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.
Oh, my poor heart! I didn't think a book could affect me so much, but this one did. The intense emotions and circumstances of the characters touched the raw edges of my soul I try so hard to protect. The synopsis for Pushing the Limits does not do the book justice. There have been tons of books written about damaged girls who find solace in a "good bad boy", and vice versa - this is not one of them.
Noah and Echo have been through a lot in their short teenage lives. Echo knows that something horrible happened to her at the hands of her own mother, but no one will help her remember that horrific night. She is a pariah at her high school, a freak in long sleeves, and only has a handful of friends she trusts. Noah, on the other hand, is an orphaned foster home reject, separated from his two younger brothers because of his temper, and determined to do anything it takes to get them back. Two completely different people, but both damaged and in need of understanding, love, and most of all, a second chance.
Throughout the book, we watch Echo and Noah try to reclaim pieces of their previously "normal" lives. When their paths cross in the office of their clinical social worker, Mrs. Collins, they begin a tumultuous, confusing, passionate relationship that left my heart beating fast, and at times, with tears in my eyes.
Noah is nowhere near perfect, and he certainly makes his share of mistakes when it comes to his relationship with his two adorable little brothers. He wants what's best for them, and believes their place is with him, despite the fact that their foster parents seem to be loving and dedicated. My heart ached for their little family and the trauma they experienced with the death of their parents.
Meanwhile, Echo has to deal with a distant father and a heavily pregnant babysitter-turned-stepmom, both of whom she thinks are a bit too involved in all aspects of her life. As the mystery around that fateful night slowly unfolds, it quickly becomes apparent that Katie McGarry does not shy away from tough subjects, like mental disease. As if Echo didn't already have enough on her plate, she's also dealing with her grief following the death of her older brother, who died in combat.
I cannot begin to tell you how amazing the character development is in Pushing the Limits. Even secondary characters, like Echo and Noah's friends, and virtually unseen characters, like Echo's mom, take on lives and personalities of their own. In particular, the story of Noah's friend, Beth, is very intriguing and will actually be the subject of Katie McGarry's next book. (Can 2013 hurry up and get here already?!) Pushing the Limits also allows for a peek into the foster care system, which is not always a healthy community with happy endings for orphaned and unwanted children. Mrs. Collins determined involvment in the lives of Echo and Noah was admirable and touching, and a true testament to the selflessness of the very best social workers.
There is so much to talk about that is precious and worth mentioning, but I feel like I would give away the best parts of the book that I so desperately want you to discover and experience for yourself. Suffice it to say that Pushing the Limits will leave you feeling a bit raw and vulnerable, but also happy and hopeful for the future. I am beyond impressed with Katie McGarry's debut novel, which has made me a fan for life. I think you will be, too.
*A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.