Pushing the Limits Katie McGarry

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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.

This book engaged me from the first few pages. The author draws you into the lives of Echo and Noah and slowly reveals the secrets of their pasts and their families. You increasingly see their scars both physical and emotional. Their ostracism is palpable. You feel their insecurities, their need for acceptance, and their fear of not being accepted at all. Their new guidance counselor pushes them both individually and together, but is their biggest supporter.

"Think Mrs. Collins put the two most depressed people together on purpose?"

Trust. Why not ask me to do something easier, like prove the existence of God? Even God had given up on me. "I've already lost a piece of my mind. I can't trust you with What's left."

...Noah Hutchins-girl-using-stoner boy and jacket-loaning savior...

At first, Noah appears to just be an apathetical stoner that does not care about anything. But as you learn about his love for his brothers and he develops a protective streak for Echo, you begin to see he is a good guy that was just dealt a bad hand in life.

Noah Huchins meant nothing but bad news. First he made fun of me. Then he saw my scars, Then he destroyed my hopes of fixing Aires' car. Then he made people think we were doing "it".

And Echo. She used to be the perfect talented, smart, and popular girl. But now her scars are physical, emotional, and run deep. She is struggling with loss, with her family dynamics, her lack of support, and mostly with trying to remember a blocked out tragedy that changed the course of her life in one night.

They seem all wrong on the surface, but in many ways they are just what each other needs. Noah becomes enthralled with Echo and unraveling her secrets.

We'd read about sirens in English this fall; Greek mythology bullshit about women so beautiful their voices so enchanting that men did anything for them. Turned out that mythology crap was real because every time I saw her, I lost my mind.

"Echo, I can't tell you what's going to happen because I don't know. I don't hold hands in the hallway or sit at anyone else's lunch table. But I swear...on my brothers that you'll never be a joke to me and you'll be much more than a girl in the backseat of my car."

And together they can understand and support each other's issues and begin to help each other discover what they need to heal. Of course there are problems and things are not easily resolved. But you cannot help but hope that they are able to find their way together and the answers that they both need.

"You ready for a new normal?"..."Yes, and I'm driving."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am glad that Tammy recommended I read it. I am looking forward to the sequel Dare to You.

Pushing the Limits is one of my all-time favorite books.  It was one of my first forays into the Young Adult genre and hooked me from page one.  I am a huge fan of “damaged” boys, or stories that have angst in them. It however, has to be the right amount of angst and well written. I want to relate to my characters, I want to feel every single emotion and then some. If the story is written right, I will usually need a box of tissues along with telling my husband to shut up when he is shaking his head and laughing at my face full of tears. To sum it up, Katie did all of this for me. She made me fall in love with Echo and Noah. I rooted for them, and I was hurt and angry on their behalf. I felt their love and their chemistry. I know firsthand their life story. 

Echo was the rich popular girl who had something tragic happen to her. Leaving her broken and no longer top of her game in her high school. She has been termed crazy, and because she can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t correct them. Echo is artsy. She had a brother she lost in war. Her father has started a new family and well her mother is really  mentally “crazy.” 

“Because the only way anyone will ever be okay with me is if they love me. Really love me enough to not care that I am damaged.”

“I watched you battle against the worst memory of your life and I watched you win. Make no mistake, Echo. I battled right beside you.”

When Echo comes back to school after a disappearance act, she is surrounded only by her best friends Lila and Natalie. Everyone else pretends around her or makes fun of her. Life is no longer “normal” for Echo. She just wants to remember. She is damaged.

Noah, I relate the most with Noah. He had no one, placed in a foster care system that done him wrong in more ways than one, and on more than one occasion. His only thought is to graduate high school and put his family back together. He was going to be the soul guardian for his brothers. Noah learned early on that family was whom you made it. He had two best friends that he would sell his soul for. Learning the hard way this bad boy kept everyone at a far distance.

“I’d learned that no one in the system gave a crap. Once you entered you were damned.”
“Look, man, I get it. We don’t do attachments. We don’t depend on something or someone.”

On paper, Noah was the epitome of a bad boy. He was a stoner, let his grades slip, didn’t always follow the rules and girls knew it was only one night with him. Noah didn’t do relationships. 

Enter Mrs. Collins, clinical social worker.  Placing Echo and Noah together for tutoring. Noah needs to get his grades up for more visits with his brothers, and Echo needs the money to fix her brothers car. What started out as too teenagers plotting to get their case file quickly turned into that of friendship and mutual attraction. Neither knew how to have any type of personal relationship, they hid not only from each other but also from themselves. Echo looking for normal and Noah just looking for something to call his. 

“Yes…no…I don’t know. I want normal, Noah. Can you give me normal?
“When are you going to figure out that doesn’t exist for people like us?”

Echo and Noah are real life people, not just fictional and their story is one of many real stories out there. Their struggle through being teenagers and dealing with heavy emotional baggage that most adults couldn’t handle just draws you in. Watching them find each other, and trust in each other makes your heart grow with warmth. They were real, their love was real, and Katie made them jump straight off the page. Noah was patient with Echo when he needed to be and Echo let him no in so many different how much she would sacrifice herself for him. They were each other’s rock.

 “I’ll always save you.” Because I would. I’d move heaven and earth. I’d willing walk into hell and stay there. I’d give up anything and everything.”

I was provided with this book from the publisher for free via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!


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