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Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

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Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
It's been happening so frequently lately - I just want to like the book more than I actually do. Now, don't get me wrong. Pushing the Limits wasn't terrible. If you go for that whole bad boy/good girl thing, you'll probably like it. If you're caught up in the current trend of popular girls falling from their thrones, only to be taken in by guys from the wrong side of the tracks, you'll probably like it. But if you like your characters to have some substance, to make reasonable decisions and find themselves in realistic situations, you'll probably feel the same way I did.

Pushing the Limits is about Echo Emerson, formerly popular, now at the bottom of the social totem pole after a horrible night she can't even remember. Her over-protective father keeps her on a tight leash and her new stepmother (formerly her nanny) makes things worse with every word she says.

Noah Hutchins used to have it all, but then his parents died in a tragic fire. Now he's lost everything - he was separated from his brothers and shuffled between foster homes. He smokes weed, he drinks, he and the people he hangs out with now aren't exactly the kind of people you can take home to your grandma. There isn't a single adult in his life concerned with his well-being.

Echo and Noah are thrown together by a new clinical social worker placed at the school. They begin their tutoring sessions on a strictly professional basis (though neither of them particularly want to be there), but they soon become friends, conspiring to get into their thick files to find out what they need to know. For Echo, it's the details of the night she can't remember. For Noah, it's the location of his brothers. As they conspire to help each other out, their feelings grow and soon they're inseparable. But being from such different worlds, can they make it work?

I can't put my finger on what I just didn't like about this book. I guess that, in general, I didn't think it was well-written. It wasn't realistic. And, really, for trying to be such a sexy YA novel, it was pretty childish.

I rolled my eyes, heavily sighed, and/or groaned in disgust every time Noah referred to Echo as his "nymph," his "siren," or his "goddess." This was not sexy. It was unrealistic, and honestly, kind of gross. They barely knew each other when he started using these words to describe her. Add to that his constant descriptions of the way she looked, and I walked away with the impression of a possessive jerk who's only after Echo for her body (and her cinnamon sugar smell).

Noah's custody battle? Insane. What judge is going to grant custody to a teenage boy who is barely passing his classes, working a low-paying (part-time) job, and well-known for smoking pot, drinking, and using women? Especially when the children in question are in a loving, supportive foster home with foster parents they actually like! That the foster parents would even see Noah as a threat was insane and absolutely unrealistic. That anybody in Noah's life would encourage him to pursue custody almost pushed me over the edge.

The situation with Echo's scars was similarly ridiculous. Why did every adult in her life unanimously agree to keep her in the dark? Echo doesn't remember a single thing that happened that night - she only knows that she's covered in scars and forbidden to see her mother anymore. The scars impact her daily life to the point where she isolates herself from her friends, wears long sleeves and gloves even in the middle of summer, and can't even sleep at night. AND SHE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHERE THEY CAME FROM. The adults in her life are absolutely horrific - don't get me started on the fact that Echo, a nearly full-grown woman, needs to ask permission from her father to take her prescribed medication.

Finally, we come to Echo's mother. Echo repeatedly states that she loves her mother, misses her mother, wishes she could see her mother, but she has a difficulty remembering any good times they had together. Echo remembers hiding from her mother - locked in closets with her older brother - because she would become so out of control. She knows that her mother is to blame for her scars, and although she doesn't remember why, she still constantly pursues the idea of being reunited with her. Her mother's mental illness is used as an excuse for making her an absolutely terrible parent, concerned only about herself and never apologizing for all the pain and heartache she's caused for her daughter. In the end, when Echo remembers that her mother literally tried to kill her, it's just brushed off because she's mentally ill, as if that's the sort of thing that mentally ill mothers do on a daily basis and it was just inevitable. Also, in the end, we still didn't learn what Echo's father was doing that was so important that he couldn't take her phone call when he knew he'd left her in a dangerous situation. The way her mother's mental illness was handled was appalling and really lowered my opinion of the book.

Overall, I had more problems with the second half of the book than with the first. I don't want to detail them all and scare off potential readers who might enjoy this book, because I'm getting old and crotchety and probably would have liked this book a lot more when I was the same age as the characters. As I said before, I just wasn't the target audience for this one. All in all, I'm disappointed, and after thinking about it for a couple days, I'm lowering my original rating from three stars to two stars. ( )
  Sara.Newhouse | Feb 11, 2016 |
I really liked this. I thought the characters were well developed, there was an interesting (if somewhat drwan out) backstory, and the romance was believable. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
This is a gritty, romantic story about two troubled teens. Noah and Echo alternate in telling the story from their point of view and they are both extremely likeable characters, despite their flaws and insecurities. Noah, may be a 'bad boy' on the surface, but deep down he is a caring, considerate human-being and I can see teenage girls falling for him in a big way. I enjoyed watching the romance develop between Noah and Echo, they are perfect for each other. Too often in YA books, the characters are madly in love by page 10, but in "Pushing the Limits" love grew gradually making it more realistic. This is an emotional read about growing up and facing reality, and one I would recommend to older teenagers. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 22, 2016 |
This is a gritty, romantic story about two troubled teens. Noah and Echo alternate in telling the story from their point of view and they are both extremely likeable characters, despite their flaws and insecurities. Noah, may be a 'bad boy' on the surface, but deep down he is a caring, considerate human-being and I can see teenage girls falling for him in a big way. I enjoyed watching the romance develop between Noah and Echo, they are perfect for each other. Too often in YA books, the characters are madly in love by page 10, but in "Pushing the Limits" love grew gradually making it more realistic. This is an emotional read about growing up and facing reality, and one I would recommend to older teenagers. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 22, 2016 |
This is a gritty, romantic story about two troubled teens. Noah and Echo alternate in telling the story from their point of view and they are both extremely likeable characters, despite their flaws and insecurities. Noah, may be a 'bad boy' on the surface, but deep down he is a caring, considerate human-being and I can see teenage girls falling for him in a big way. I enjoyed watching the romance develop between Noah and Echo, they are perfect for each other. Too often in YA books, the characters are madly in love by page 10, but in "Pushing the Limits" love grew gradually making it more realistic. This is an emotional read about growing up and facing reality, and one I would recommend to older teenagers. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
I never went to bed last night and I just slept for an hour or two this morning but ever since I woke up I was avoiding this moment.
I simply can't do that any longer but I have no idea how to start describing the raw emotions that racked my heart and soul while I was reading the book. I know that these are strong words but if you don't get it then you haven't read the book. This morning after my tears dried up I was trying to sum up something that will make you guys understand how much I loved this book but I'll just improvise now...
If I had to describe the book in a few words they would probably be real, believable, easy to relate to, emotional, heartbreaking! It made me smile, it made me cry and it settled in my heart as my favorite book so far. Definitely the most meaningful book I've read in a while!
It's really and unbelievable read. The way Ketie McGarry has described her characters, the world she's build around Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins, that it was so easy to slip into their lives and experience everything right along with them (and when I say everything I mean it, the love, the heart-wrecking pain, the anger...).
The two main characters, were so different from each other at the time they met. Before their lives fell apart they were pretty similar but right now they are both living and their own personal hell, going trough it day by day. They were wrong for each other but the connection between them was so strong, due to the fact that they felt that pain I mentioned earlier. The both new loss and the were there for each other liken no one else could be for them.
Echo was the girl everyone new about, everyone talked about, everyone wanted her life and then she lost everything she cared about in just a few months. Her life changed inevitably after her brother's death and the horrible accident she can't remember.
Now her life consists of having very little sleep, doing what her father wants her to do, pretend she's normal at school and hiding her scars from the rest of the world. Simple, but that routine changed very quickly when the gorgeous, incredibly sexy and completely off limits, Noah Hutchins walked into her life teasing and trying to rattle her cage. That's when everything changed again for her, maybe this time for the better...
When you look at Noah, you see the sexy body, you see him as a stunner, a guy who uses girls for sex and that's all. But deep inside he is scarred just as Echo is on the outside. His fate was to lose his parents in a fire and his brothers to the foster system. A system he hated and fight with everyday. His one goal in life is to save money, find a semi-good job and take custody of his brothers. He can't stand the fact that he can't see them and he is hurting but by the way he acted with everyone you wouldn't be able to understand his pain. Only Echo did, she was the only one besides his friends that managed to break through the wall around his heart and she stole it away with her siren smile and guarded actions.

What I loved most about the book was the sincerity of the characters. Noah had a f****d up life and swearing was his a constant part of him. He rebelled and he messed up and he was far from perfect but he was real.
I particularly love one of his lines and here it is:
"It had been so long since I'd let myself fall for someone. I gazed into her beautiful green eyes and her fear melted. A shy smile tugged at her lips and at my heart. Fuck me and the rest of the world. I was in love."

I don't know what is it about bad guys that makes them so appealing. There is something amazing in each of them. In the end they turned out to have the biggest. kindest hearts and maybe that's because they've already been trough hell and the tough demeanor was his way of coping. But they always doubt themselves when it comes to being with the good girls and they always try so hard to prove that they're worthy. That makes them so sweet and gentle and pretty much every girl's dream. They don't even see the goodness inside themselves. Noah was just like that, trying, having doubt, expecting that Echo will snap out of her momentary daze and she'll leave. Little did he know, how much she loved him.
Everything in Noah made me smile from how good he is with Echo, and his brothers, to his love for Beth and Isaiah, to his tattoo as a tribute to his family(oh that tattoo alone made me cry).
And here's the quote that broke my heart:
"I want my mom and dad," I couldn't suck in air. "I just want my family back."

It really is impossible for me to describe just how I feel about this book. It was the best book I've read in a while, so full of love and heart-wrecking pain. It was an emotional roller-coaster and constant struggle but the characters fought their battle and survived! I loved every single second of it! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!!
added by SBBCreviews | editSBBCreviws (Jul 30, 2012)
 
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"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?" That's how I would have loved to respond to Mrs. Collins' question, but my father placed too much importance on appearance for me to answer honestly. Instead, I blinked three times and said, "Fine."
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Rendered a subject of gossip after a traumatic night that left her with terrible scars on her arms, Echo is dumped by her boyfriend and bonds with bad-boy Noah, whose tough attitude hides an understanding nature and difficult secrets.

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