Friday 28 December 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Mira Ink
Released: 31st July
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

'The worst type of crying wasn't the kind that everyone else could see - the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes.  No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it.  A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that still survived.  For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.
"Come here, baby."  And with my words, Echo leaned into me: soft, pliant, broken.  "You're not alone," I whispered into her hair as I cradled her in my arms.  "You're not alone, because you have me."  And I love you, more than you could ever know.'

I sit here now, writing this, not bouncing and giddy with excitement, but quiet, stunned, astounded by the impact of the book that currently sits on the floor next to me.  It looks so innocent with its grey cover and the faces of Noah and Echo.  It pretends to be just a book, nothing more than a few hundred typed-up pages bound together.  Nothing more than paper and ink.  And yet, when you open it up to the first page, only seconds go by before that pretence is shrugged off and you become ensnared in world that, pretty soon, you have no desire to leave.

The story is simple.  Echo has scars on her arms from a night that she can't remember.  Overnight she turned from popular to freak.  Her father is a controlling tyrant and her stepmother's due to have a baby.  Anyone who knows anything refuses to tell her what happened. Noah is in foster care, separated from his brothers.  His parents are dead.  He'll do whatever it takes to get his brothers back.  Both of them want normal.  Both agree to help the other.  What neither of them count on is falling in love.

It sounds straightforward and yet it's anything but.  McGarry brings to life a world centred around two people who are broken beyond belief.  My heart bleeds for them both.  With everything that's happened to them in their lives they're left with almost no-one they can trust; the whole time all I wanted was to be able to cross the barrier between reality and fiction, look them in the eye and say, 'I'm here for you.'  I wanted to be there for them, to be one more person they could count on.  And that right there sums up what makes this author so amazing.  She has the ability to take two fictional characters and their lives, and make it all so real.  This reaction, this sense of wanting to support the characters, is something I've felt with few books, and never so strong.

Echo undergoes a massive transformation in the book, and the unfolding of it is both clear and a joy to see.  She flourishes from being this girl who avoids confrontation into someone who stands up for herself and goes after the life she deserves.  Her pain and frustration cut into me, yet her father remained oblivious.  Honestly, this man made me so angry.  All he did was keep Echo on a leash.  He didn't even try to understand what she must be going through and how she must feel.  Any love or affection was focused on her stepmother and the baby, meaning that Echo always came second place.  When I found out the whole truth of what happened the night Echo got her scars...I couldn't believe it.  Really I thought that the ending was too easy on them.  Echo went through so much and they barely suffered.  Her actual mother, too, was sadly pathetic.  Somehow Echo managed to be more than this despite her family: she still had strength, and this courage contintued to grow the whole way through.  Basically her entire character, everything she felt, everything she went broke my heart.

Noah Hutchins only filled me with more grief, more pain...more love.  I suppose when you look at him on the surface, he appears to be a bad-boy.  But he's really not.  And I'm not going to call him one.  This is a guy who, for most of his life, has only known pain and betrayal.  All he wants out of life is for his family to be back together.  I can't tell you how moving it was to watch him fight for his brothers, to see the relationship he had with them.  And like Echo, he grows tremendously.  He's intelligent, fierce, he has integrity; so many qualities which very few people outside of Echo see.  As for the relationship between them, it was...incredible.  The pacing of it was very well done and the chemistry between them was there in heaps.  They really do seem to complete one another, and help each other in ways no-one else ever could.  Theirs is the most complex, heart-breaking, heart-warming of relationships.

Somehow I've managed to write a coherent review, yet none of these words are adequate enough to describe how much I loved this book; none of them are adequate enough to fully explain what it is that makes this book so incredible.  Pushing the Limits honestly made a toy of my heart: it broke it, ripped it, glued the pieces back together, overfilled it with emotion, broke it again.  A book like that needs to be experienced more than just told about.  You need to fall in love with Echo and Noah for yourself; you need to love Isaiah, smile at Mrs Collins, hate Echo's father.  Only then will you see why this has succeeded in becoming my absolute favourite read of 2012, and one that will never leave either my head or my heart.


  1. Amazing review, Aa'Ishah! I really enjoyed this one as well and was SO surprised by how deep this one way. I just assumed it would be a cheesy romance, but it was beautiful. You wrote a fantastic review for this one and I definitely think you did justice to the novel completely. :)

  2. This is SUCH a beautiful review Aa'Ishah! This book surprised me completely. I couldn't believe the amount of depth and realisticness that Katie McGarry packed into this book. You're totally right, this book looks so innocent and simple, yet it is so much more. Honestly, it's beautiful, and this book so unexpectedly moved me as well. I fell in love with both Echo and Noah, and my heart ached for them both. I loved how they grew so much in the book, and how they managed to beat the odds over and over again.

    This book is among the few books that have changed me as a person, and it is most definitely in my Top 10 of this year, something I'd never thought I'd say about a contemporary, since I'm a firm urban fantasy/paranormal type gal. But Katie McGarry managed to spin a heart-aching and wonderful tale.

    Fantastic review Aa'Ishah! We can only hope that the companion novel will be as good. ;)

  3. YES!!! You've finally read Pushing the Limits! I agree with a lot of what you said. It's so much more than a few hundred pages and the characters really touched my heart too. Everything felt so real. I adored both Echo and Noah. I felt so sorry for Echo, with her selfish father and what with her always coming second. And Noah <333 I LOVE that boy so frickin' much. And their relationship was a joy to read about - a perfect example for teens.

    Thank you for the amazing review, Aa'Ishah <3

  4. I haven't read this book yet but now that I've read your review, I think I'll LOVE this story. Fabulous review!

  5. I'm so excited to read this one! I won a copy and am dying to start it.

  6. Marvelous review, Aa'Ishah dear. :) You described this book so beautifully that I even feel slightly guilty for not loving (or liking, really) this book as much as you and other readers did. "My heart bleeds for them both." *sigh* I love that, and I love the feeling of when a book is so masterfully crafted that it can produce such strong feelings in you.

  7. i read the review very fast because i have not read this one yet. gr8 review

  8. Okay, your review makes me want to slam my head into something. Wow. That sounds bad. It makes me want to slam my head into something because I HAVEN'T READ THIS BOOK! D: I mean, I kind of have. I've read, like, the first 200 pages. But your GORGEOUS review makes me want to finish it NOW. I think I know what I'll be doing tonight... Noah and Echo are both so broken, and I love seeing them mend together. But the story was a bit too dark for me at the time. I was in the mood for a light romance, and I wasn't finding that. Obviously! Haha. But now, I'm ready for this book. I hope I love it as much as you do. What a beautiful review, Aa'Ishah! :)

  9. Oh you did a brilliant job with this review Aa'Ishah, I normally dread writing reviews for books that I absolutely adored as I always think that I'll be gushing all the time! But you nailed your passion and enthusiasm for this book! I bet you can't wait for the next book from McGarry! Have you seen the cover!! ;)

    1. Haha, I love the cover! :D But this thing with Ryan...what's that all about??

  10. What a beautiful review, Aa'Ishah!

    I loved this book too but I could never put into words how much it affected me as well as you did. I love the characters in this book. (But I love Noah's brothers the most. Ah, I sound like a pedobear)I love their growth. But most of all, I love the complexity of their story.

    Again, wonderfully written review, Aa'Ishah! :D

  11. I LOVED this book! I'm so glad you enjoyed it as well :)
    Great review!

  12. Excellent review Aa'Ishah! I basically wrote a novella of a comment on your goodreads review, lol, so I won't bore you with anymore here. :)

  13. I think you summed this up perfectly. This is exactly how I felt when reading it and you hit the nail on the head!

    I have to say I think your review was pretty awesome. And you've made me want to re-read this book again and get my own physical copy. Darn it.

    Lovely review!


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