Review: Pushing the Limits

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PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry was released in the U.S. on July 31, 2013 in hardcover, audio and eBook formats. A paperback edition was released on April 30, 2013. It is currently available to order online in all formats at AMAZON and in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats at BARNES & NOBLE.

Published by Harlequin Teen, the print edition is 416 pages.

PUSHING THE LIMITS is the first book in the author’s series of the same name. The second book in the series, DARE YOU TO, is now available and the third book, CRASH INTO YOU, will be released on November 26, 2013.



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.


PUSHING THE LIMITS is an incredibly captivating, intense and emotional love story that brings together two characters who bear the scars of the tragedies they’ve had to face and are still trying to overcome. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins, this book allows readers to get to know both characters in depth through their own perceptions and from each other’s.

It is a story that delivers realistic characters who have experienced tragedy and loss, who are forced to make difficult decisions and who must decide upon just how they want to let their burdens affect their present and their future. It is a story that is heartbreaking and beautiful. It is a story that is full of raw emotion. And it is a story that will leave its mark on those who read it.

Echo is still in the dark about what happened to her to cause the disfiguring scars on her arms. Scars that changed her from the confident girl she once was to the introverted one she is now. If she could just regain her memories without risking her sanity, maybe she’d be able to get her life back on track. Maybe she could find normal again.

Noah lost everything the night of the fire. His family. His future. Himself. And while he can’t return things to the way they were before, he is determined to do everything in his power to get his brothers back. If he could just find out where they are, maybe he’d be able to put what remains of his family back together. And maybe, just maybe, he could remember what it means to be normal.

Katie McGarry has created a heart-wrenching love story that is beautiful and fragile, romantic and hopeful. She introduces two incredibly sympathetic characters who are damaged and distrusting and appear to be complete opposites, but who, when together, draw strength from one another. She adds tension and suspense to her story by keeping secret events from each character’s past, revealing bits and pieces as the story progresses. And she makes the relationship between them one that isn’t instant but with chemistry that is electric.

Powerful, breathtaking and moving, PUSHING THE LIMITS lives up to its name. It tests the boundaries of love, trust and inner fortitude. It offers the promise that love may be worth the risk. And it gives readers a gripping, emotional roller-coaster of a story that is utterly unforgettable.

Reviewer gives this book…


On a personal note…

I never intended to fall in love with PUSHING THE LIMITS. I only expected to like it. A lot. But I heard it was amazing. The buzz for this book and the anticipation for the next book in the author’s series was insane. Which meant that I was wary. And even though I was excited to read it, I approached with caution.

Well the buzz was not wrong. It was amazing. I loved this book. I read it in a day. And I loved it so much I read the novella and the next book in the series because I couldn’t get enough of the author’s writing and her characters. Which means that now I have to suffer the wait until November until I can read more about Isaiah and Rachel.

This was such a beautiful story. It was also a tough story. I did cry. I did smile. I felt an incredible connection with the characters. I ached for them. I wanted more than anything for them to have as happy an ending as possible. I wanted their lives not to suck.

While contemporary YA may not be my “go to” genre, when the stories are well-written and have depth of both plot and characters and where real-life issues are explored and emotions beyond those relatable to teens are a part of them, I can make that connection. And I made a really strong one with PUSHING THE LIMITS.

I loved getting to know Echo, to learn why she was so damaged, to discover, as she did, just what happened to her. I loved seeing her begin to open up, to trust and to face her past. Her story was incredibly sympathetic but she wasn’t pitiable. With all that she’d had to deal with in her life, she was strong. She was damaged but not destroyed.

And then there was Noah. I don’t think he could have been more perfect. He had a little bit of the bad boy vibe going on, but he was a total knight in shining armor. Actually, I know he couldn’t have been more perfect. If he was, I probably would have thought it a bit too unbelievable. He was the right amount of perfect. His past and present weren’t easy either. But he was honorable and amazing and heroic. Oh, and yes, for those readers that must know, he’s hot.

In books that switch POVs, I am almost always able to pick a favorite. Usually one is written a bit more detailed than another. Usually one character has a bit more depth, is more likable. And usually one gets more attention from the author. Not so in this book. Katie McGarry did a brilliant job of developing both characters, both points of views.

Which means that I’m not sure whose perspective I loved reading from more – Echo’s or Noah’s. Because while I may love Noah a little bit more for what he did for Echo and for his brothers and friends, seeing him through her eyes, not just through his own, is what enabled me to see just how amazing he is.

PUSHING THE LIMITS is one of those books that goes so far beyond being an engaging read. Even amazing doesn’t quite seem an adequate word to describe it. As a reader I was invested in this story and in its characters. Their stories were ones I wanted to know more about. Their personalities were ones I found incredibly likable. And it was a book that took me all over the emotional map – happy, sad, anxious, heartbroken, hopeful.

And it all started right from Echo’s very first words – “My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has…well…issues. How do you think I’m doing?”

Favorite passage…

There are so many amazing passages in this book. Many of them absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful. But this short passage with a quote from Noah was my absolute favorite.

“Being with you feels good. Touching you—” he tucked a curl behind my ear “—feels good. I have never wanted anyone like I want you. There’s nothing you can do wrong when just breathing makes everything right.”

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