Goodreads rating: 4.32
ARC, 384 pages
Expected publication: July 31st 2012 by Harlequin Teen
"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.
As my readers know, I tend not to read contemporary. I love the paranormal and it's the genre that I want to break into as a writer. But there's something about keeping that paranormal element out, so that you can really work on the characters and their issues. Katie McGarry is a pro at this. I really fell in love with all the characters, and these characters were so broken. Echo lives with her overbearing and control-freak father and her new step-mom, who used to be Echo's old babysitter (I know, weird). Her brother is dead and there's been a hole in her heart since then. And on top of that, she has strange scars on her arms that she doesn't remember getting, but she know it has to do something with the last night she spent with her mother. This was a great foundation for a character that is nearly beyond fixing. Echo is so far deep in her own sorrow and confusion that she has to go to counseling. She wants to remember what happened to her that night, but no one is sure if her mind can handle it.
Noah is another broken (though not as much as Echo) character that we grow to love. He lost both of his parents, and all he has are his brothers, who are both in foster care after he hit one of their foster parents that was beating their own kid. Noah spends a lot of effort trying to see his brothers. But when he meets Echo, they find out that they can help each other. At first, it's just to look into each other's files to find certain information that they both want. But then it turns into something way more. I loved watching Noah and Echo grow closer together. They needed each other so desperately, and there were times when I wondered how they just didn't fizzle out. But they understood each other so completely, even when they thought they didn't. Even when one of them did something wrong. And Noah was the best bad boy. You could tell how much he cared about Echo (especially when half of the book was from his POV), and Echo at first only seemed to use him as an escape from what was happening to her. But they became a lot more.
The romance was what made this book, but the relationships Echo and Noah had with the side characters were what filled in the cracks. The school shrink (who's name I forget) was one of my favorite characters, because she never gave up on either of them or their families. She was the glue that held this book together, and she did everything to help those kids not just cope, but thrive. There are so many things that ALL of these characters need to work through with each other, and Katie McGarry tied it all together nicely. I can't wait to see what she comes out with next!
A Q&A With Katie McGarry
Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and she remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.
Writing has given Katie an excuse to pursue her passions. Research for her books has provided her with the amazing opportunity to train with baseball players, ride along in a drag car at ninety-six miles per hour and experience boxing and mixed martial arts. Katie loves to visit schools and talk to teenagers about her research, writing and the truth that no dream is out of reach.
Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?
A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing over- whelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.
Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?
A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the manuscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it always felt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek mythology so it made perfect sense that she would name her children after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the moment I found Echo’s, I fell in love. Echo, to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.
Q: Which character is the most “like” you?
A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.
Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?
A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have unfortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.
Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?
A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The people I grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willingly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and congratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.
Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?
A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even stranger to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.