Contemporary Young Adult
Releases July 31st
Gifted from Bailey at IB Book Blogging
Read as part of the All Male Review Challenge
THE STORY (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.
MY THOUGHTSFrom the outside, Pushing the Limits appears to be a story we’ve seen before. For all intents and purposes Echo is the good girl, excelling academically and thriving socially prior to the incident that scarred her arms, and Noah is the quintessential bad boy, getting high and sleeping around as he waits to graduate. Forced into regular meetings with one another through the school therapist, they both suddenly find themselves having feelings for someone who’d they never have imagined would fit with them so perfectly. It’s all very familiar, but starting with page one of Echo and Noah’s tale Ms. McGarry rips away every reservation we have concerning a less-than unique premise, gifting us with characters who have physical and emotional scars so painful we take note of nothing outside of our desire to see them navigate their way through their current darkness and find their way to happiness.
Echo should be a troubling character for us in terms of forming a bond with her, being the type of young woman who, should we simply list out some of her most obvious character traits, would frustrate us to no end. She succumbs to any and all authority figures, caving to their needs and wants and placing them above her own, and she allows her friends to push her into a skin that no longer fits the girl she’s become since the night of her scarring without a single audible word of protest. Despite her shortcomings however, our hearts are with her from the beginning, and she’s like a present Ms. McGarry hands us personally to unwrap – our relationship with her poignant and deeply valued as we slowly peel back the trappings hiding her from us chapter by chapter until we finally find the beauty waiting beneath as a reward for our efforts.
Noah is atypically typical, appearing to have all the traits of contemporary high school bad boys in books past, but as with Echo, his entire character resonates with us from the moment we meet him, all the elements we thought we recognized fading away to become a personality that feels distinctly Noah, and one that could never be mistaken for anyone else. His love for his brothers is endearing and heart-wrenching as we watch him struggle to come to terms with what he thinks is best for them and what realistically is best, and we want nothing more than for this tale to take on a sudden paranormal twist wherein the pieces of Noah’s world are suddenly and magically fused back together to give him the life he had before the death of his parents. While our minds might wish for a supernatural intervention of the happily-ever-after variety, the true beauty of this tale lies in its normalcy, and the knowledge that nothing and no one is going to save either Echo or Noah but themselves.
Ms. McGarry truly stuns with Pushing the Limits, creating a pair of individuals who hold us captivated from beginning to end and have our hearts bleeding out onto the pages, combining with the black ink to fuse a piece of us to Echo and Noah forever. Alongside Echo and Noah’s rough journey to building new lives out of the tatters of their old ones is a brief glimpse of the intriguing relationship between Noah’s friends Isaiah and Beth, and Ms. McGarry brilliantly ensures that we’ve seen just enough to have us fixated on when we’ll get their likely equally painful story in all its glorious detail. With this tale, Ms. McGarry has secured herself a place on my list of favorites for the foreseeable future.
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