Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 2012
Synopsis (from goodreads):
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.
It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago Echo Emerson was part of the popular crowd. She had the perfect boyfriend, the perfect set of friends and the perfect older brother who looked out for her no matter what. These days Echo eats lunch alone and spends a large chunk of her days in the schools social worker’s office. With long sleeved shirts, she hides her arms from the world and the painting that was once her passion is now part of the past she would rather have left behind. All she wants is to graduate and leave the memories behind.
Noah Hutchins is the local bad boy – a reputation that he deserves. Known for entertaining females in the back of his car, getting high with his mates and sporting tattoos on his biceps, Noah also has secrets in his past. After his parents died in a fire a few years ago, Noah has been in many foster families and seen the worst the system has to offer. All he wants is to graduate and get custody of his two little brothers before the system abuses them like it did him.
She’s upper middle class and he’s definitely from the wrong side of the tracks. But after the new school social worker puts them together as tutor and underachiever -sparks fly. Neither is thinking of romance and considering their social groups would never approve of such a union, a relationship between Echo and Noah seems inconceivable. But as the school year goes on and both the teens’ histories coming back to haunt them, they grow closer and realize that maybe, despite their backgrounds, they have more in common than either of them ever would have guessed.
I did like how the relationship between Noah and Echo grew over the course of the novel. Both are hesitant to form any kind of lasting or intense connection but as they both evolve as characters so too does their relationship. I liked them together. Even with Noah using my most hated term of endearment (baby… eww!) and despite the fact that at times I felt like he was more in love with the concept of Echo than he was in love with Echo the person. I also had a few issues with Echo being so completely in love with Noah so quickly – it seemed a little fast considering how closed off she was at the beginning to not only loving Noah but to being IN love with Noah. At the start they didn’t like each other. She thought he was a jerk and he thought she was a snob with a rockin’ body… With only a few encounters – and both of the characters having such significant personal issues – they’re at the stage where Noah gets in a fist fight with Echo’s (ex)boyfriend over her at the Valentine’s Day dance which would only be six weeks or so after they are first properly introduced.
I did like Beth, Isaiah, Lila and the rest of the secondary characters. These characters are ones that I could relate to. High school is tough for a lot of people and I felt like McGarry touched on a lot of the reasons why I personally found it tough. The rumours, the faux friends (like Grace) and the importance of appearance over everything else.
There were a few plot points that I did find a little confusing. Why did no one – not even Echo’s best friend – realize that Echo may have problems watching a war film considering her brother was killed by an IED? Why did the seemingly over controlling Mr Emerson let an unsupervised teenage boy into Echo’s bedroom? Was Mrs Collins (the new clinical social worker) part fairy-godmother? These aren’t exactly things that contribute all that much towards the overall plot but they did nag at the back of my mind for a significant part of the time I spent reading the book.
I did enjoy reading this book. It’s fairly fast paced and has characters that I loved reading about – I was really wanting Noah and Echo to have their happily ever after. It’s a sweet novel despite the swearing, drug use, sex and violence where for Noah and Echo there is such thing as a happy ending and nothing from their pasts is too bad to rise above.
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