Monday, August 13, 2012

Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits
by Katie McGarry
Published by Harlequin Teen
416 pages
Available on
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes

Some things are best left forgotten, but in Echo Emerson's case, some things need - must - be remembered. You see, Echo believes her mother tried to kill her, but she has zero recollection of the events that landed her nearly lifeless body in the hospital and left her with a plethora of scars detailing her arms. Scars that Echo tries to hide every day, regardless of the weather, with long sleeved shirts.

Noah Hutchins, on the other hand, would like to forget some things. He'd like to forget that his parents died in a fire, he would like to forget that his two young brothers live with foster parents, and he'd really love to forget the circumstances behind his parents' deaths.

In order for each of these people to survive high school, let alone life itself, they need to remember, whether they like it or not. And both are delivered to school psychiatrist Mrs. Collins, whose job entails helping them process and moe past those events that paralyze them.

In Echo's case, that is a very difficult task to accomplish. For one thing, her father and his new wife - her former nanny - are expecting a new child, almost as if they want to replace Echo's older brother Aries, who died while serving in Afghanistan. Echo feels unloved, unappreciated and unwanted by her father, who she views as trying to create a new family. Her father knows what happened the night Echo almost died, but he refuses to tell her, and he refuses to allow anyone else to do so. She must remember on her own.

For Noah, not forgetting is a challenge, because those days he can slip his circumstances from his mind are his freest. The days he sees his brothers, happily living with people they call "Mom" and "Dad" while seeming to have forgotten their real parents, gut him.

As part of their therapy, Echo must tutor Noah, a job neither of them particularly dislikes. Echo has red hair, luscious curves, and smells like cinnamon. Noah is HOT. All the girls think so, and Echo's best friend wants pictures of his six pack abs. But Echo has an ex-boyfriend who wants to remove the "ex" part, and this being high school, some of her "friends" want her to be with someone more socially acceptable. Of course, Echo wants Noah, and vice-versa.

What makes this book so good is its story. Told from the points of view of Echo and Noah, the first pages pull you in and keep you until it's over. Part of this is due to the mystery; what happened to Echo? She remembers bits and pieces, but behind each memory is the fear that she, who has so many things in common with her mother, is just like her. What if Echo is bipolar as well? Noah's mystery is not as involving, but we like him. Here is a boy who desperately wants his family to stay together, believing that it's the best for all of them. If parts of this seem a little predictable, maybe it's because some things are just going to happen.

Some pages will break your heart, others will make you giggle, and some leave you at peace. Echo is a fantastic character: she is feisty yet frightened, sexy yet steely, innocent yet worldly. Her father and stepmother, who could be cookie cutter, static characters, are not. Owen Emerson loves his daughter, and his attempt to control her is his way of protecting her. We see it, even if Echo does not.

There are a couple of sex scenes, but parents should not be worried about their teen reading this book. In fact, these sex scenes should be celebrated by parents wishing to preserve their teens' virginity. If you know what I mean ...

I am an unabashed fan of YA literature, and this book is a great example why. The story is so good, the characters believable and accessible, and the romance realistic. This is just an all around good book, whether you're a teenager or not.

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