“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “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.
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.
Beware of a major Squee Fest !!!
Hauntingly Beautiful – this story will break your heart!
Danny: Before we start, I want to warn everyone that this review is going to be a major Squee Fest! Katie MacGarry’s debut is absolutely phenomenal with everything that one can wish for in a book. Strong, hauntingly beautifully-developed characters, a thrilling and heartbreaking plot- Beautiful writing – everything.
I said once: ” I want a book that breaks my heart constantly, makes me cry and than puts my heart back together!” This is what Pushing The Limits managed.. constantly! I was crying so so so many times – It was touching, it broke my heart, it melted my heart and finally I healed together with Noah and Echo…
Pushy: You’ve hit the nail on the head there, Danny! Everyone knows I’m a softie but I was A WRECK (yes, in all caps!) as I read this book in the airport and then on the plane ride home from BEA. Katie’s characters were so real, so present that I connected with them immediately and became so emotionally tied to them that I felt every swell and nadir of emotion. This is one heck of a ride!
Heather: I hardly ever cry with books unless a little kid dies, but this one had my cold, dark heart thawing out and my dry eyes squirting a few tears while I hid trying to get in some more time to read it. The emotions and situations in this one are so brutally honest and real that it scrapes you raw and you feel every single shred as you heal along with Noah and Echo.
Kristen: What can I say? The girls summed it up perfectly. First of all, I have found myself sucked into the YA Fantasyland, you know, fairies and vampires and werewolves and witches… I loves me some fantasy! But there is this thing called “Contemporary Fiction” (see, I went to BEA, I KNOW this stuff now) which was all I used to read. I kinda forgot that there are these amazing stories set in the now, with real life problems and there isn’t a magical fairy wand on the planet that can fix some of these things. And it was so refreshing to be doused with some reality. I adored this story from beginning to end. *restrains from throwing pixie dust*
Noah and Echo – Echo and Noah
Danny: Let’s start with Echo. Can this name be any more awesome? Echo is broken – so broken that she lost her memory. So broken that it will break your heart. So broken that she needs someone to help her heal. .. I am seriously tearing up just thinking about this sad girl. But, she’s not just sad – she has an inner strength she’s not even aware of and this combination made her just more real. Echo is a character that will easily find a place in your heart.
Heather: Echo was once popular and outgoing, artistic and happy, but now she’s just a shell of a person hiding under clothes and in the shadows from everyone. While it takes a few special people to really bring her back to life, it’s Echo herself that drags herself back from the brink. And witnessing that journey is both gut wrenching and inspirational.
Pushy: Echo’s really something, isn’t she? The reader knows from the start that she’s got some issues, the very first scene in the book is her, with her DYSFUNCTIONAL parental units, meeting her new counselor. And still, I like that her issues didn’t make the sum total of what Echo was. She wasn’t a victim so much as, as you guys said, on a journey. And I knew from the start she was going to make it through. This girl is seriously tough stuff! In the best possible way.
Kristen: Echo was so fun to read! I could really feel all of the little things that made her so unique. It was fun to say goodbye to some of the other one dimensional characters out there in YA land. Between the accident, her relationship with her mom, dad and step-mom, her grieving the loss of her brother, onto this whole new chapter with her therapist and Noah and his crew entering her life, she had a lot on her plate. And it was exciting to see how she was going to go through it all. Just perfect!
Danny: … and Noah?? Holy Freaking Awesome! He was perfection! Perfection in a sense that he combined everything I look for in a character that will stick with me. He was the bad – boy – but only on the outside. Because when we finally glimpse behind the wall he build around himself, we see the real Noah. And… he will break your heart. (I told you, this is a major heartbreak here…)
Heather: *Huge Sigh* Noah–bad boy, heart breaker extraordinaire. While his leather coat wearing, freakin’ hot as hell, nothing but trouble exterior invites nothing but one night stands from the ladies, he has a fierce loyalty to his friends and what family he has left. And once you see past his rough and tumble exterior to why he is like he is, you can’t help but feel for him.
Pushy: Agreed, Noah’s got the classic bad-boy exterior, complete with smoking hot body and smoldering good looks, but it’s his interior that won me over. And I have to say, that it was the emotional arc of his journey that had me sobbing the hardest. I felt for Noah and I don’t EVEN want to get into to how much I wanted to FEEL him *mutters to self about being a dirty old lady*
Kristen: Oh Pushy! STOP! He’s miiiiiine! Ok, not really, my hubs is real and he’s an accountant and is all bad boy in his own way. It’s true though, Noah starts off as this tough kid who picks at Echo, because he likes her, of course. I think Katie nailed this character down. He doesn’t do some of that *coughs* unrealistic stuff that teenage boys do in some of the other books I have read. He’s so real, and even though I’m not a lover of the “bad boy” I could see myself at that age just dying to get him to look my way in the cafeteria. He was intriguing and had so many layers. Even when he messes stuff up it’s because of the best intentions.
Danny: Together Noah and Echo were perfect for each other,those characters will stick with you even after finishing the last page–
Heather: Noah and Echo and both perfect for each other and doomed from the start…
Is healing even possible?
Pushy: Part of what draws the reader in with a story like this is the intensity of the problems these characters have. And it’s a fine line to walk between making Echo and Noah’s problems intense enough to make the action they spur believable and making the problems still something they can over come. But Katie McGarry is clearly an author who not only knows how to walk that line. She OWNED it!
Danny: Pushing The Limits is the story of two characters that had a horrible past and together they find a way back to life and to hope. Narrated both from Noah’s and Echo’s POV we get glimpses into both souls and desperately wish for them to find peace. The plot was raw and intense and there never a minute I could put that book down.
Heather: This is the story of just how broken two people can be, but together, they can somehow find hope and put themselves back together again. If you’re a lover of angst, then this is right up your alley. If it can defrost my heart, than it will probably leave most people sobbing like babies!
Kristen: Heather! You are so right! I’m a big cry-baby, but I had to chill out so I could get through it all. I had to see what would happen and where these two would end up. On top of that…after meeting Katie and hearing how she was going to continue the story but with different characters, I kept trying to guess who was up next! I loved the secondary characters just as much as Noah and Echo and cannot wait to read the next book!
magic rating of awesome!
Danny: Pushing The Limits was a phenomenal debut! It was raw intensive, emotional, heartbreakingly sad and beautiful at the same time. It was touching, emotionally raw and it left me wishing those two will finally find peace. Katie McGarry wrote a masterpiece and look forward seeing a star rise.
Think I exaggerate? No! I don’t!
Pushy: Buy this book! Buy it now and lock yourself away for a day. Believe me when I say you’ll be oh-so-happy you did. You’ve been warned! *wink*
Heather: I had a hard time putting this book down, and I devoured it in one day. Pushing the Limits is an extrememly emotional, well written debut full of angst, love, reality, devastation, and hope. I cannot wait for the next book in this series featuring Beth! I have found a new book to pimp out to all of my friends and colleagues!
Kristen: *cannot contain the squeeeeeeee* Beth is up next! I can’t wait to read about that sassy girl! I completely enjoyed this book and made myself stop at 2am to be able to function the next day. Then the book taunted me to open it while I was supposed to be doing that whole “raising the children” thing. If you love teen drama and are ready to dig through a little pain and suffering for an awesome ending – this is it. Go on and get it! Way to go, Katie!
As we mentioned, Pushing The Limits is Katie’s first novel and she’s got one of those fabled paths to publishing. You know what we mean…snapped up by an agent super fast, whirlwind of selling rights to an AMAZING HOUSE (you all KNOW how much we love HarlequinTeen!) and on the fast track to being the next big thing in Contemporary YA. We’re sure it didn’t feel that way to Katie though, and when we met her at BEA she seemed a little stunned still, as if the reality of her awesomeness was still sinking in. But for whatever reason, she’s retained her super sweet nature and she’s always willing to share advice and her thoughts on writing and publishing. A great example of this is a post she did yesterday at YA Fusion talking about the process she followed in querying Pushing The Limits. You should definitely check it out!
And because we know, like us, once you finish re-reading this book for the second or third time, you’ll be jonesing for the next installment there is light at the end of the tunnel! Beth’s story is up next. Can you say SQUEE!!?!?!?!?!?!?! Yeah, we thought you could!
So, we hope you’ll enjoy Katie’s book as much as we obviously did. If you’ve read it already, come squee along with us in the comments. If you haven’t, let us know if you’re into Contemporary YA or not. You know we love to hear what YOU think!