Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1) by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 392 pages, Hardcover
Release Date: 7/31/12
Rating: 4 stars

Summary on 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.

There is a LOT going on in this book. I will try to break down the main themes...

1. Tragic event causes life to spiral out of control and protagonist struggles but eventually succeeds at moving forward (x2)
Echo lost her brother in the Marines and soon after she was attacked by her own mother (bipolar disorder). Her mind supressed the memory of that night but she has the scars on her body to remind her. She struggles to regain the memory so she can understand and make sense of things.  She can't move forward until she does and meanwhile, her world is crumbling around her. Noah and his two younger brothers were put in foster care after their parents died but Noah lost visiting rights after hitting his first foster father in defense of another kid. After being branded "emotionally unstable" Noah has been screwed by the system time and time again until he said screw it to trying. But Noah is desperate to put his family back together and needs to refine his bad boy ways if he wants any shot of getting his brothers back. 

Any one of these stories could have been a book in itself. I felt for both Echo and Noah. Their hopelessness, desperation, confusion, anger, fear, unease... it was all in this book. Their entire life was turned upside down and they didn't know how to make it right again. I felt both stories started, progressed and ended well. No loose ends. 

2. Two misjudged teens find that they understand each other when no one else does
"'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.
My entire world collapsed around me as I answered, 'Yes.'"

Echo and Noah are unexpectedly thrown together and are surprised to find themselves drawn to each other. Neither one of them is like the other expected. As they grow closer, they begin to tear down each other's defenses and they learn to trust again. Together they start to face their demons, heal their wounds, and regain some of the normal they both long for. 

I liked how Echo and Noah gave each other strength. Their personalities complemented each other well and together they learned how to move forward. I think they made a good team and I enjoyed the growth we saw in each character as a result of their interactions. 

3. Bad boy and good girl fall in love
Even though Echo has lost her popularity and sense of normalcy, her reputation precedes her as they good, smart girl. She gets near perfect grades, stays out of trouble, and is still a virgin. Noah on the other hand, does drugs, sleeps around, disobeys authority all the time, and his grades are what brought Echo and Noah together in the first place. This part of the story is the classic case of bad boy falls for good girl and "wants to be better because of her". 

"Luke used to give me butterflies. Noah spawned mutant pterodactyls."

At last, the romance part of the book. Noah and Echo are both gorgeous (of course) and attracted to each other. Noah, your quintessential bad boy player doesn't know how to commit, so naturally we have to wait forever for him to grow some and tell Echo how he really feels. I liked the chemistry between Noah and Echo but if I had a dollar for every time I read the word "siren" or "baby" I'd have...maybe 100 bucks. It was a little much for me.

Overall, I think there was a just a tad bit too much of everything. So much was happening in this story it took me a while to actually digest everything. So many lessons to be learned, hurdles to overcome, stereotypes to break. 

But all in all I enjoyed this book. It got a lot of raving reviews, I was just a little late to jump on the bandwagon to read this. 


  1. I agree with you! There are a LOT going on in this book and I was like omg why can't people just be okay already. I am pretty sure I looked like the gif too! Overall though, it was an engaging book and a quick read. Wonderful review!

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, definitely both engaging and quick. How to you feel about the second book being about Beth? I wasn't the biggest fan of her in this book.

  2. I loved the story. I didn't think there was too much going on although I can understand where you're coming from. Good job on your review!

    1. For as much as I felt was going on, I think it was very well done. It could have easily been a disaster of unfinished plots and not enough detail but I didn't feel that way at all. I did really enjoy it but for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I found it harder to rate 4 stars than some of the other books I've given this rating too recently. But I thought it deserved more than 3 for sure.

      Thanks so much for your comment, I really appreciate it!

  3. I totally agree with your review. I loved it, too, but it was just a bit too melodramatic. I feel like they should have toned it down just a bit. And oh my god, yes! Those "babies" were causes for eye-rolls by the end of the book! But the chemistry between the two was off the charts.

    Great review! I'm a new follower. :)

    Kelly @ http://www.paper-fantasies.blogspot.com

    1. I am glad I am not alone :) Do you think you will read Dare You To? I suppose I will eventually but I didn't develop much affection for Beth in Pushing the Limits to motivate me much. I have heard good things so far though.

      Thanks for commenting :)


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