Not even Echo Emerson knows what happened the night she went from being a popular girl with a jock boyfriend to an outsider with scars on her arms. All Echo wants is for things to be normal again. When Noah Hutchins, the school’s resident bad boy, ends up in her life, she finds her world being turned upside down. Though on the surface they don’t have anything in common the two find a solace in one another and begin to work through their respective pasts.
Katie McGarry’s romance-psychological drama novel aimed at teens has plenty of appeal factors: sympathetic characters, a compelling plot, and some steamy make-out sessions that will hook readers. In addition to all this, McGarry’s novel is frequently quite compelling, and readers will be turning pages as they try to guess at what has happened and what will happen. The novel is clever in that it uses the romance as a means to explore the deeper issues relevant to its characters. Many readers will find this irresistible.
That’s not to say the novel is without its faults, though. McGarry’s novel is way too long and could have excised a great deal of the middle section of the book. Even ignoring this, the novel has a tendency to get a little purple with its prose. Noah, in particular, is prone to referring to Echo as his muse, and it starts to get a little weird. Despite these things, however, the novel remains a fairly strong debut.
The novel deals with some heavy topics, including abuse, foster care, and bi-polar disorder. Particularly well done are the alternating voices of Echo and Noah, whose narrations remain fairly distinct throughout. There’s some satisfying things at the end of the novel, but everything doesn’t end too neatly, which means readers who like their stories a little darker should walk away fairly satisfied.
A compelling romance with some psychological twists. Recommended for fans of Simone Elkeles. Read for the Cybils Round 1 Panel.
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. Harlequin Teen: 2012. Library copy.