Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Release Date:

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Purchase links: Barnes & Noble | Audible | Amazon


Katie McGarry‘s book Pushing the Limits is a book about two teens dealing with the aftermath of some pretty terrible and traumatic life experiences. Echo and Noah are two very different individuals brought together through their guidance counselor – at first, unwillingly. However, in typical Young Adult fashion, that doesn’t last long.

“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…. 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.”

I have to admit, this one took me by surprise. As a general rule, I don’t expect much from new authors – but Pushing the Limits reads like it’s the product of a veteran Young Adult author.

Initially, I thought the book was going to be about an ostracized cutter (not that there’s anything wrong with that story, but the “teen-self-harmer-changed-thanks-to-a-stranger’s-willingness-to-see-the-person-inside” has been done a million times, in about five different ways – which makes those YA stories too bland and predictable). To my great surprise, that was not the plotline at all. There is a lot more to Echo’s story than we – and her friends – are first led to believe, which made this for an even better story than I originally anticipated.

It’s a good YA book about two teens growing up and learning to accept the way their lives have turned out – as vastly different than they could ever have imagined. McGarry’s writing style is phenomenal – managing to keep the reader highly engaged throughout the 400+ page book. Like any good book, I was unable to put it down – and found myself lost in their stories, hurting for Noah’s family and just as desperate for answers as Echo.

Granted, the story is a bit heavy – following two teens as they navigate their teen years while struggling to come to terms with their horrendous pasts doesn’t exactly paint a pretty, sunshine-filled picture. However, there are moments of levity:

“‘Sup, man,” said Rico Vega, joining me in the back of Spanish class.

“‘Sup,” I answered. “How can they let you take Spanish when that’s what you speak half the damn time?”

“Why they let a bunch of gueros take English? You gringos gotta be stupid of you ain’t got it down in eighteen years.”

–Excerpt from Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

The only “negative” thing I have to say about this book is that it has the cliché Young Adult ending (open the spoiler tag below only if you want to know what that cliché ending is – though you can probably guess without looking if you’ve read a couple YA books). However, we all know the real story in these types of books is the process the characters go through to get to that ending.  With that, McGarry is successful; you fall in love with Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins – ending up wanting nothing but everything for them.

[spoiler title=”Cliché Young Adult Book Ending”]The two main characters drive off on a “see what else the world has to offer” trip across the country together.[/spoiler]

Ultimately, McGarry’s book passed the “Forever Shelf” test. Without a doubt, Pushing the Limits is one book I’ll want to read again… and again. In our interview with McGarry, she told us there was a sequel in the works – though this time following Beth, one of the side characters of Pushing the Limits – titled Dare You To, which has an anticipated release of 2013. We’re already itching to get our hands on that one!

Now for the even better news: you can win your own copy of Pushing the Limits – signed by author Katie McGarry! Check out our giveaway page and make sure to enter!

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