Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
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. Echo and Noah couldn’t be more different, but they find themselves united by a common goal: to sneak into their court- ordered social worker’s case files in order to learn the truth about themselves and their families. What they didn’t count on is falling in love -- and now 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.
I admire the character and story arcs quite a bit. Echo and Noah are both damaged and have some major issues that they need to work through. This gives each of them a lot of potential for growth as individuals, and I feel like that potential is met within the story. Each of them comes through their personal turmoils having learned and grown in a way that can easily be appreciated. Their relationship begins with irritation but coalesces into a mutual understanding and regard for one another, and I feel that their relationship progression is an acceptably accurate depiction of teenage emotions. The pacing and the plot contribute deftly to the character growth, and there is sufficient build-up and resolution and a wonderful lack of lulls.
As for those little things that I mentioned that keep me from becoming enraptured with the text? The dialogue sporadically grates on my nerves, and these little aggravations that keep popping up prevent the narration from feeling as authentic and easy as I would like. It is several small things that, combined, affect my enjoyment in a negative way. The dialogue at times feels clunky or somehow out of place. There is also an egregious amount of mythology-themed nicknames (goddess, nymph, siren) used to describe Echo throughout the text, and, while I get that these words tie back into the origin of her name, I feel that they suffer from overuse combined with a lack of variation between them. It is things like this that make Noah's internal dialogue particularly difficult to stomach at times. I want it to come across as effortlessly real, but instead the narration seems to suffer from trying a little bit too hard and it was distracting.
I adore the characters and their struggles and growth as well as the plot, but I feel that there is a disconnect between the characters and the dialogue - some of the thoughts and verbal exchanges just don't feel natural. Though this did bother me enough to lower my rating, I still love these characters and their stories and would recommend the book to those looking for a contemporary about personal growth and overcoming difficulties. Pushing the Limits contains some mild drug/alcohol use, language, and sex.