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Pushing the Limits #1

Pushing the Limits

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"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...

392 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2012

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About the author

Katie McGarry

36 books12.8k followers
KATIE MCGARRY is an award winning and critically acclaimed novelist of the Witches of the Island series (A Wicked and Beautiful Garden), the Pushing the Limits, Thunder Road, and Only a Breath Apart series and the standalone novel, Say You’ll Remember Me. Katie is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is currently living out her own love story with her husband, three children, her affectionate dog, Rachel, and her very needy cats.

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49,887 (41%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,907 reviews
Profile Image for Sophia..
54 reviews2,545 followers
December 12, 2012

I stopped at page 16. 16!

What he says:
"Her blue cotton shirt dipped below her beige tank."

What I say:

What she says:
“Oh, God,” I moaned. She thought I was doing “it” with him.

What I say:

What he says:
"Her silky red hair had glimmered in the moonlight."

What I say:

What she says:
"Wow. I thought I was the only person at this school faking every moment."

What I say:

What he says:
"I loved the sound of her sweet voice. Part angel, part music."

What I say:

What he says:
"Damn, she smelled like cinnamon and sugar fresh out of the oven."

What I say:

So yeah. I can't. I just can't.
Profile Image for Marie.
504 reviews391 followers
April 30, 2014
“Fuck me and the rest of the world, I was in love.”
— Pushing the Limits, Katie McGarry

And I'm in love to,




I have officially read this only about, OH, a MILLION times.

How do you get sick of a book that draws you in from the first page every single time. There's so many different views of this book it's like reading a new story each and every time I read it.

'His lips curved into a sexy smile and I became lost in him. “I love you, Echo Emerson.”
I whispered the words as he brought his lips to mine. “Forever.”'

This book is just, there's no words.

It's so friggin awesome, I am going to have to worship it.

No-one can possibly understand how obsessed I am with this whole story!

I have been waiting to read this for months, and boy was it worth the wait.

"“I’M BUYING YOU A COAT.” And I meant it. I opened the car door and slung my leather jacket around her shoulders. “It’s February. Why don’t you ever have a damn jacket on?”
Echo slid her arms through my coat, closing her eyes as she inhaled. When she finally opened them, she fluttered her eyelashes, giving me a look of pure seduction. “Maybe I like wearing yours instead.”
I swallowed. I had plans, and those plans did not involve kissing her against my car. Dammit, she was going to kill me. “Congratulations, it’s yours.”
Her laughter warmed me in ways a jacket couldn’t. “Are you going to be a big pushover now?”
Appeared so. I entwined my fingers with Echo’s and walked her across the empty street, toward the fountain. Red and pink lights lit up the water trickling from the three flowered tiers.
“It’s beautiful.” Echo stared at the fountain, her eyes darting to the different flowers etched in the metal. No, she was beautiful.

Noah is just, AHHHH The things I would do to him
He is just so damn attractive. He may as well put a collar and lead on me because I would be his 'pet' anyday!

Echo is just amazing. Sarcastic, gorgeous and feisty. She and me were besties from the first sentence.
Amazing heroin.
People would constantly be asking her if she was 'ok', and instead of lying and saying 'fine' like the other millions of people out there she says this:

“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?”

I laughed and I knew I was going to love every minute of this book.

I love the way the author split Noah and Echo's POV's. They were perfectly timed.
So well written and addictive.
Theres so much more I could say about this book, but right now I'm like a drug addict and this book is my crack. I've spent too long writing this and now I'm shaking to get back and quite possibly read it all over again.
I know it's only come out today but damn I'd have to advise you to drop whatever it is your reading and start with this because my friggin god you will not be able to PUT IT DOWN.

The story that lies in between the covers are sad, emotional, lovely, sweet, romantic and breathtakingly heartwarming.

My heart aches and grieves for both Noah and Echo, whom have lived such hard and sad lives and have had to grow up so fast and make descisions people as young as themselves shouldn't have to make. Hell their my age and I don't know what I would have done in their positions.

They are so admirable and anyone would be lucky to have them as role models. Their strong, loyal, honest and good people who just needed guidance and Mrs Collins was there supporting them the whole way through she never gave up.

My god, I loved this. I can't tell you how much I love this.

There's not one bad point I can think of. And that NEVER happens. Not to me. I'm so fussy and will pick over the littlest things. But this is the exception. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Un-freakin-believable- that's the first word that came to mind when I finished this. This book blew me away and this has definitely barged its way into my top 10. This book is worth 5 big fat stars and I am now going to go and make it known to everyone about how much they should read it.

Here's some More of my favorite parts;

My song ended, my finger stopped tapping the beat, and we ceased swaying from side to side. She held perfectly still, keeping her hand in mine, her head resting on my shoulder. I nuzzled into the warmth of her silky curls, tightening my hold on her. Echo was becoming essential, like air.

She opened her mouth, her tongue seductively touching mine, almost bringing me to my knees. Flames licked through me as our kiss deepened. Her hands massaged my scalp and neck, only stoking the heat of the fire.

“Because,” I said as I felt the familiar twisting in my stomach. “You saw me lose it. You saw me almost go insane.”
The muscles in his shoulders visibly tensed. “I watched you battle against the worst memory of your life and I watched you win. Make no mistake, Echo. I battled right beside you. You need to find some trust in me … in us.”
Noah inhaled and slowly let the air out. His stance softened and so did his voice. “If you’re scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don’t walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here’s the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that, too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I’ll try.”
I stared at him and he stared at me. 

It doesn’t get better,” I said. “The pain. The wounds scab over and you don’t always feel like a knife is slashing through you. But when you least expect it, the pain flashes to remind you you’ll never be the same.”

This book is just so intensely real.

I could just read this over and over and over again.
Profile Image for Blacky *Romance Addict*.
464 reviews6,252 followers
March 25, 2015

Noah <3

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

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This was such a sweet and heartbreaking story, with both MCs having some serious problems, but I still loved it <3
I am not a fan of angst and drama, and there is both here, but not too much, so I don't think it'll be a problem for anyone else :DD

A few things you need to know:

1. What the book is about

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A bad boy and a troubled girl are forced to work together to solve their problems, and in the meantime they manage to fall in love <3
Echo is trying to remember a repressed memory from the night she almost died, and Noah is doing whatever he can to get custody of his brothers.
I won't say more cause you just have to read to find out :)
Anyway, there are both POVs in this book, and I really love that :))
I'll talk more about Noah and Echo in their sections :)

2. Something about Echo

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She has terrible scars on her arms, and doesn't remember how she got them. She isn't doing well and has to go to counseling with her family.
She is an outcast in school ever since the "incident", her friends have given up on her and she isn't the popular one with a hot boyfriend anymore.
She is desperate to find out what happened to her that night, and unwillingly makes a deal with Noah, a student she's been tutoring, to get both their files from the school counselor.

3. Something about Noah

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He is very mature for his age, but it isn't surprising considering everything that's happened to him.
After the death of his parents, he got into foster care and of course, it didn't go well. Now he's a bad boy with a bad reputation, but all he really wants is to get his brothers in his custody the moment he turns 18.
The best way to do that is to excel in school, so he starts the tutoring lessons with Echo.

4. Noah and Echo

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I love them together <3
They are perfect for one another, and I loved every scene they had <3
Anyway, Echo's remembering was really, REALLY tough to read, and I am so glad Noah was there to support her most of the way <3
Noah and his family - I knew how it would end, and it's the way it's supposed to be (although a bit idyllic but oh well :D).
Noah gave me butterflies like he did to Echo, he's sweet and swoony even though he's a bad boy :D
Loved the scene when he meets her father and takes her to his place <3

5. It made me cry

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There were a few very sad scenes, but one hit me most, and it didn't have anything to do with Noah/Echo.
It was about Noah and his little brothers, the scene when
I actually had to take a break to compose myself and get rid of the tears XD and when I started reading the scene again, I started crying again so I had to compose again LMAO :D
Yes I'm a weeper, but mostly I just get misty-eyed, this was full-on crying! Gah. Anyway. I think that scene is my favorite from the book :)))

6. No sex in this one, not even a fade-out :D

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And you know what? It didn't bother me AT ALL :)
In fact, it would probably be icky for me to read about teenagers having sex ahahahahah so yeah, the glances, the kisses, the touches, I swooned at that and didn't even need the sex :DDDD

And so, this is a great book, I really enjoyed it, and I can't wait to read more from this series :)))

Profile Image for "That's All" Ash.
158 reviews1,926 followers
December 10, 2013
Holy Sh—
Oh, my---
What the---
For the love of---
Sweet baby---

MOTHERFUCKER! This book was fabulous/great/wow/fan♦freaking♦tastic!

*deep breath*

I would just like to go on the record and THANK Katie McGarry for creating Noah Hutchins. And for creating a book that held me captive until the wee hours of the morning. Holy SHIT! Your book’s good, ma’am.

So without further ado… Allow me to introduce you to “Pushing the Limits”… ;)

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♦ This is a story about a boy with a past in ashes who fell in love with a girl whose memory was consumed by what she couldn’t remember. ♦

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Young girl, tragically scarred, attempts to return to her normal life, only to find out her normal life doesn’t want her back.

With nothing but stained-glass memories, the only thing Echo knows is that her mother tried to kill her two years ago. Her mother was beautiful, and had every talent known to a paintbrush.

Just like Echo.

But Echo doesn’t remember that night two years ago. She doesn’t remember her mother trying to kill her, and the last time she tried to recall those memories; she landed in the hospital due to mental trauma for trying to force her mind to bring up something it was trying desperately to repress.

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Her dad knows what happened.
Her step-mother knows what happened.
Even Echo’s highschool counselor knows what happened.

But no one’s fessing up. Everyone wants Echo to remember on her own.

So without those memories, Echo sticks to the facts:

• Her mother did try to kill her, and she has the physical scars to prove it.
• She’s now the school freakshow.
• Her father cheated on her mother with Echo’s baby-sitter.
• Her best friend of an older brother is dead.
• And she’s falling fast and hard for someone who she should stay the hell away from.


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This was Noah Hutchins. The Noah Hutchins that refused steady relationships or even dating. The Noah Hutchins that only wanted one-night stands. A stoner. My opposite. And right now, everything I wanted.

His past went up in flames. Literally. And it took his parents along with it, leaving him with nothing but once-a-month visitation rights to his younger brothers.

And Noah would give anything to have his brothers back.

But when you’re a teenager thrown into the foster system… it’s hard to live life on the straight and narrow.

It doesn’t matter that he was once at the top of his class. It doesn’t matter that he was an MVP on the basketball team. It doesn’t matter that at one time in his life, smiling was once just a reflex kind of thing.

All he has now are girls who only seem to remember his name when they’re moaning it; a family who consists of two friends he would do anything for; an annoying high school counselor who for some unknown fucking reason, believes in him; two younger brothers with smiles that he would literally move heaven and hell for; and…

An irritatingly gorgeous red-head tutor who has scars on the outside that perfectly match the ones he carries on the inside.

And despite everything, Noah can’t help falling in love with her.

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Soon the pen she held in her hand drummed in time with her foot. I understood her rhythm. That feeling of everything inside twisting to the point that if you didn’t find a release you’d explode. I craved to grant her peace.

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I wanted to blow her mind with every touch and every kiss so her very thought always came back to me. I would never touch anyone else again without thinking about her.

But sometimes…

No matter how hard you try to fix someone;
No matter how hard you fight their demons;
No matter how hard you guard their sleep;

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You can’t.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,955 followers
July 31, 2012
Normal. She wanted normal and so did I.

If I could summarize this book with one (okay, technically two) sentence, that would be the one. Nothing else needs to be said. You can figure out from one simple sentence that this is a book about two people who have lost everything and are trying to figure out how to get normalcy back in their lives.

3.25 stars. If I was judging Pushing the Limits solely based on the journey of the characters and how they struggled to reach their own personal victories, I would have gone 4 stars on the book. This was a great story. I like to see characters with depth and grit. It's always fascinating to watch people push past their inner demons and come out on the other side to start their healing process. Both Noah and Echo were inspirational characters who learned not only how to work on themselves, but also learned how to encourage each other to trust again.

What lost me (just a little) was the execution.
There were several trigger words and generalizations which had me cringing :

1. The over-use of nicknames, such as baby, siren, goddess, nymph, etc., as well as the always-sure-to-cause-an-eye-roll note of likening another person's presence to a drug. As well, the mention of Echo smelling like cinnamon was excessive after about the third time. She smells like a bakery. I got it.

2. Stating that foster kids and kids from bad homes lay low for a reason (this is a stereotype that isn't always true - I've known kids from foster homes and bad homes who were popular and good students). Statements like this always seem to make me want to cue the dramatic music in my head because these appear to be written for the purpose of trying to invoke a feeling which isn't always necessary.

3. Assuming that someone is on a bad path because they smoke weed or drink socially, and therefore that person needs to expel this from their life immediately, otherwise their entire future is in danger. Well crap...I feel bad for more than 50% of today's teens then. They're all screwed. It's a wonder I have such a productive life today, being a former weed smoker and social drinker.

4. Using the word "forever" to describe a fledgling relationship. Did Judy Blume teach us nothing? This is HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, some people meet their spouses in high school... but I hate when books want to predict futures which aren't necessarily predictable. Anything can happen after high school. We don't need to tie these kids down beyond possibly continuing the relationship into college. Not unless you're going to do a Perfect Chemistry epilogue where it shows them married years down the line (and believe me, I could live without those).

What really did shine about this book :

1. The characters. Both Echo and Noah were smart and cautious about many things. Echo was a great example of showing how it's okay not to have sex if you're not ready. Noah was a great example of how a teenage guy can be horny and hormonal and wanting to get laid, yet still respectful of a girl's wishes if he cares about her. His honesty was refreshing. He didn't stop wanting sex, even though he let Echo have her space when she needed it.
Her beautiful breasts were right there for me to see, but I wanted to do more than observe, I wanted to...

2. As mentioned earlier, the story. Other than it being a little on the long side and having a few moments I could have lived without, I enjoyed the read. The story did have a few similarities to Perfect Chemistry but wasn't an exact mirror either, so I wasn't bothered by it. The problems of the main characters in Pushing were not gang related, yet the problems were still just as emotional and tough as what Alex and Brittany had to go through in PC.

Overall, I think this would be a good read for people who are huge fans of love conquering the greatest of problems.
"I watched you battle against the worst memory of your life and I watched you win. Make no mistake, Echo. I battled right beside you."

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
August 11, 2012

When I rate a book three stars, it usually means indifference, that the book was neither especially good or bad. That I probably won't even remember it in a few days time. With Pushing the Limits that is not the case, it's more that I feel the positives and negatives equally balance each other out and the overall book falls somewhere in the middle of the rating scale because of it. I will say, though, the issues that I felt sure I'd have with it were not the reason I gave it such an average rating.

I approached this young adult romance with the caution I always approach young adult romance novels with. Plus an extra shot of it because of the bad boy/good girl cliche we are promised. As far as these types of cliched stories go, I'd say Pushing the Limits is one of the best and is far better than those of Simone Elkeles. I personally think McGarry has written a great debut and the novel would have fully achieved excellence had she not played in the safe zone and used the same old format and character types. Everything was a little too predictable. However, I see enough promise here to want to try her next novel - Dare You To - and see if Beth's story can avoid the same mistakes (based on her character, I think it might).

So... bad boys. Just a few years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated to say that I love a bad boy. The kind of man who promises a wild adventure with his smile, and exciting sexcapades with a raise of his eyebrow. But the definition of this sexy creature has changed, or perhaps it was always the same and I just didn't notice it as much... but either way, a "bad boy" is now someone like Patch Cipriano from Hush, Hush and others like him, men or boys who push women around, attempt to control them, become violent when they don't get their own way. Noah Hutchins is nothing like that. Noah is what I mean when I say "bad boy", he is fun and likes to break a few rules, but he always respects Echo's wishes, he is kind to her and - you won't believe it - actually leaves her alone when she metaphorically gives him the finger.

To get down to the real problem, it is quite simply: the angst. McGarry is a good enough author to realise that she needs to give her characters issues and imperfections (especially if they're going to be of the cliche variety). But I didn't think the execution of either character dealing with their problems was done well, it felt a bit messy, a lot melodramatic, and it was all wrapped up in what I felt was a rather unsatisfactory way. I also think the sizzling chemistry quickly gave way to the usual romantic natterings of the deeply forever in luuurrrve. Don't get me wrong, I wanted Echo and Noah to be together right up to the last minute, but I would have preferred a little less "I love you more than anything in the world, baby". There's only so many times calling someone "baby" is cute.

In the end, this book had two characters with amazing chemistry who I genuinely cared about. They were flawed and interesting, but there was too much doom, gloom and angsting going on. Some parts were sad until I passed through the sadness and into eye-rolling territory. I feel conflicted about the novel as a whole, but I do believe in the author's potential. Let's see where she goes from here.
Profile Image for peachygirl.
267 reviews644 followers
January 30, 2021
This is the story of a former popular girl and a fallen golden boy finding each other in their quest for different lives and freedom, after they've lost everything that mattered.
Echo Emerson has lost her dad to her nanny turned step-mother, her mum to bipolar disorder, her brother to the Marines and her friends and social life to one terrible night that gave her deep physical and psychological scars. She's erased the night from her memory to the point where flashes of those painful hours make her question her sanity.
I admit, I'm not really generous with sympathy for angst-ridden teens, but Echo's story shook me. She was dealt with so many consequent shitty cards, I didn't know which one to feel bad for. For all his claims of love for his daughter, Echo's dad could have been there for her better instead of hiding behind his guilt and his young wife's pregnant tummy. Not touching the topic of the human wrecking ball that is Echo's mom. And some of her 'friends' woke my inner bitch up with the urge to slap them. Repeatedly. Everything was made doubly worse by Echo's authority issues, as she put it and her ridiculous people pleasing tendencies.
Noah Hutchins has lost his parents in a fire accident, his brothers to the foster care system and himself to the need for making his family whole again. His distrust of adults was understandable but his insta connection to Echo made no sense to me, given his guarded nature. There was attraction in the beginning, yes. To some extent, I'd even say they were kindred spirits. But there was absolutely no chemistry. Nada. The romance scenes seemed forced and mechanical. They would have been better off as friends. But the plot would have taken a hit, so I'm gonna let that one go. Some of the scenes involving Noah's interaction with his brothers were extremely moving. And I really liked Mrs.Collins. She was the only decent adult in this book.
I'd recommend this book for YA fans, but not if you're looking for an epic romance or a swoon-worthy love story. I'm looking forward to read Isaiah's story though. Biker chick Beth was an absolute delight!
Profile Image for Aestas Book Blog.
1,059 reviews74.8k followers
August 8, 2012
4.5 stars

A heart-wrenching YA book about two broken teens struggling to put the shattered pieces of their lives back together and finding love along the way.

“Her shoulders never shook. No tears streamed down her face. The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.”

From the first line of this book, I was drawn right into Echo’s world. With a mentally ill mother, an overly controlling father, and her beloved older brother dead, Echo’s life is far from perfect. Its stifling. And you can totally feel it. The story just grabs at your heart strings.

Noah was an amazing character. He’s a bad boy, but only on the outside. He seems to be that way because that’s what everyone in his life labels him as. A stoner, one-night-stand player, under achiever… thats how the world sees him. But no one sees what led him to become this way. To the depths of his pain and the tragedy of the events in his life.

“ …I could tell he was looking at me. The stubble on his face moved as he smiled. Noah had muscles, looks, and trouble stalking him. Somehow he made jeans and a t-shirt look dangerous. Not that I was into girl-using stoners. Yet, I took another peek at him while sipping my drink.”

He really stole my heart – like all the way! His parents died in an accident a few years back and he and his little brothers were put into the foster system and separated and now he is fighting to get them out of the system and to put whats left of his family back together. Every SINGLE one of his scenes with his little brothers made my cry (a lot) and just made my heart ache with wanting them to be happy.

Both Noah and Echo are intensely angry and miserable in their lives, honestly it was hard to say which one made my heart break more at times. This book is so well written that you understand their frustrations and anger at the systems and rules which are screwing up their lives as though they were your own.

The book is told in alternating POVs with serves to show how different the worlds they come from are. The romantic relationship in this book builds slowly. Its not an undeniable- love-at-first-sight-instant-relationship kind of book. The personal journeys of the characters are the main focus of the storyline although they do end up together Both of them have been betrayed by life, and watching them learn to trust each other was really sweet.

“If you’re scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don’t walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here’s the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I’ll try.”

The issues this book deals with are very serious. Abuse. Neglect. Truth. Lies. Love. Healing. The intensity of the bond between siblings. There is nothing lighthearted about this book. Its deeply, gut-wrenchingly emotional. As I was reading, I’d literally have to take mini breathers to calm my heart between some of the scenes.

”Tell me you chose me, Echo.”…
“I chose you.”…
“You will never regret it. I promise.”

I think fans of Slammed might like this book. It’s by no means the same storyline, but it shares a similar feeling. Although its more 'tame'… very strongly YA.

There were a few things that bugged me a little about the book. Echo’s reliance on her ‘popular’ friends at school and her need for their approval didn’t really sit right with me… but at the same time, I guess it was an understandable feeling for someone in high school. I just wish it hadn’t been so important to her…. And I also would have wished for an epilogue. The book has a happy-for-now ending (and a sequel featuring some of the secondary characters on the way) but after all the heart ache in the book, I still would have liked a glimpse maybe 5 years into the future so see how things had worked out for them.

All in all though, I really loved this read… if you are looking for a new YA book, this is it!

How I see Noah and Echo:

For more of my reviews, visit Aestas Book Blog

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Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
September 3, 2012
When try­ing to find a way to describe this book – I set­tled on this: Push­ing The Lim­its is the clos­est I’ve ever got­ten to read­ing a Machetta book.

For any­one famil­iar with me or Machetta – that is the high­est praise I give.

Very rarely does a book make me laugh and cry at all – let alone mul­ti­ple times. But that’s what this book did. And really, what the hell kind of badass reviewer am I when I’m brought to snivel­ing, snotty tears by a book?

Noah and Echo don’t talk at school. Noah is the atyp­i­cal bad boy and Echo is the for­mer Teen Queen on the verge of reclaim­ing her for­mer glory. But Noah and Echo have a lot more in com­mon than they real­ize. They’re both bro­ken. This book is told through both of their view points as they start ther­apy and their lives start to unravel and they get pushed closer and closer together by their circumstances.

What I love is that there are three real­i­ties in this book. McGarry takes into account that there is Noah’s truth, Echo’s truth and then there’s this whole other crea­ture we’ll call What Is Actu­ally Hap­pen­ing. I haven’t seen some­one show flawed nar­ra­tion this well in a long time. What McGarry cap­tured per­fectly is that dis­con­nect while keep­ing me plugged in an sympathetic.


Noah is fight­ing for cus­tody of his younger broth­ers. When his par­ents died, he and his sib­lings were sep­a­rated. Noah was placed in a series of very bad and neg­li­gent homes while his broth­ers were placed with a cus­tody fam­ily who restrict his access to his sib­lings and are try­ing to adopt them.

Echo’s father and his new wife (Echo’s old babysit­ter) have a very rocky, unhealthy rela­tion­ship. He is con­trol­ling, the new wife is preg­nant and Echo is des­per­ate to try and make con­tact with her mother (who has been cut off from con­tact by Echo’s father).

At least – that is how it looks at the begin­ning. And it’s very easy to think that these adults in Echo and Noah’s lives are hor­ri­ble. But whilst Echo and Noah con­tinue to see them that way for awhile, and whilst I as the reader remained com­pletely empa­thetic as to why Noah and Echo saw them that way, it becomes clear that the sit­u­a­tion is not as cut and dry as that.

By the cli­max of both Echo and Noah’s sto­ries I was weep­ing uncon­trol­lably. I still cry when I think about those two parts of the book. McGarry’s writ­ing is pow­er­ful, emo­tive. Her char­ac­ter voices for both Noah and Echo were very well done – reflect­ing on their dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties and char­ac­ter­is­tics. The plot con­tained lit­tle action and was largely car­ried by the myr­iad of rela­tion­ships and the mys­tery of Echo’s past – so fans of more fast paced, active nov­els may want to steer clear.

Mrs Collins, their ther­a­pist, plays an almost omnipo­tent, god­like char­ac­ter in the novel and brought a fresh, lov­able addi­tion. She was one of my favourites.

Over all, I think most read­ers are going to love this one. One of the absolute best books of 2012!
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,571 reviews33.9k followers
June 25, 2012
This is one of those times when I feel like I'm reading a totally different book than everyone else is. This just isn't my kind of realistic fiction, my kind of romance, or my kind of boy. Meh.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
July 22, 2012
It's no secret that this book has been getting insane reviews. Being the persistent black sheep that I am, I was incredibly wary of the hype it was garnering, certain that it would fail to impress me. Oh boy. Oh freaking boy!! Was I ever wrong. I loved this so hard!

Echo and Noah… Echo. Noah. Nocho?

Echo has been through an extremely distressing, life altering ordeal because of which she's suffering post-traumatic stress, with the worst side effect being memory loss. She doesn't remember what happened. All she has are the scars. From popular to outsider, Echo's troubled state-of-mind is harsh and unstable. One of the best character development I've read, she made me a part of her. With only the span of a few pages, she had me immersed in her world, in her heart and soul. Every layer of her being is gradually being laid out for us to become equally mesmerized and perplexed by. Her scars, her babysitter-turned-stepmother, her dead brother, along with her PTSD, she has the world on her shoulders and I was right there alongside her, sharing the weight.

With an equally burdened soul, Noah only wants two things: Jacob, and Tyler. After his parents died in a fire, the three brothers have been in the foster system and Noah wants nothing more than his family back together. The emotions in his perspective begin from our very first glance into his melancholy life. His relationship with his brothers brought tears to my eyes, pulling me in wholeheartedly. He may be tortured and angry - the perfect bad boy image -, yet, underneath his tough exterior he's a loving, caring person who would move heaven and earth for those boys, and, eventually, for Echo. This is a wonderful example of a perfectly woven dual perspective. Both characters are highly vivid, evoking powerful emotions that truly connect the reader to each character. Sketching them one page at a time.

Romantic. Passionate. Frustrating. Filled to the brink with chemistry. The love story in Pushing the Limits is raw. This is true love at its purest form, with sacrifices and compromises, incredible obstacles, and learning to trust without holding back. Like true love, it's not easy, and it's not always painless. We're dealing with two damaged individuals who need to find themselves before they let themselves find each other. Covering a lot more ground than the love story itself, we get intense, emotional ups and downs that just about gave me heart palpitations. While reading, I quickly lost myself in this incredibly enchanting story, experiencing a multitude of complex emotions. By the time I put this book down, I had a heavy heart and a set smile.

Combining love and loss, friendship and family, the unfairnesses of life and the determination to overcome them, Pushing the Limits is a book that is not only to be read, but cherished. This is one gem that shines!

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
August 5, 2012
2.5 stars

Part way through Pushing The Limits, I put down my kindle and thought: Am I (gasp) too old crotchety and cynical for this? I wanted to like this book, but ultimately I just ended up feeling like I’d been caught in a stampede of drama llamas.

Contemporary YA is probably my favourite genre. And I like books that challenge me emotionally. But while I had no real problem with Noah and Echo’s respective Issues-with-a-capital”I”, something about this just felt off to me. It didn’t feel sincere, and therefore it didn’t resonate with me.

Don’t get me wrong – McGarry’s characters have valid, realistic obstacles and conflicts to contend with. It was just something about the execution that didn’t work for me. It felt too overwrought, too obvious, too overwhelmingly angsty for me to really engage with the story. The treatment of several of the (abundant) issues fell flat for me – it read more like an grab for an emotional reaction than a really nuanced discussion of serious topics like mental illness and abuse.

On a scale of Elkeles (Chain Reaction) to Echols (Going Too Far), Pushing The Limits falls somewhere in the middle for me. There’s probably a time when I would have adored this book, and I can honestly see why others love it, but it was a problematic book for me on a few levels. The lack of subtlety for one (which is probably just a personal taste thing), and the reliance on over-used clichés for another. I feel like I’ve met all of these characters before, I’ve heard the same bad-boy meets former popular girl angst too many times before.

(Also, Noah’s repeated use of expressions like “siren”, “nymph” and “seductress” produced more snort-laughs than swoons from me. For example:"A ghost of that siren smile graced her lips as she tilted her head closer to mine, creating the undeniable pull of the sailor lost at sea to the beautiful goddess calling him home." If that quote just made you melt, go read this book immediately. However if, like me, you just stifled a pterodactyl-like screech of hysteria, this book might not really set your loins on fire. )

Definitely recommended for fans of Perfect Chemistry. Just not really my thing, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,807 reviews32.3k followers
April 20, 2015
5 Stars!

**RE-READ on Audible! Loved it just as much the second time around!

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This was not your normal romance story... In fact, normal is one of the last words you would use to describe Noah, Echo or their relationship. Echo was such a strong character. She has been through so much heartache. Not only has she lost her brother Aires, the one person who she felt loved her unconditionally, but she has had a major trauma that she has not even fully discovered. It has destroyed a lot of things important to her; her reputation, friends, art etc. Noah hasn't had it easy either. After losing both parents in a fire, he is in foster care separated from his two little brothers. He may be a sexy, tough, bad boy but there is a side of him that you will fall for! He is loving, loyal, and obviously a family centered guy. I adored him! Noah and Echo though both damaged, develop a beautiful but difficult relationship.

Her eyes met mine again. "So what does this mean for us?" I lowered my forehead to hers "it means your mine."

Seriously loved Noah!

Echo and Noah's journey was full of heartache, healing, and most importantly acceptance. Their counselor Mrs Collins was great. She truly cared about the both of them and went above and beyond to help them. I have to say I really hated Echo's mom her dad could be selfish at times, and very controlling, but I think he really did love Echo and want what was best for her. Now the whole Ashley situation was something else... Another character I lothed was Grace. What. A. Bitch! Just saying... Worst friend ever! Lila on the other hand was a wonderful best friend. She was supportive of Echo and didn't turn her back on her. I also loved Isaiah, him fixing Aires car was great and he was like family to Noah. Beth I didn't care for at first but she really grew on me! I especially loved the relationship between Noah and his brothers. I couldn't get through a scene with those three without crying. It was bittersweet what happens with them at the end but I think Noah realized it worked out for the best.

There were many points in this book I ended up in tears. I couldn't help myself. The story touched me. It also had funny parts too. I wanted to savor this book and make it last, but that seemed impossible because I couldn't put it down! It was a truly beautiful story of pain, love, heartache, discovery, understanding and acceptance. If you haven't read this book you are missing out!!!

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Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,851 reviews846 followers
July 11, 2017

I ADORED this story!

Seventeen year-old Echo Emerson used to be part of the popular crowd. Two years ago things changed. Her parents divorced, her babysitter became her step-mother, and her older brother Aires died in combat. But this is not the event that changed everything for Echo. Two years ago, an event she can't remember resulted in her waking up in the hospital two-days later, with injuries up and down both her arms. Injuries that left her with ugly scars, and a restraining order in place against her mother. Because of the "event" Echo has been mandated by the State to attend therapy sessions. She has just been assigned a new therapist, one that she shares with Noah Hutchins, resident bad-boy with a reputation of one-night-stands.

Noah Hutchins has his own set of problems. Two and half years ago, he was on the honor-roll, competed in sports, and had the perfect family. Two loving parents and two-younger brothers. This was before his parents were killed in a house fire. Now Noah is separated from his little brothers. He's in one foster home, while they are in another. Noah's dream is to get his brothers back and reunite what's left of his family. He's had a string of bad luck with the homes he's been placed in. This is why he is now in court mandated therapy sessions, and on limited visitation with his younger brothers.

Echo and Noah's worlds collide when Echo is assigned to tutor Noah. These two don't immediately hit it off. At first they really don't care for each other but a common goal presents itself, and they unite. Noah and Echo didn't realize they had so much in common. What follows, is a common bond over their tragedies and a growing attraction! I was just gaga over this romance! There is heat and tension but also understanding and empathy. Noah and Echo start to truly care for one another. There were so many scenes of swoon! Weak-in-the-knees swoon! You know me, I have to share a little of at least one! Here you go:

* "Keep it up Echo. I'm all about foreplay." She laughed so loudly, she slapped a hand over her mouth, yet the giggles escaped. "You are so full of yourself. You think because girls swoon over you and let you into their pants on the first try that I'll follow suit. Think again. Besides, I have your number now. Every time you try to look all dark and dangerous, I'll picture you wearing a pink striped polo, collar up, and a pair of pleated chinos." No way. I stalked over to Echo, feeling like a tiger after its prey. She backed up against the wall, but I kept up my approach. I pressed against her, feeling each sensual curve. I wanted to touch every inch of her body. Her sweet smell intoxicated me. Her eyes kept her laughter, but her smile faded as she bit her lower lip. Damn, did she have any idea what she was doing? For a girl hell-bent on keeping me away, she sure did everything to turn me on.

There is a mystery behind Echo's injuries that is gradually revealed to her. What we find out is so heartbreaking and INFURIATING at the same time. BE WARNED, you are going to HATE Echo's parents and the self-centered step-mother, Ashley!! The father constantly put Ashley before Echo, even when she desperately needed him! I was overjoyed when Echo started standing up to her father and told him things he needed to hear! Don't even get me started on the mother. Still, I think the parents got off way too easy in my opinion! Trust me, you are going to shake a fist or two while reading this story because of them! Ms. McGarry did an excellent job writing these awful people.

Noah and his little brothers touched my heart! What they lost and its consequences was heart-wrenching. Noah loves his brothers. He yearns to give them the security his family once had. This is so difficult for someone his age. You can't help but empathize with his feelings of helplessness.

I must congratulate Katie McGarry on her wonderful ability to make me care so much for these characters. It's so important to me that I connect with the main characters in a story, and she really made that happen. I highly recommend this story! I thought it was an amazing debut for Ms. McGarry, and I'll be reading anything else she decides to write!

*Quote is taken from uncorrected ARC.

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for allowing me to read this amazing story!
Profile Image for Wendy Higgins.
Author 22 books7,949 followers
September 13, 2012
Oh my great googly-moogly. Either I'm really hormonal, or that book just made me cry a whole lot--the good kind of crying that can only happen when you're invested in the characters and you're feeling what they're feeling.
So. Flippin. Good.
You need to read this book. Yes, you. If you love romance, and intensity, and emotional, high stakes, this is for you.
Oh, and Noah? I love you.
Profile Image for Alexis *Reality Bites*.
757 reviews3,659 followers
May 5, 2014
Spoiler Free Review
5 STARS out of 5
Genre: YA-Mature Contemporary Romance

THIS IS .31CENTS on Amazon U.S. 5-5-14 If you have not read this book I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! buy link: http://amzn.com/B00B0A5Y78

Pushing the Limits was an appropriate name for this book and if i could sum up my feelings in one word it would be BREAKTHROUGH. Which is what i waited for the whole book. A breakthrough the act of finally overcoming or reaching an achievement by penetrating a wall/enemy that is restricting you from getting any progress. That wall...that enemy is what Echo and Noah faced on a daily bases.

Echo's wall was her memory
Noah's enemy was the system

"So Echo's sophomore year, she's the star of the school, right? She's on the dance team, advanced classes, honor roll, art guru, Miss popularity, and she's got Luke Manning feeling her up between classes. One month before school lets out- she disappears." Beth's eyes widened and she spread her fingers out like a magician doing a trick. This was not where i thought this story would go. Isaiah watched my reaction and nodded. "Poof."
"Gone," added Beth
"Vanished," -Isaiah
"Lost." -Beth
"Evaporated. -Isaiah
"Gone," repeated Beth

Echo Emerson is now the shell of her old self. After her sudden absence at the end of her sophomore year Echo was never the same. Of course the rumor mill takes over and becomes out of control by the time she starts Junior year. However the truth is only known by a few. And unfortunately Echo is not one of them. Her memory of what happened to alter her life and leave her arms badly scarred is suppressed. Bummer right? The doctors all say it will come back when she is ready to handle it. Now Echo is forced to see her school shrink Mrs. Collins.
Things change for Echo after she cross paths with Noah Hutchins. Noah is the school loner who has a rep for one night stands and getting high off weed. After butting heads the two realize they share a common need. And that is to read their case files for information. Information they both are not allowed to have yet crave more than their next breath. Of course they soon start to crave each other as well.

Reading about these two made me feel like i was coming in to contact with static electricity. Check it out
'She pushed off her toes toward me, guiding my head down, and gently kissed my lips. No. This wouldn't be goodbye. I'd fill her up and make her realize she'd always be empty without me.' -Noah's inner monologue
They also connected on a deeper level. Check this out
'Her shoulders never shook. No tears streamed down her face. The worst type of crying wasn't the kind everyone could see-the wailing on the street corners, the tearing at clothes. No the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.' - Noah's inner monologue

Seriously.. Read this book!

Fave lines
"Stop sulking already. If you would have screwed her when you first met her, like i told you to, you wouldn't be twisted like a damn pretzel." -Beth

"I'll always save you." Because i would. I'd move heaven and earth. I'd willingly walk into hell and stay there. I'd give up anything and everything for him. -Noah

"Come here, baby." And with my words, Echo leaned into me: soft, pliant, broken. "You're not alone." I whispered into her hair as i cradled her in my arms. "You're not alone because you have me."

This book is unputdownable! I loved it! The writing is superb and the characters are captivating. You instantly fall in love with Echo and Noah and their friends. I cannot wait for Beth's book. If you have not read this book READ IT!
Echo- Is kind, hardworking and loving. I enjoyed watching her come out her shell and face her peers head on. She was stronger than she even realized. But when she did it was AMAZING. I hated how she allowed herself to be treated unfair by that BITCH Grace. And I hate the social class placed on kids in school and i hate hate hate followers. I loved her and Noah's relationship how they connected and shared their fears, struggles and goals with each other. I hope to get glimpses of her and Noah together in Beth's book.
Noah- What is their not to love about him. His strength and his love was so beautiful. It made him even more sexier if thats possible. He took no crap what so ever when it came to his friends and family. The guy exudes AWESOMENESS! He was also FEARLESS he had no qualms with taking on the system and fighting for what he believed. He also possessed GRACE when it came to accepting what he knew in his heart was right.
Lila- I liked Lila she proved to be a good friend. True she had her moments. But she never turned her back on Echo unlike some...
Mrs. Collins I loved her. I love how she really cared for both Echo and Noah. She championed for them and never let them down not once.
Beth- Was a whole sloppy mess but in a good way. I cannot wait for her story.

My Ratings
Characters- Lovable, Charming and Witty
Writing Style- Solid and Genuine
Plot/Storyline- Excellent
Steam Factor- Medium/Moderately Steamy
Overall- I LOVED IT! READ IT!!!
Profile Image for Pearl Angeli.
622 reviews949 followers
June 6, 2016
I enjoyed Pushing the Limits so much! It is such a sweet and emotional book. Actually my kind of book. I love troubled (but not angsty and annoying) main characters because it challenges me to dig deeper into their past and understand why they become what they are.

The story centers on Noah Hutchins-- a guy who became an orphan at a very early age because of the accident that happened to his family several years ago, and Echo Emerson-- a girl who suffers a memory suppression because of the freaky incident that happened to her and her mom. Both of them share a couple of subjects together at school but they never had a chance to be good friends until their new clinical social worker Mrs. Collins came and partnered them for tutoring sessions.

This book was full of emotions, but that wasn't the only thing that made me feel compelled to the book. It had a very entertaining start. There was humor and the characters instantly clicked the first time they collided. The chemistry was so good I can't help but sigh. I love Noahm he's a perfect book boyfriend. I love the way he's protective towards her brothers and towards Echo.

Echo is also one adorable character. Although she's vulnerable at the start, I admired her character development-- how she became tough in dealing her dilemmas. The secondary characters are also adorable. Isaiah is so cute and although I don't kind of connect with Beth at the start, my feelings toward her changed at the last chapters of the book. And of course, I love Mrs. Collins. She's cool! Every guidance counselor should be like her!

I just love this book! The only thing that kept me from rating it a perfect 5 was the romance . I love Noah and Echo's chemistry and their sizzling, make-out scenes but I was looking for more. The family drama was heavily emphasized in this book and I wish the author also made a great highlight in the romance because omg, they are perfect for each other. I want more Noah and Echo moments!!!

But as a whole, it's a great and unforgettable read. It's my first Katie McGarry book and I'm impressed with her writing style. I'll definitely read more of her books!

Rating: 4 Stars
Profile Image for Kristin (KC).
251 reviews25.1k followers
February 16, 2017
Pushing the Limits thoroughly pushed me to mine from its gut-wrenching start to its emotional finish. I devoured every drop of this amazing story as it brought me to hell and back right along with it. Every element I long for in a book was generously provided; engaging writing, broken yet lovable characters, sexual tension, angst and heartache, and finally, growth and sweet redemption. 

Echo has survived a heartbreaking tragedy that has left her with extreme physical and emotional scars, but the severe trauma of the event has taken away her memory of that fateful day. When her school counselor provides her with a tutoring job, Echo comes face-to-face with Noah...a fellow classmate who suffers torment of his own and sees Echo as some privileged, spoiled rich girl living the good life. However, these two lost souls slowly learn that they have more in common than they could ever imagine, and together, they face their demons in a fight for a chance at 'normalcy'. 

The worst type of crying wasn't the kind everyone could see--the wailing on the street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived...For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scars than life.

I felt the unfair way Echo's peers reacted towards her 'defect' was, for the most part, sadly yet realistically portrayed. Echo was initially a pushover who easily conformed to what others expected of her--but I understood her need for love and acceptance as she falsely believed that allowing others to take the reins over her broken life would temporarily make things easier.  Her eventual 'I'm worthy' epiphany pretty much had me throwing fists in the air!

This story was so wonderfully constructed and the author did an amazing job in bringing Echo's mental struggle to life. I was captivated and completely sucked right into her internal breakdown to the point where I actually felt myself struggling for air at times. The alternating perspectives between Echo and Noah  flowed flawlessly and allowed for an in-depth understanding of both characters. Noah's pain and strife reduced me to tears, as did his eventual happiness. As tragic as this story seemed, it was honestly an eye-opening, touching journey to an imperfect, but utterly heartwarming resolve. Simply beautiful! 

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Book Stats:
▪ Genre/Category: Romance/New Adult
▪ Steam Caliber: Mild
▪ Romance: Intense, slow build.
▪ Characters: Broken and lost, but lovable.
▪ Plot: High school setting. A heartbreaking journey of two emotionally damaged teens finding strength in one another.
▪ Writing: Expressive, engaging, and intense.
▪ POV: 1st Person: Dual Perspectives.
▪ Cliffhanger: None
▪ Next Installment: Character Spinoff

Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,130 followers
February 27, 2018
My first Katie McGarry read and was beyond pleased! I am a sucker for YA, and although the main characters are only eighteen, they spoke and acted more mature for their age.

This had a unique storyline, there was intelligible conversation and was emotionally charged!

Noah and Echo are seniors in high school and both dealing with horrific pasts. Noah would rather forget the event which led to his now screwed up life and wanting nothing more than to be reunited with his brothers. Echo wishes she could remember the event which tore her world to shreds and left endless nightmares in it's wake.

Noah is known as a “stoner” by other classmates and his only relationships are one night stands. Echo is a straight A student and only wants to be normal again so she can be in a relationship.

Are you going to take me to the Valentine’s Dance? Am I going to be more than another girl in the backseat of your car or will I be a joke between you and your friends?”

I don’t know. The truth stuck in my throat. I wanted to tell her she’d be more, but I couldn’t. I didn’t do attachments and here was this amazing creature, asking me for one.

Noah is a ward of the nightmarish system called Foster Care, and Echo’s family home unit is slowly sucking the life out of her.

”I want normal, Noah. Can you give me normal?”

”When are you going to figure out that doesn’t exist for people like us?” ..... She could pretend, but she’d never return to the girl without scars.

Their social worker, Mrs. Collins, is “hell on wheels” funny, but because of her tenacity and genuine care for Noah and Echo, she is pivotal in getting their lives pointed in the right direction and unwittingly into each other’s arms :)

I totally enjoyed watching Noah and Echo’s relationship evolve from mutual irritation and distrust for one another bloom into the sweetest love.

I am anxious to read more by this author!!
Profile Image for Stephanie .
172 reviews34 followers
September 9, 2012

I was all set to give it 2.5 stars--generous of me, even--but the resolution of Echo's story was the last straw. Blame and further demonize the already demonized mentally ill mother? Ok, a goddamn 1 star for this over dramatized and hollow book! Crucio to you! I am enraged right now and will try to refrain from being an a-hole with this review.

The best thing about Pushing the Limits is that it had an interesting plot: Echo is dealing with the loss of her older brother, overbearing father, self-centered step-mom, bipolar mother and tenuous high school social status, while trying to remember a traumatic experience she's blacked out of her memory; and Noah, who is trying desperately to reunite what's left of his family--him and his two little brothers--after losing both parents in a house fire a few years ago, separating Noah and his two brothers, as they're placed in different foster homes. Sadly, the execution was a mess, the writing hollow and uninspiring, wrought with misguided metaphors and cheesy analogies, painted ludicrous images of Echo and Noah alike and everyone else related to them. Most of the characters were also one-note and unlikable. I didn't love ANYONE. I liked Noah most times, and merely tolerated Echo. Oh, and Echo's "friends", with the exception of Lila (once in a blue moon), were shit. And that bastard Luke needs a good thump in the face.

There was also a whole lot of telling and not enough showing, at least not showing in a way that engaged me as a reader. For me, Pushing the Limits had no heart despite the material being there. The material surely pushed the limits, but unfortunately, McGarry's writing left a lot to be desired. I found reading this novel akin to watching one of those horribly good-bad Lifetime movies. Poor production, acting, soap opera-ry drama, and crap dialogue? It's all here in the book.

I was also very much horrified with the way McGarry handled Echo's mom's type-I bipolar disorder. I don't know if she did any research at all about how it affects people, but I'm sure those diagnosed with either type who read this would be offended. After finishing the novel, and knowing where the author left Echo's relationship and opinion of her mother, I almost feel the mental illness was used as a cheap ploy to push the limits of this story all in the name of drama. I was very much hoping there would be a sliver of humanizing Echo's mother (her actions we really farfetched for her type of illness), who was an emotional prisoner to her disease for so long. Better writing, perhaps, could have made that not the case. And the resolution of her not only turning out to be an, but also a selfish, grudge holding bitch who doesn't seem to care two shits for her daughter. It was inconceivable. Especially since McGarry spent a good portion of the book with Echo remembering the times her mother did in fact love her and cared. As a reader, you never get a sense for the difficulty Echo's mother had with living with her disease (a difficulty that's not always easy to just write-off the mentally ill person as being psycho and selfish). In that aspect, it made Echo's and everyone else opinion of her mother one-sided, making the whole plot-line, for me, insensitive and a bit contrived.

I was all excited to read this because a dear Goodreads friend of mine, whose opinion I'm usually in agreement with, said it was close to a Marchetta book. After reading this, I can tell you that that is utter blasphemy, IMO. Melina Marchetta is a writing goddess (I know, over the top, but SO VERY TRUE!). And although Pushing the Limits deals with family dynamics and relationships, which is Marchetta's signature forte, it doesn't even hold the slightest of candles in resemblance of her work. Sorry to say, friend.

But don't believe me. Read it for yourself (my opinion is more so in the minority); though, I'd say borrow it from a friend or the library and spend the money on an actual Marchetta book.

Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 9 books2,689 followers
June 12, 2012
I can think of only three books that have ever made me cry, one of which is Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. If you haven’t gotten this one on pre-order yet, go ye forth and do so. This is a 2012 must read.

Since I write paranormal, I don’t often get a chance to pick up YA contemporary. But obviously I’m missing out. Especially if the other titles out there right now are half as engrossing as Katie McGarry’s debut.

After finishing this novel, I wanted to start it again. Because I missed the characters. They were THAT real to me. The relationships in this book are so tangible and heartrending and gut wrenchingly spot on.

There are several threads running through this book at once, which is just one of the reasons that I loved this story so much. It’s told from alternating points of view. So our two main characters, Echo and Noah, begin with their own agendas in mind, their own separate problems and struggles. Then, against their wills, they are brought together by their circumstances.
As the story progresses, the lives of these two young people (and consequently their struggles) begin to intertwine. They become enmeshed with one another and I became enmeshed with them, snared by the aestheticism of their voices and their world and their all-too-real dilemmas.

And I haven’t even gotten to the romance in this novel, which is one of the major themes.

Echo and Noah = HELLO CHEMISTRY.

The sexual tension between the two is just about unbearable—and that’s delicious when that happens in a novel, isn’t it? Sweet torture is what I’ll call it.

More than the tension, though, there is also a gradual build to the relationship between them. And I’m a sucker for a romance that is layered by one moment or encounter at a time, and then another.
I know I started this review by saying that this novel made me cry, but it also made me laugh. A lot. Ms. McGarry had a true gift for voice, and many of Echo’s internal moments sent me over the edge with giggles. At one point, I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard. And as for Noah, I can say that the male voice feels startlingly accurate--I think I gained many insights to the male brain!

So I have a “favorites” shelf in my house. And this one has a special place there, because I’m going to be reading it again, and then again.
Profile Image for NiCoLeTa E. {Addicted To Books}.
1,347 reviews85 followers
July 26, 2016
Wow!!! That was a GREAT book!!!!!

I don't know how to expess to you how i felt reading that story, guys...
It was riveting... It was redeptive... It was so... emotional....

I really loved the two main characters.....
They were fighters... and their lives was the fighting arena...
Separated they were good, but when they were together was amazing....

None of them was having an easy life, but together they overstepped every obstacle that get in their way and they earn a better life....
Their past broke my heart.... but their future brought the smile in my lips...
I admired their fighting spirits, even though sometimes they were cracked and gave up for a while....
They stood side by side and they did it!!!! Yeah!!!!

“I watched you battle against the worst memory of your life and I watched you win. Make no mistake, Echo. I battled right beside you. You need to find some trust in me … in us......
If you’re scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don’t walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here’s the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that, too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I’ll try.”

Echo's life had change the last three years.... The loss of her brother was unbareable and the ugly scars in her hands made her unsure of herself, so she stayed away from everyone and hiding... Her mind was having a black hole, she had lost her memories of her tragic accident....
She was forced to meet the school social worker for helping her out... Beyond that, her father was pressuring her too much... One day, she decided to rejoined the student body around her and the only thing that wanted was her life back to normal... But then, stepped in her life Noah and Noah was far from normal....

Noah was having his own issues... His parents died in a fire accident 2,5 years before and he was forced to be separated from his little brothers... He was living in a foster home and it was forbidden to have contact with his brothers... All he ever wanted was to fight for reunited his little family, but they were many obstacles to overcome... He doesn't care for anything else than that... Until Echo makes an appearrance in his life...

Noah and Echo shared a unique bond....
She feels safe with him... He never judge her, like all the others do, he never turned his eyes away when her scars are exposed and he is making a lot of efforts to help her to regain her memories....
From the other hand, Noah feels different with her and for the first time he feels love for other person than his brothers and his two closest friends... and that scares him... She want Echo, but how he can manage to be with her and to reunited his family????

The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see—the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.

I won't say much more, i just wanna mention Mrs Collins... She was the one who brought Echo and Noah close to each other... And she was the one who with one or another way, tried to help them!!!! She was an amazing person...

Well, i really liked that book...

And i can't wait for Beth's story.... I'm on my way....
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,511 reviews3,754 followers
July 10, 2017
4 Stars

Overall Opinion: This was actually better than I thought it would be! I get in the mood for some teenage drama every once in a while, and I read a YA book. I'm happy I found this one in one of my trusted GR friend's favorites list! This author goes pretty deeply into these characters, and made me feel for both of them and root for their happiness. Both of them were dealt crappy hands, but they were able to find safety and love in each other. This is a great example of where we aren't given steam, but there was enough connection to make up for it! My biggest complaint? The ending. I don't know why an epilogue would hurt!! I'm a well known epi-ho, so there is that...

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Echo and Noah's story. They've known who each other are for a while, but they have to actually be together when Echo is assigned to tutor Noah. They bump heads at first, but they soon find out that they both have a lot going on in their lives that other people in the school have no idea about. Echo has some mysterious scars on her arms that appeared all of a sudden and got her on the outs with the popular crowd she was with, and Noah is a relatively new kid that hangs out with a stoner crowd. They both have been assigned to work with this new clinical social worker in the school to work through their struggles, and they bond through it and fall in love. There is some family and friend drama, some past demons to work through, and some sweet moments...and they get a HFN ending.

POV: This alternated between Echo and Noah's POV.

Overall Pace of Story: Good. I never skimmed and I thought it flowed well.

Instalove: No, but they do move pretty quickly into stronger feelings.

H rating: 4.5 stars. Noah. I really liked him. I appreciated how much he cared for his family.

h rating: 3.5 stars. Echo. I liked her, but the way she let some people treat her really bugged me (her friends and her dad).

Sadness level: Low/moderate. I cried, but I never needed any tissues.

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Low. There are some heavy make out sessions, but they never have sex.

Descriptive sex: No

Safe sex: N/A

OW/OM drama: Yes

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This is my biggest complaint about YA (and even some NA) books. I understand that they are young, and we shouldn't necessarily get a HEA with them married with kids -- but why couldn't we at least get a glimpse into their future as adults? Or going to college? Something. I would call this a HFN ending.

How I got it: I got it on loan through my public library and Amazon.

Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,857 reviews5,629 followers
May 5, 2014
**Only $0.31 at Amazon US, 5/5/14- YES, 31 CENTS!**

**4.5 stars**

Wonderful, guilty-pleasure, angsty teen goodness!!

When it comes to rating these hurt-comfort teen stories I tend to just go with my gut and let reason fly out the window. Sure, this book has its fair share of issues. Everything is wrapped up perfectly and neatly, everyone gets over their issues in a timely fashion, and the bad boy is tamed by love. However, did I love it? You bet your butt I did!!

I have a weakness for big brothers caring for younger siblings after the death of a parent (see Storm). What can I say, I love a strong man who puts his siblings ahead of himself. Noah was a character I could get behind. And I liked the way his relationship progressed with Echo. It felt nicely paced to me and not insta-love-ish. I appreciated the talented writing and the restraint of Katie McGarry. I dug them together.

I think that the story that captivated me the most was Noah's, actually. I enjoyed his voice the best. I felt like when the writer was talking as Echo, my feelings were being more manipulated, if that makes sense. However, I honestly loved reading each page of both Noah and Echo's journey.

I have to say, though I really liked the main characters, the secondary characters were just loathsome. I wanted to bitch-slap Grace so hard!! She is a (insert nasty word HERE). I also didn't forgive Ashley (aka daddy-stealer... what? I would never get over that "I just wanted to be your mom so badly" BULL) and her emotion-void father.

I think what pushed this to 5 stars for me was how well the author pulled me into the main character's lives. I was completely invested in their stories and I cared so freaking much about what happened to them. That is saying a lot.

When I saw that there was a second book in the series, I was PISSED. I thought it would be a continuation of Echo and Noah's story (which, by the way, would have been totally unnecessary). I was so happy I could have done a little dance when I saw that it was Beth's story instead. Kate McGarry got the memo to leave well enough alone!!! (note: listen up Colleen Hoover!!!). I will most certainly be moving on with this series.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Zain Otoom.
130 reviews186 followers
July 25, 2017
"Because growing up means making tough choices, and doing the right thing doesn't necessarily mean doing the thing that feels good."
You know it's a good book when you'll never look at certain things the same way. This book was such an unexpectedly good read. I picked it up thinking it was like any cheesy romance book out there. Boy, I was wrong.
Now, I never had to deal with any of the problems that the main characters had to, nor do I know people in real life who had. But I do know that the author dealt with these problems quite realistically. It was really hard sometimes to read because of all the mess going on. My heart would be teared into pieces just reading certain chapters.
I teared up a couple of times, but I also smiled widely many times; especially at the end.
I love it when characters grow.
Not to mention, this book does send out some really great messages, but I like feel mentioning them would be a spoiler. Besides, not everyone get the same experience reading the same book. You'll probably latch on specific things that will stand out to you.
Why one star off? Well, I wanted a different kind of romance in this book, one that suited the tone of it. It felt off sometimes.
But don't take that as a con. Honestly, just ignore the romance and focus on the other things that this book gives you.
Profile Image for Natalia.
254 reviews59 followers
September 24, 2017
That was great. When I started this book I thought it would be some kind of cliché story about a good girl and a bad boy. But surprisingly it turned out to be way more. So much more.
The thing that impressed me the most were the character. As I said I was expecting cliché and one dimensional characters, but they weren’t. They were complex and they had their own stories and problems to overcome. I love how they helped each other and how deeply they cared for each other.
They had a great relationship. I absolutely loved them together.
Also their family stories were very well developed. The messed up story with her mother, her relationship with her father, her stepmother, her brother, her friends and that’s only Echo���s. Noah has lots of family problems as well. I find it really impressive the author was able to develop her characters in such a great way in such a small book.
I really liked this book. I’m going to read the next one for sure.
Profile Image for Annie Brewer.
Author 15 books761 followers
August 8, 2012
A MILLION STARS FOR THIS BOOK!!!!!! OMG, my emotions are all over the place!! I thought My Life Next Door was my favorite of this year, but HOLY HELL SHIT this book tops it....only by a little. But ummmmm, NOAH HUTCHINS IS MY NEW HOT SEXY BOOK BOYFRIEND. JESUS CHRIST I CAN EAT HIM UP!!!!!! I need a day to collect my thoughts before a proper review. So I am just going to say, well done Katie!!!! This was FANTASTIC!!!!

Full review soon!

Edited review:

I have no idea where to begin with this review, my emotions are still very raw since I turned the last page of this book. But I will begin with the cover.....I LOVE THIS FREAKIN COVER. There are two different versions of this book. I got the hardback book the day it came out. OMG, as soon as it came out I was there. I called up my B&N and asked them to put this book on hold for me cause I was halling ass up there to get it! I feel like there was a wave of de ja vu. When I had this book in my hands, I clutched it to my chest and breathed in the book. Silly I know. But seriously, those two on the cover resemble very closely Noah and Echo. The other version is on ereader and I don't like that one as much. I am happy with the cover I've got. I mean look at them. First of all, the guy is smokin HOT and his position practically thrusting her up against the locker. Come on, that says enough right there. Oh yeah, I love it. And she's all leaning into him with her foot on the locker, supporting her. If I was her, I wouldn't be able to keep from collapsing with him that close. Damn! Anyway, you get the point, I love the book cover.

When I first heard of this book, I was all over it. I looked up reviews and so many reviews raved about this book. I also noticed ALOT of comparison to Simone Elkles' Perfect Chemistry. And if you know me well enough, you know how much I devoured that book. SO it was a safe bet that I would love this book just as much. But guess what? I love this book even MORE!!! I'll always love my Alex Fuentes....but my heart has now found Noah Hutchins and I can't help but say, HOLY SHIT! He will rock your world, I promise!

So now to get on with my review.

Echo Emerson lost everything the night her brother died in Afghanistan and she woke up in the hospital with no recollection of what happened to her...except the scars on her arms now her mom has a restraining order against her. She walks the halls like a zombie and is scared to be hersef around her friends that were there for her before the incident. Now they turn their back on her because she is different. They treat her like an outsider. She was dating popular boy Luke and when it got to be too much for her, she broke it off and quit going to school.
Her dad wanted her to get help. So she starts seeing social worker Mrs. Collins who tries everything she can to help Echo remember what happened that night that tore her family apart. Once she remembers, she might feel better and can finally sleep in peace for the first time in 2 years. In the mean time, she tutors a boy for chemistry, who is not much different than her....

Noah lost everything the night of the house fire 2 years earlier, which claimed his parents. His brothers were taken away and he was bouncing from foster family to foster family. Until Mrs. Collins became his social worker, claiming she could help him get his life back on track. Getting tutored by Echo was the last thing he expected...but maybe it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Together they worked to get answers about their past, that might help them both heal and face a future that is unknown. But can they do it together or will it shatter their world even more?

WOW, when I finished this book last night, I felt numb. I'm not saying there wasn't an HEA and I'm not saying there is. I'm saying from the moment I opened the book and started the first page, I felt every emotion from giddy, happy, funny, angry, sad, confused, back to angry, sad and everything inbetween. There were so many emotions going through me at once that it became hard to distinguish which emotion I was actually going through. The fact that both characters were facing such tough choices in their lives, it made my heart ache for them so badly. They started off kind of hostile toward each other. Noah felt that Echo was just this selfish, princess bitch that always got her way. And Echo assumed that Noah was this pot smoking, drinker asshole bad boy that everyone made him out to be. Their relationship grew slowly and intense once they realized that they were so much alike. They were both struggling with demons of their own, but trying to be themselves in the process. Noah was the sweetest, most wonderful guy Echo could have ever met. He supported her and even when he saw her ugly scars that covered her arms, he never turned away. Not once. And he even told her she was still beautiful. No one ever treated her the way Noah did. It was so beaituful to see their relationship blossom and intensify as time went on. I cried, laughed,smiled, cursed, pulled my hair, yelled at Noah, told some of them off throughout the book. There were some unexpected twists and dammit if I wasn't already distraught. Katie threw in some really crazy and sad shit in there. For giggles? I don't know, but I wasn't laughing. I cried so hard, I had to stop a few times to collect myself cause I couldn't see the pages. I understood their pain, losing a parent is never easy. My heart ached the whole way through with Noah. I wanted to hug him. Then at one point he tries getting custody of his 2 younger brothers once he graduates high school. OMG, that whole situation with that was hard to deal with. I had a hard time breathing, seeing the pain Noah went through. All he wanted was his brothers together again, their family minus their parents. And when you learn the truth about what happened that night, you're just even more broken up about it! It is truly sad!

I loved all of the secondary characters. Noah's best friends Beth and Isaiah were amazing! They were such good friends and support for Noah. They really looked after him and stuck by him, even when they were unsure about Echo. Beth kinda ticked me off at times. But I realized it was only to protect Noah's heart. I grew to love her.
I only liked Lila, Echo's best friend. Even though at first she pissed me off, she turned her shit around and showed her better side.I hate Grace and Luke and all the rest that were so judgmental and hateful. Little bastards! I punch their faces in! I loved when Noah and Luke fought at the dance. OMG, I was rooting for him to beat the shit out of Luke. Yeah, I'm volitile. Oh well.
I liked Echo's dad and her step mom, eventhough there was alot of drama with that. But OMG I wanted to kill her fucking mom!!!! I felt bad for her. I really did. But when I found out the truth, HOLY FUCKING SHIT, I wanted to slap myself for feeling sorry for that horrible bitch! I loved Noah's little brothers. OMG, my heart hurt for them. Their foster parents really warmed my heart but I still felt a stab of sadness for Noah because he wanted to adopt them so badly. But in the end, things worked out for the best. And my favorite character in this, Mrs. Collins...she was the glue to the whole thing. She was amazing! She never gave up on either of them. She showed them that to trust and put faith first, things will aways work out. I loved her so much for everything she did for them! Ugh, its bringing on the waterworks again! Just thinking about this book, makes me want to sob all over again. It was a beautiful story about love, friendship, trust, starting over, healing, and moving on.

The end. Oh my the ending was AMAZING! I loved it so much! Seriously, this book brought out so many raw emotions from me. I highly recommend this book to all romance lovers. Trust me, this book will consume you. And you'll be left thinking about it long after you turn the last page!! So all you PC fans, prepare for a story that will rock you, sock you, knock you on your ass! It's truly SPECTACULAR!!!! I am definitely reading more from this author!! Fantastic debut Mrs. McGarry!!!!
Profile Image for Brigid.
Author 35 books14.7k followers
December 4, 2013
I bought this book the day it came out. I mean, it had EVERYTHING I love in a book: hot boy, attitude, brothers, family drama, romance. I'm surprised there wasn't a neon sign on Goodreads screaming, "BRIGID KEMMERER, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK."

I tore through the first half. I was tempted to hide it under the table at a business conference. (I didn't. Though I did hide it under the table at a book signing this weekend. Shh.) The book made me cry, the book made me smile ... there was definitely an emotional reaction to some of the events.

That said, I can't decide on a star rating. And not like I can't decide between a 4 and a 5. I'm all over the map on this one. Each time I reach to click on a star, I'm like, "No, but wait..." Some of the relationships between people were SO AMAZING (like between Noah and his friends) but then others were so ... vague (like between Echo and Ashley), and I just can't decide where this one's going to fall. There's some great writing here, and I loved Noah as a character. I think he was fantastically written. Buuuuuuut then I spent half the book wanting to smack him. I even had an hour long chat with a friend last night about this book, and I *still* can't decide how to rate it. I'd say I'm going to leave it unrated because I don't want to skew another author's rating, but really, it's just because I don't know what to click. :-)

This book is getting huge buzz (well-deserved, I might add), so there are many, many other reviews to read that will give you a better picture of whether you'll like it. I definitely recommend it as a book to read, whether you like Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series, or Alex Flinn's books (her earlier stuff, not the recent paranormal fairy-tale stuff), or any kind of issue-heavy, edgy, YA Contemporary.

Profile Image for Kristen.
832 reviews4,732 followers
Shelved as 'finish-later'
November 17, 2015
I need to put this book down for the time being. I'm at 40% and I know this is an excellent book, but the subject matter is very serious, sad, and quite depressing. I'm in the mood for a lighter, happier read. I can tell this is one of the better young adult books written and I want to give it the change it deserves. I just need to be in the right mood to read it.
Profile Image for Nyrae Dawn.
Author 27 books3,938 followers
August 17, 2012

Love, love, love, love, LOVE.

That is all.

Oh, and one word.

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