Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on 31 July 2012
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Source: Kindle Purchase
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Echo is the school freak. She went from being little miss popular to being the girl who hid during lunch, wearing longsleaved sweaters even just after summer break. Some of her friends refused to be seen with her in public, and she was quite happy to stay apart from everybody else. Until the new school therapist didn't really give her that option anymore.
Noah is the sexy badboy, with a reputation to make a girl blush just for thinking about him. He's known as a stoner who is failing senior-year - a good-for-nothing who doesn't really care what everybody else thinks of him. Then, the new school therapist tells him he has to see a tutor several times per weeek to get his grades up.
Pushing the Limits is the kind of book that makes me feel both lucky and happy I’m a reader! I was totally immersed in the story from the first sentence, and it only kept getting better and better! I fell in love with both Echo and Noah from the very start, and they never ceased to amaze me! These two broken teens, struggling with demons from their past, with trying to reclaim normal, had never talked to each other before they were forced to work together. They both needed something the other could give, but none of them were giving freely at first.
Pushing the Limits really is a story about just that – pushing limits, giving the best of oneself, and trying to hash out a better life than what faith has been dealing so far. Echo is seemingly doing better, but she is still hiding a lot of secrets, both from her therapist and from her friends. The one thing that makes everything difficult for her is that she just can’t remember the day that completely changed her life. She is, however, trying her best to remember, even if the truth scares her almost as much as not remembering does.
Noah is kind of an outcast in school. He’s in foster care, is very angry, and only wants to smoke weed to forget how much life can suck. He used to be a brilliant student, and also a good football player. Until that night, when a fire took both of his parents’ lives, and he was separated from his little brothers. On top of living in different foster homes, most of them really bad, he also carries a big secret, one that he has no idea could help both himself and his brothers if only he dared to trust Mrs. Collins enough to share it with her.
I loved how true some of the friendships in Pushing the Limits are! Noah has Beth and Isaiah on his side, and they really have each others’ backs. Echo has Lila, and sometimes, Grace. But Grace won’t be her friend in public – because social status is more important than real friendship, and real feelings. When Echo starts to tutor Noah, they really don’t get off on a good foot. They don’t really like each other, merely based on the assumptions they make. As they start to get to know each other, though, they both realize the other has a lot more depth than what is plain to the world.
Echo and Noah both have scars. Physical scars, and the scars that are deep in the soul. Without noticing it, they grow close, start to trust each other, and decide to try to help each other with the most difficult parts of their pasts. The way their relationship grows from antagonistic to friendship to more is beautifully done, and I was truly wowed several times while reading. They have both been let down before, either by the system, or by people they trusted, so it takes a while for them to open up. When they do, what they find, both about themselves and each other is mesmerizing.
The writing in Pushing the Limits is in present tense, and it made me feel really close to both Echo and Noah because of it. Also, each chapter changes between Echo’s and Noah’s point of view, which makes the reader privy to thing the characters don’t know everything about. It made me want to cheer them both on – because in some ways, they were really tugging in the same direction, although they thought they weren’t.
Pushing the Limits is also a story about acceptance. How hard life can be in that awkward period that late teens often feel like they’re in. Acceptance of oneself, of others, and stepping back to try to not judge other people was one of the issues that was being dealt with. It is also a story about how the truth really can set you free. Even when truth hurts, it is better than a lie. And when you can accept the truth, with all it’s ugliness, you are ready to take on life, to grab it with both hands and move forward.
I want to scream my love for Pushing the Limits from the rooftops! It’s beautiful! It’s difficult! I cried. I laughed. I felt like I was with Noah and Echo every step of their difficult path.
Her lips flinched into an almost smile and I almost had an ounce of respect for her.
For the apology or the curl, I had no idea and wasn’t going to ask. My heart pounded in tune with thrash metal. We’d read about sirens in English this fall; Greek mythology bullshit about women so beautiful, their voices so enchanting, that men did anything for them. Turned out that mythology crap was real because every time I saw her, I lost my mind.
My insides had melted when Noah produced his wicked grin and gazed at me like I was naked. Luke used to give me butterflies. Noah spawned mutant pterodactyls.
Echo twirled her pool cue like a warrior going into battle, never once taking her eyes off the cue ball. She leaned over the table. I focused on her tight ass. My siren ate me alive with every movement. As she took aim, she no longer resembled the fragile girl at school, but a sniper.
He’d shared his hamburger with me and made me laugh. Not polite laugh. Not fake laugh. Like laugh so loud people stare at you.
“You really fucked this up, Einstein.” Beth tossed her tray full of food on the table. “You hate her,” I mumbled. “She grew on me. Kind of like moss.”