Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: counseling, memory loss, foster care
Format read: ARC from NetGalley.
Summary: Echo and Noah are paired up when Mrs. Collins, their counselor, suggests Noah get a tutor to help improve his grades after his downhill slide due to his parent’s death.
Does this sounds like a disastrous combination to you:
a girl with repressed memories (Echo) + a good boy turned bad (Noah) + lots of counseling to “fix” them (Mrs. Collins)
I thought it was all kinds of right.
Echo used to be Miss Popularity but a secret event happened that caused her to become a recluse. She and her boyfriend, Jake, broke up and the majority of her friends have ditched her in favor of believing the rumors that circulate her mysterious absence from school after The Event. She’s a fractured girl with repressed memories of what actually happened that left her so badly scarred. She wears long sleeve shirts no matter the outdoor temperature. Her relationship with her father is strained and his remarriage to her pregnant ex-babysitter doesn’t help matters.
Noah is an all-star-athlete-turned-playboy. He lost his parents to a house fire and has bounced from foster home to foster home since then. His younger brothers aren’t allowed to live with him and he’s got limited interaction with them because he’s gotten into a few brawls at his foster homes. His good boy, all-star rapport is thrown out the window in favor of being a pot-smoking, sex machine who lives in the moment.
Echo wants to remember what happened. Noah wants to gain custody of his brothers. Both of them need the help of Mrs. Collins, the new school grief counselor, to work through their issues. She pairs below-average-Noah up with outstanding-student-Echo for tutoring. The two make a pact to help each other get the information they need from Mrs. Collins.
McGarry did a brilliant job of telling Echo and Noah’s story via their dual perspectives. She created two incredibly broken characters with a lot of baggage and very big issues and forced them together. Issues in young adult fiction can be a bit on the fluffy side, but I thoroughly enjoyed that McGarry took the plunge and didn’t take the easy way out with their journey. Echo and Noah were each other’s new beginnings – they were truthful and honest about their pasts – open about things that no one else knew. It only made sense that as they began to trust one another, they would fall in love (though not without a few bumps in the road).
To the reader, Echo and Noah’s pasts are somewhat vague. McGarry chose to use the first person perspective to allow us to experience Echo’s returning memories and all the details of Noah’s parent’s house fires along with them. Just as with counseling, there was a slow revelation of their complete history. I very much enjoyed the quiet progression because I couldn’t anticipate when the next big plot twist was going to happen.
Noah and Echo’s relationship definitely kept me intrigued until we found out more details. In the simplest of terms: their relationship was steamy. Noah had a reputation for having one night stands and never settling down, but Echo falls for him anyway. Noah realizes he’s one of the few people Echo opens up to and the glimpses we have of how incredible and awesome and swoon-worthy he is made me want to shout for Echo to GO FOR IT. McGarry got real — Echo needed someone who would be tender and kind to her in all of the ways her family had neglected to be.
I could continue to go on and on with my love for this beautifully broken love story, but I’m going to stop in favor of you taking a moment to pre-order this book so you can fall in love with Echo and Noah too.