{Review and Giveaway} PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry

Stay tuned after today's review at the bottom of this post to enter to win your own copy of the buzzworthy PUSHING THE LIMITS!  Today may be my birthday, but HarlequinTeen and I are gifting one of you with this incredible, hard-hitting novel!

Also, did you know there's mythology in PUSHING THE LIMITS?  It's true!
Check out this week's Mythological Mondays post!

Another cool thing?  Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and at The Bewitched Bookworms have put together a PUSHING THE LIMITS Read-Along from July 31st to August 28th, including a live Twitter chat with author Katie McGarry!  
Click here for more information!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

"MY FATHER IS A CONTROL FREAK, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead, and my mother has...well...issues. How do you think I'm doing?"

(Page 1, US hardcover edition)

While I've always been more of a fan of fantasy than I have contemporary, especially teen contemporary now that I'm no longer a teen, I've been trying to read more in this genre.  PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry has been garnering huge amounts of advance buzz this summer, the like of which I haven't seen since Stephanie Perkins released ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.  It took me a long time to pick up ANNA because I didn't like the cover or the title and, let's face it, I thought it was pure romance, which I really don't read.  But it was devastatingly good and stuck with me long after the book ended because the character development was so superb.  PUSHING THE LIMITS also has a very romantic cover, so I overlooked the book when I first saw it online and I ignored the initial buzz.  I read an interview that another blogger had done with McGarry and became intrigued.  When publisher HarlequinTeen offered me a review copy and a giveaway copy, I jumped at the chance to see the book everyone is talking about.  I'm not going to make the mistake I did with ANNA and judge this book by its cover.

I'm so glad I read this.  As soon as the book arrived, I dropped what I was reading (Which turned into a DNF anyway, so I'm glad I dropped it...*cough*) to pick up PUSHING THE LIMITS and I devoured it.  It was my day off, so I had plenty of time to read, and I stayed up late to finish.  It was that good.  Like the way Perkins developed characters I became enamored with when reading ANNA, so too did McGarry.  Plus, PUSHING THE LIMITS is an issues book.  Personally, I love books full of hard-hitting issues because they keep my attention more than a straight-forward romance ever could.  Books with issues are the sort of contemporary novels I love best.

Ignore the deceptively romantic cover.  All of that romance came at a high price.  Told in alternating points of view between main characters Echo and Noah, both characters are incredibly damaged at the novel's start.  Echo's older brother died in Afghanistan, which was a huge blow to her family.  Her mother, who already suffered from mental illness, did something devastating, something that left scars on Echo despite the fact that her mind has repressed the memory.  Noah, on the other hand, is an orphan.  His parents died in a tragic house fire and his two younger brothers have been taken away from him and put into separate foster housing.  Both Echo and Noah had so much taken from them and have gone through so much ever since their respective tragedies.  Despite being from different paths in life, they find one another and learn how to heal, how to let go, how to move on, how to embrace the future and leave the past behind.  The journey these two embark on is incredible and by the novel's end, both have come so far.

It's hard to describe PUSHING THE LIMITS without giving things away.  All I can say is that McGarry, despite this being her debut novel, is a pro at layering and building up the development of her characters.  Their world is real, and it's so easy for readers to get lost in the journey.  The book has very raw, realistic emotions reminiscent of teen contemporary queen Simone Elkeles, who actually has a blurb on the dust jacket of PUSHING THE LIMITS.  While most of McGarry's secondary characters fall to the wayside (it isn't, after all, their story), it's interesting to see that she'll focus on one of these characters in the 2013 release of her next novel, DARE YOU TO.  While the character isn't one I necessarily gravitated to the first time around, it will be interesting to see how McGarry gets into her psyche and whether or not she can make me care the way she did when I read about Echo and Noah.  I'll willing to take that chance and find out.  Are you?
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The cover WITHOUT the dust jacket.
Image from Katie McGarry's blog b/c I'm LAZY, lol.
If I had seen this cover on the shelf and knew nothing about the book, I probably wouldn't have picked up PUSHING THE LIMITS.  The cover looks very light, and there are many YA contemporary novels with couples against a locker, so it doesn't really stand out.  Most recently, KEEP HOLDING ON by Susane Colasanti comes to mind, and this book also has a misleading cover since it's full of hard issues.

At the same time, the romance that builds between the two main characters is an important part of the story and the character development, so I can see why they went this route.  Plus, the cover was designed with darker, grittier colors and a punch of silver, so the coloring stands out.  I love that the female model has curly red hair like Echo does, too.  Win!

The interior of the design is fabulous.  If you take off the dust jacket, you see a full locker-sized image of the cover that spans the front cover, spine, and back cover.  Each chapter alternates between Echo's and Noah's POVs, and each character has a unique font well-suited for his/her personality:

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Authors: Katie McGarry
Release Date: Out July 30, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Received: Received for Review

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.


  1. Happy Birthday! Pushing the Limits sure does sound fabulous. I've seen nothing but good reviews this whole week! I'm in the UK and can't enter the competition, but wish everyone who is entering the best of luck!


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