Book Review: Pushing the Limits (Of My Bedtime) by/with Katie McGarry

How Excited Was I to Read Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry? 8/10. It’s been getting great buzz. But this is normally more in line with my sister’s reads I think. (But I sort of downloaded it, oops!)

How Excited Am I Now? 8/10. There were a lot of things I really liked about this book. Was it perfect? No, of course not. Pretty darn good debut author offering? Totally.

Book Jacket: “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.

Review: Pushing the Limits is all about the romance. But for me, the strength of Katie McGarry’s novel lay in the two main characters’ individual story-lines. So while I felt that their relationship was sometimes too intense, not to mention moving way too fast, I liked the characters enough on their own that I was able to overlook that point. Plus, they were both forced to become too old too fast thanks to circumstances beyond their control. Maybe the rest just followed naturally?

Echo is named after the nymph from Greek mythology. I have to get that out there immediately because it sounds exactly like a name pulled from any number of dystopian novels that are running around right now. But there’s much more rhyme and reason to the name here. She is struggling with the past – specifically, an incident that she can’t remember, but which left her scarred and mentally fragile. Enter super-wonderful guidance counselor and brooding attractive loner dude to the rescue.

Noah’s got all sorts of problems too. He’s part of the foster care system, but more importantly, so are his little brothers. He’s completely obsessed with getting them out. I won’t spoil his storyline too much, but he is definitely the character who changes the most over the course of the book, and in a good way. I think authors are sometimes wary of writing a book around people coming to accept things the way that they are. It doesn’t provide for too much action. It’s not all that uplifting. But here, Noah’s inner maturation is great. Both he and Echo learned to pick up their heads and look around them, even when they had every justification in the world for continuing to shut the world out. Both their pasts and their current problems were handled incredibly well – McGarry did a wonderful job conveying their emotions – the pain, but especially confusion.

Oh, and Noah and Echo are crazy attracted to each other. The idea that they would hatch a plan to try to steal their school files from the guidance counselor’s office was a clever way to put them together (with a dash of tutoring on the side, of course). Don’t worry, I’m not giving anything away. Some of the book’s plot developments felt obvious to me, some truly surprised me. The end was more heart breaking than I had anticipated. But overall it was a good read – I stayed up way too late to finish it!

Sexual Tension: Pushing the Limits was oozing sexual tension from every page. But that wasn’t my favorite part. I have a hard type buying into the we’ll be together foreverness of one month of high school dating. Others totally love the intense love story parts, so if that is what you are looking for, this is the book for you! Major (silly) problem for me: why, oh why, did he have to use the endearment “baby” all the time? My totally wonderful old roommate used to always call his girlfriend that too. It totally killed me. Not my favorite. Which meant towards the end of the book I was cringing every couple pages. But things normalized eventually.

Re-Readability: Hmm. Probably low for me, but higher for others. I’m taking the Fifth here.

Recommended For: People looking for a more serious high school setting – and one that has lots of romance.

If You Liked This Book You Should Also Check Out: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. (And the two sequels). Different issues, similar tone.

Note: I received an ARC of this book from Harlequin Teen via Netgalley. The book will be released July 31, 2012!