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Friday, July 27, 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

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 is contemporary YA in its most vulnerable, rawest form.  This is romantic YA at its most passionate, its most genuine.  Pushing the Limits unrelentingly grabs hold of your heart and doesn’t let go until the very end.
Honestly, I didn’t know how I was going to feel about Pushing the Limits when I picked it up.  I have a bit of a history with Books About Issues, which is my way of saying that they aren’t always my particular poison.  Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried.  This is more a Book About People.  Those people happen to have some issues to handle, but the important thing to note is that neither Echo nor Noah want their issues to define them.  Echo has been through such a terrible trauma that she’s repressed the memory, and her hands and arms bear the scars of a horrifying act that she can’t even remember.  Echo is also artistically gifted, whip smart, and stronger than she realizes.  Noah lost his parents in a fire, only to become separated from his two younger brothers due to technicalities in the foster care system.  He’s also a fiercely loyal friend with a heart as big as all outdoors.  While they are thrown together by their shared counselor, it’s not surprising that they’re drawn to one another, even if it takes them a while to notice what’s going on between them.

And what is going on between them is happy-making on so many levels.  Katie McGarry deftly alternates the points of view between Echo and Noah each chapter, and seeing their feelings develop in their own words is simply divine.  Their voices are distinct, matching their personalities exactly as they are depicted.  And they are so dang hot for one another, I swear my book nearly burst into flames so many times.  I particularly enjoyed Noah’s chapters because I love a well-written male POV.  His growth beyond the silent stoner kid with his hair in his eyes delights me, and the way he melts Echo and melts for Echo delights me even more.  He makes it his goal to be the best he can be, not just for her but for himself as well.  

This isn’t to say that I didn’t like Echo as much, because oh me, I am all about the Echo.  Girl has been through more sadness in her few years on this planet than most people see in their entire lives, and she still manages to, you know, keep on living.  I love every moment when she forgets her scars.  I love every time she doesn’t let anyone dictate her friendships.  I love when she realizes that Noah Hutchins, the baddest bad boy in her class, has inspired her to become a stronger, fiercer Echo.  I just really, really hope she catches a break at some point.  I mean, besides getting to make out with Noah.

Pushing the Limits is honest, authentic, and so very hot.  Katie McGarry made me grin, blush, and weep—sometimes all in the same chapter!  This is a must-read for anyone who loves character-driven contemporary YA.

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