No one knows what happened that night.
No one knows why I now have scars on my wrists.
Not even me.
I'm trying to gets things back to normal.
To have friends again.
But it's not working that great.
Enter Noah Hutchins.
We couldn't be any more different.
Yet there's something going on between us.
We both have secrets.
We both have different issues.
We both will find what our limits are.
My name is Echo Emerson.
Hello! Today, I'm Echo from Pushing the Limits!
Book: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits
Book Standing: Book 1
Setting: Kentucky (modern day)
POV: first person, by Echo and Noah
Genre: YA romance, contemporary
Book reading: first time
Favorite line: "Either I'd solved all my problems or I'd created a whole new set of them. It didn't matter. I was done living like a coward. It was time to be strong."
Rating: 4 stars
This was another book recommended to me by my good friend Bridget. Thank you!
Okay, I've told you guys that I'm not really a huge contemporary reader. The repetition of the whole good-girl-dates-bad-boy-and-lo-and-behold-it-somehow-works-either-through-peer-pressure-or-because-they-don't-have-any-two-living-brain-cells-to-say-no sometimes drives me crazy. Yes, that might be partially influenced by Grease. Bottom line is that I'm not a huge contemporary fan because a) it's too realistic b) those happily-ever-afters only star the rich and popular girls. Am I thinking of a book or two in particular? Maybe.
This is not that kind of book. And thank god.
In this book, we have Echo and Noah. Yes, we start off with the whole she's-a-good-girl-and-he's-a-bad-boy-and-there's-no-way-it's-going-to-work-out-but-being-readers-we-know-it-will kind of thing, but immediately, we find out that there both are dealing with issues. And these aren't your normal issues found in contemporary books. No, these are legit serious issues. Issues that take both a mental and physical toll on the characters. Extremes that readers can relate to. It's not one of those books where the big secret is something simple and one-sided, like someone is depressed or is cheating. It's a lot deeper than those simple issues.
Both Echo and Noah have their own arcs. Echo's is about memory, truth, and forgiveness, whereas Noah's is about love, acceptance, and sacrifice. And they both parallel each other, in a way. Especially since they agree to help each other out in the beginning...sort of like a symbiotic relationship, in a way. Which kind of grows more into a love interest thing.
Rest is spoilery. Sorry about that.
Let's talk about Echo first. No memory of the night her mother tried to do a mother-daughter suicide, but knowing that it happened and that she came out with scars on her wrists? That's big. Like, life-threatenging big. No one will outright tell her about the events that went down, because she might have a breakdown. But it's brave of Echo to want to find the answers regardless, even when those events are so horrific that her mind has repressed it. Because who wants to remember that? Your mother, the one person you should always be able to turn to, tried to kill you? Not your typical high-school issue.
Noah. Yes, he has some rather questionable hobbies. And his language could be cleaned up a little. But overall, you have to admire his determinism to help his brothers. He loves them so much, and it really shows. Noah isn't some low-life stoner who doesn't care about the world or himself. He knows that if he's going to take custody of his brothers, he's going to have to clean himself up. And that's exactly what he does. No struggle, nothing. That's what a big brother should be like, someone who's willingly to easily give up anything for his siblings. And when he final gives up pursuing custody of his little brothers, because he realizes that he can't give them everything? That's a hard hit. It's not an easy decision to make, for sure. But he made it, because he loves his brothers so much.
The thing both Echo and Noah crave is "normal." It's referenced a lot in the book: how Echo wants to go back to the time before she lost her social status and friends, and how Noah wants to go back to the time his entire family was alive and together. They all just want things to be how they used to be, before all the life-shattering changes came into play. And I can understand that. We all have days when we just want things to go back to before. But life is about changes, and how we cope with them.
What I found hilarious was Echo's father's attempted method at "helping" Echo get back to "normal": by being a control freak. Pressuring her to ace her tests, telling her to retake any tests that don't meet his standards, cutting her off from art so that she can study to be a business student, making her apply to more business schools than necessary, and on and on. There's a line he says: "Besides, this family does not accept 'above average.' My daughter will excel." My immediate response wasn't a relatively positive one. What kind of father does that to his daughter? I mean, yes, he wronged her when that night Echo's mother tried to kill her, but in an attempt to put Echo back together, he went to the controlling aspect side. By "forcing" her to focus on normal things, maybe it would "force" Echo to go back to "normal." Is that really the way to go? The answer: no. Sure, it might work on the outside, but on the inside, Echo would still be an emotional mess. That is not how to put someone together. You can't force mentality back into someone. Just no. Controlling every bloody aspect of someone's life in order to glue their life together isn't how one returns to "normal."
Love, on the other hand, can. Which might be one of the driving forces behind this story completely. Or the main force. Love isn't control. Love is support. Love is what is between Echo and Noah. Love is what makes them cute and adorable. There's another part where Noah asks why Echo has no jacket, and she immediately responds that maybe she likes his jacket. Noah's reply? "Congratulations, it's yours." BAM. The story had me from there. Like I said, I'm a reluctant sucker for things like these.
I really loved the relationship between Noah, Beth, and Isaiah. They're more or less foster siblings, and together, they are each other's family. Their only family. And it's sweet how they all look out for one another, how they stand up for each other, and how they come around for each other. I'm glad that both Beth and Isaiah get their stories told in later books, because it means that ultimately, they all each get their happy endings.
And yes, I might be small sucker for happy endings.