You Read What? Book Review: Pushing the Limits

*I received my copy of the e-book from Netgalley with the publisher’s permission.

KATIE McGARRY is a new author with a debut YA novel, Pushing the Limits. Her new novel, Dare You To, will be out in 2013.

(Picture of the Author: Katie McGarry)


The US cover was played safe. Given the nature of the story, I thought much more could’ve been done with it. Nothing too obvious of course but something that would’ve lived up to the story, you know? The UK cover on the other hand looks awesome. It feels edgier and abstract without being too vague. It’s also reflective of the story. Noah is on the fringe of high school (and society). Echo is broken and fragmented. That’s why the UK cover gets to be the  overall picture for the post.


“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.

[WARNING: Spoilers are in the rest of this review. Proceed with caution.]


This story was…wow. I’m really happy I read it and I had to request it twice on Netgalley before receiving if that’s any indication on how much I wanted to read it. I heard a lot of good things and I feel that the book has lived up to its hype. It was nicely paced and McGarry knew how to keep us reading by dropping small questions along with the major ones: Who gave Echo her scars and why? Pretty early on we’re given the answer to the first half of the question and we don’t get the answer to the second part until near the end…and we, like echo, might not like the answer. Oh, wait, what? Echo doesn’t know why? Yup, our main character has supressed her memory of the night in question which makes our frustration of not knowing link up with hers.

I’ll try not to spoil too much because I do feel that people should read this book. It deals with topics like foster care, family, death, high school, love, acceptance, flaws and mental health. I haven’t read anything like this and it’s one of the most realistic books out there for teens. Plus, it does the bad boy thing the right way which is a plus.


I did feel that words and/or phrases were repeated far too much and that it was noticeable (*cough cough* Noah). It didn’t happen too often which is great or otherwise it would have drowned the narrative. It was written in a way where it heightens the emotions inside readers. Great examples of these are: the scene where Noah finally let’s himself breakdown in tears (that had me tear up especially since I’m an older sibling of three others) and the way Echo’s father and step-mother behave towards her. Not in the since that they’re cruel but that they come off as cold people who don’t love or care about her.


The characters are great and, while some are one dimensional, most were well rounded individuals who you either hate, like or both sometimes.

Echo – I liked the way McGarry wrote this character and Noah too (I’ll get to him later). For most of the book, you’re rooting for Echo because you feel bad for what’s happened to her and love the way she takes charge when it comes to Noah. I disliked Echo when it came to her interactions with the popular crowd (ie. Grace and her idiot ex-boyfriend who’s name escapes me right now but who, later, is okay…but Grace is still a bitch). I don’t understand how you could be friends with those people. A friend is someone who is there for you when you need them most and who would back you up. Most of her friends ran for cover when her social status plummeted after the incident that gave her the scars. THE GIRL ALMOST DIED AND YOU’RE GIVING HER GRIEF BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T TRY TO BECOME INTEGRATED IN POPULARITY AGAIN????? Enough said. Also, the interaction between herself and her father was particularly pain to read and it sucked that she has to endure this all by herself since her brother died in combat.

Noah – I liked Noah. It’s hard to resist a bad boy regardless but he’s a healthy kind of bad boy because, get this, he really isn’t much of a bad boy underneath. He’s a really good guy with a mission to adopt his two younger brother after graduation despite the fact that this decision could mean that he’d have to put his own life on hold. HOW HE BE A BAD GUY???? I know how. He’s made in all the RIGHT ways like the way he flirts our girl Echo (lucky red head *shakes own non-red head head). He’s the kind of person Echo needs in her life given that she never has any one on her side (vice-versa for him). What’s great is that their relationship isn’t those I-CAN’T-LIVE-WITHOUT-YOU-SO-I’LL-DO-SOMETHING-HORRIBLE-TO-MYSELF-BECAUSE-THAT’S-ROMANTIC. It’s two people who can understand one another’s situations better than other people and can provide what the other one needs. They make each other better while still being independent of each other.

NOTE: Things like calling each other “Baby” and saying “You’re mine” and “I’m yours” irks the hell out of me. Besides that, the relationship was healthy.

Ms. Collins – Is kick ass (excuse my French). I LOVED this woman and wish I had her as a Guidance Counsellor (my high school counsellor was awesome too). I won’t say anymore because describing how awesome she is would ruin the awesome cloud that surrounds her. I suggest you read the book.

Memorable or Forgettable:

I’m not great with character names unless they become so entrenched in pop culture that I have no choice BUT to know (ie. Harry Potter, Twilight’s Bella/Edward). I’ll call this book memorable. The story was so out there and intriguing. I was emotionally invested in both characters which is important.

I give this book a 3 and ½ evil Graces out of 5.

Keep on reading,

A. A. Omer

The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.

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