Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

This book is about a boy who was put into a series of bad foster homes after the death of his parents, named Noah. He is fighting to gain custody of his two younger brothers, who were separated from him when they were put into the foster care system. Echo has agreed to tutor him in order to get money to fix her brother’s car in her brother’s memory. She survived a vicious event, which she has no memory of, but has the scars to prove it happened. These two broken people come together, and you can guess what happens next.

I did not read this book for its originality. This is, in its most basic terms, a boy-meets-girl story, with a mix in of girl-and-boy-have-issues story. Like I said, there are plenty others out there almost exactly like it, when you look at it that way. I did read this book, because I felt like reading a heart-wrenching romance novel. This book did not disappoint.

What this book lacked in originality, it made up for with characters. At first, I found Echo a little annoying, and Noah to be a bit of a jerk. However, after I read more than the first two chapters, I got really into the characters. I learned that not only is Echo damaged, but she is also strong, resilient, and mostly courageous, when it is not outside the law. I learned that Noah is, essentially, the dream boy: funny, caring, flirtatious, somewhat of a bad boy, and just absolutely perfect (when I think of Noah, the song “If You Told Me To” by Hunter Hayes comes to mind). And, despite the fact that he almost has no flaws, if you don’t count how incredibly stubborn he is and his inability to make fantastic life choices (which are not big in his case, and I actually liked the fact that he was stubborn, although there were definitely times where his choices really frustrated me), I fell in love with his character. I found myself wondering why Noah didn’t exist in real life. I also loved Noah’s friends, Beth and Isaiah, flaws and all. They seemed like actual people, whom if I had met in real life, I would have wanted to become friends with. Echo’s friends, not so much, with the exception of her best friend, Lila, who seemed to be the only genuine friend she had, and I sort of just tolerated Lila. I didn’t have any real likes or dislikes towards her; she just was.

Aside from the characters, the novel itself was very heart-wrenching (which I believe I mentioned earlier). I found myself laughing along with the characters, and almost crying when they broke down. There were times I wanted to shield them from the pain, and tell them, “No, baby, you’re not ready for that,” before I realized that no, they are not actual people, they are fiction, Liv stop what are you doing, you can’t shield them from the stuff that’s going to happen because it’ll happen whether you want it to or not.

One of the great things about this book is that it made me feel that attachment to the characters; it wasn’t just another boy-meets-girl-and-something-tragic-happens, or some drama. Because not only could the characters stand independent of one another, but they knew what they want and they went for it. And in the end, the tragedy (I will not spoil it here, so you should read the book), whatever that may be, made me even more emotional than it would have if the characters had been so wrapped up in each other that they couldn’t figure out what they themselves wanted out of life. The fact that this book was different, and made the characters separate from their romance, was one of the things that made me fall in love with the story.

I do not recommend this book for anyone under the age of 13. It does have drugs, alcohol, some violence, and heavy mention of sex (nothing detailed, it’s just talked about often). I do recommend this for anyone who loves romances, teen romances, or is craving some kind of romance, and doesn’t care what kind it is. I really liked this book. And while some of the time I am a bit cynical when it comes to teen romance novels (I am constantly yelling at the book that “they can’t possibly know what love is, they’re only in high school,” and my books’ margins are generally filled with comments on how annoying the protagonist or main love interest is because they can’t get a guy to like them when there are four guys falling all over them), I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book. I still made my cynical comments, but they were less (somewhat) about the main characters, and more about secondary characters.

Speaking of, I forgot to mention one thing: if you read this book, watch out for a character named Luke. I can honestly say that I hated him more than I hated Joffrey, and that’s saying a lot. He’s just really, not a love-able character. (Actually, I take that back. Joffrey was much more detestable, and I have no idea what I was thinking comparing Luke to such an evil person. I’m going to get off topic if I explain my hatred for Joffrey, but just know that to even come close to comparison, Luke has to be pretty despicable, and the truth is he’s not that loathsome. I just really, really, REALLY, did not like him).