Pushing the Limits – Katie McGarry

“‘My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has… well… issues. How do you think I’m doing?’
That’s how I would have loved to respond to Mrs. Collins’s question, but my father placed too much importance on appearance for me to answer honestly. Instead, I blinked three times and said, ‘Fine.’
Mrs. Collins, Eastwick High’s new clinical social worker, acted as if I hadn’t spoken. She shoved a stack of files to the side of her already cluttered desk and flipped through various papers. My new therapist hummed when she found my three-inch-think file and rewarded herself with a sip of coffee, leaving bright red lipstick on the curve of the mug.”
Straight-A student Echo is a mess. Two years ago her borther died. Then another incident left her scarred for life, literally. Her arms are covered in thick red scars and she cannot remember anything of that night. Her father wants her to move on, be normal, and forget but until she graduates she is in therapy and Mrs. Collins, her new clinical social worker seems to think she can help. 
Bad boy Noah is angry. Two and a half year ago a fire ripped his family apart, killing his parents and putting him and his brothers into foster care. Not allowed to see his little brothers because of an incident involving him and his first foster father Noah can’t wait to graduate so he can fight to get his family back together again. Due to his ‘instability’ and violent past he is assigned to Mrs. Collins watch, he’s cutting classes and going down grades, and she wants it to stop. 
In the hope of motivating Noah and helping Echo regain some of her life Mrs. Collins pushes them together. Echo starts tutoring Noah and the two of them become friends. It’s breaking all the rules but feelings start to gather and maybe, just maybe, they can help each other get what they really want. 

I’d heard amazing things about Pushing the Limits and I knew I’d have to read it myself to fully understand why people believed it was so good. It sounded ok but a bit too focused on romance from the blurb on the back of the book, once I started reading though I realised that there was a lot more to Pushing the Limits than meets the eye, and it was absolutely wonderful! 
The story was so much more than romance. Echo has problems with what happened to her and she cant remember anything. On top of that her father is putting pressure on her to graduate with top marks and go to business school, even though all she wants to do is paint. Her stepmother, and old babysitter, keeps making things all about her, her mother is not allowed to see her due to a restraining order and her brother, Aries, is dead. All she wants to do is paint and sketch and fix her brother’s car. It’s a lot for any girl to take and to top it off she is covered in ugly scars that she tries her hardest to hide whenever anyone is around.  You don’t find out what happened to Echo until very late on in the book and that was part of what made the story so good, seeing her overcome some of these issues was just amazing. Noah is a good boy at heart but gave up everything when he was deemed unsuitable to be around his brothers. In his first foster family the father was beating the biological son so Noah turned on him. Trouble was no one believed Noah and so he was branded with a violent streak. He is angry at the world and takes it out on himself by sleeping around, skipping classes and getting high. The story about what happened to his parents was heartbreaking and it explained quite a lot about why Noah acted in the way he did.
As you can tell I really loved the story, I loved how much depth there was and how some small things could make a difference to the characters lives. The characters were awesome and I fell in love with them. Others were really amazing too and I loved beth, Isaiah, Lila and Mrs. Collins. But the book has its fair share of awful characters and I couldn’t stand Ashley, Mr Emerson, Grace and Luke. Feelings changed as the book went on but Luke really wound me up and I found myself swearing at the book in places just because of him! 
The writing was incredible, flowing so well and pulling you in so that you don’t realise that you’ve been reading for an hour and must go to work soon! Told in split perspective you get both Echo and Noah’s perspective on each other and their lives. I loved how Echos chapters were a bit longer at the front because of how much notice she took of everything around her. I preferred Echo because I thought her voice was more realistic, Noah’s seemed a little forced at odd times but I still enjoyed it. 
I really would recommend Pushing the Limits to any teen, it handles so many issues including self image, sex, virginity, parental pressure, peer pressure, mental health, grief and family problems. All this with an amazing romance means that Pushing the Limits is a must read! 
Pushing the Limits was published on August 3rd by MiraInk. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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