Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA-Mature/New Adult
“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.
So wrong for each other…and yet so right.
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. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And 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 can declare it now. Pushing the Limits will make my top ten books of 2012. It had everything I want in a great book: characters I believed in, plotlines I needed to know more about, relationships I cared about and writing that made me forget I’m supposed to be doing anything except being buried in the story, racing to that end mark on my Kindle that I was hoping never happened. I’m stealing Cait’s line: This. Book. ROCKED.
On the surface, Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins look like they couldn’t be more different. She comes from an upper-middle class home, is a classic over-achiever and tries to fly under the radar. Noah’s been stuck in the foster care system for years and is currently living in the basement of a crappy home with a family that couldn’t care less about him. He’s lost interest in sports and his grades and he has a reputation as the master of the one night stand. The unlikely pair end up forced together when the school’s counselor that they’ve both been ordered to see decides that Echo should tutor Noah.
They become close over the restoration of Echo’s late brother’s car and eventually start trading small parts of their pasts and the reasons they’re seeing the school counselor. Both Echo and Noah are trying to find their “new normal” (quotes because that’s what they call it) after their lives were changed. The romance between them is tested by both of their groups of friends and each other, once Echo starts remembering what happened to her and Noah gets aggressive with his plans for his little brothers who are also in foster care.
Sometimes the story is full of so much drama, it’s painful. As Echo is piecing together what happened that night with her mother, Noah is in a panic over his brothers’ situation. I’m a crier when I read and at some places in the story I was too breathless by what Echo and Noah were going through to even think about it. When things seemed hopeless, there would be sweet moments between the two or the possibility that maybe the looming ending wasn’t quite as bad as it looked like it was going to be, then I’d get slammed back into the story. It hurt, it was awesome and I wanted it to keep going. I had my Kleenex ready and I was prepared to use them.
The story was told in alternating POVs (which I love) and I was so glad to be able to be in Echo’s head because I really loved her. She was a former “in” girl, popular until she suddenly went away last year. Now there are rumors flying, she’s not with her hot jock boyfriend anymore, her best friend, the head cheerleader, publicly snubbed her and there’s a restraining order out against her mother that her dad won’t tell her about. Her arms are covered with scars but she doesn’t remember how she got them, which was yet another thing her dad is keeping from her. Echo was brave so many times with Noah at school, giving the figurative finger to the popular kids even though she’d been trying to fit in again and trusting both Noah and Mrs. Collins, the counselor to help her. It was heartbreaking to start off with Echo’s brother as a Marine killed in action, but I liked that he was remembered often by her and was an important part of the story. If there was anything I didn’t understand about Echo that felt odd in the story, it was her ability to forgive certain people quickly.
I’m sure Noah will make quite a few “Book Boyfriend” lists. He’s got the sexy bad boy thing down pat, at least in public. In private, he’s a guy that had his life shattered by an accident that put him and his two little brothers in foster care. He got sent to a series of rotten places that gave him a rotten record as far as CPS was concerned and landed him in Mrs. Collins’ office for counseling. Noah may love and leave girls but he is intensely loyal to his friends and when Echo comes along, protective. His relationship with his two younger brothers was one of the things that made me cry more than once. He loved them so fiercely it was agonizing to see him struggle with the situation all of them were in. There may have been a tiny bit of insta-love or at least insta-rawr on Noah’s part with Echo. He got mushy about her a little sooner than I’d expect a guy like him normally would but I mostly forgave it because the story was so intense that it seemed everything would be more emotional.
I had mixed feelings about the supporting characters. I liked Noah’s friend Isaiah and Echo’s friends Lila and Natalie. I loved to hate Noah’s friend Beth, Echo’s frenemy Grace and her ex-boyfriend Luke. Beth was such a mess, loved by Isaiah, a good friend to Noah mostly and so awful to Echo that I can’t wait to read her upcoming book by McGarry. Mrs. Collins seemed a little unrealistic – I can’t imagine any kind of counselor with any credentials having the jurisdictional reach she did. She seemed like a fairy godmother a lot. I don’t think I was supposed to love him, but I think the author went a little too far in making Echo’s dad horrible. I can’t think of anything he did that was good for or to her except extending her curfew a few times. He rubbed me wrong and don’t even get me started on his wife, the ex-nanny. No.
My Summary: The official synopsis doesn’t hint at the emotional depth of the story so I hope the book gets all of the advance hype from reviews it deserves. In addition to that top ten list, this can go on the list of “most Kleenex used in the last two chapters of.”