his brothers! :D

  9. This was a great book! I wasn't going to request it, but then everyone was talking about it ... so I caved! And it was instant love. Echo and Noah were great characters -- while I didn't like their instalove, I understood it. I think two damaged souls are just drawn to one another.

    Great review!

  10. Lila was the only friend of Echo's I actually liked. I really wanted to punches the others in the face. This book was absolutely amazing! Great review, new follower :-)

  11. I'm so glad to hear that the characters are strong in this book! Characters are the most important part of any story for me. I'm really looking forward to reading this book because it sounds similar to Simone Elkeles' books, which I love.

  12. Such an amazing review Alexa! I couldn't agree more with everything that you said. This was truly an incredible book and you can tell the story was touching because I ugly cried hardcore at the end of it. Not because the ending was sad but because I had so much pent-up emotions throughout the whole thing.

  13. AWESOME review! So glad I could convince you to bump it up your list. ;-)

    Mrs. Collins and Lila! I'm so glad you mentioned them in your review. I agree that the romantic aspect in this story was great, but it's the characters that made this book so grand.


  14. So glad that you put in your "two cents"! ;) You did a wonderful job capturing Pushing the Limits. Noah & Echo, they just... *sigh* Okay, Noah & Echo... I completely agree with you about the both of them. They captured my heart. Also, I'm so glad you mentioned Mrs. Collins and Lila.
    I think you said it best when you wrote about there really being three stories in PTL, and I think Katie did an awesome job writing and making each story so vital & captivating.
    Another awesome review, Alexa! <3


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)