Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

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I have a new book boyfriend, and his name is Noah Hutchins.

McGarry’s debut novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS, is a raw and edgy contemporary work of fiction that leaps beyond the YA genre. At its base is a story about a girl and boy who audaciously search for a sense of normalcy after their respective worlds shatter around them. In that respect, this is a book that everyone can relate with, no matter your age.

High school senior and popular-girl-turned-social-outcast Echo Emerson finds herself tutoring resident stoner Noah Hutchins in order to save money for a personal project she desperately wants to complete. But, the story was so much more than that. This emotionally charged novel is about (re)defining yourself and your family, a demonstration in loss and resiliency, and finding hope in a fragile situation.

If you enjoy character driven novels, then this book is for you. Yes, there was an air of mystery that was woven throughout the book as Echo tries to figure out what happened to her two years ago that led to scars on her arms and amnesia of that night. But, the plot was secondary to the character development. Echo was a completely relatable character. She had such courage and strength and I could not even begin to tell you how often I found myself tearing up while reading her POVs. McGarry did a graceful job in balancing Echo’s growing relationship with Noah, her struggles with her social life, and her contentious relationship with her father and nanny-turned-pregnant-stepmother. Noah Hutchins was such a multi-layered character that I couldn’t help but fall in love with him. Initially described as a “bad boy,” he was so much more than that, and I loved how we got to see his layers peel back through Echo’s eyes. Noah is determination personified in piecing his family back together.

The split narrative between Noah and Echo was initially jarring, but once I got into the groove of things I feel this change of POVs really helped to enhance the pacing and depth of the story. With the exception of Echo’s stepmother, the supportive characters were well-rounded and multi-dimensional. In particular, Noah’s friends lent humor in just the right places.

Overall, McGarry nails it with this debut novel, and I, for one, cannot wait for her second, DARE YOU TO (Beth’s story), coming in 2013.
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

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