Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
4/5 stars
HarlequinTeen, 2012
409 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was so excited to pick this book up! Three main reasons for that: 1. Lots of buzz from other bloggers including those who don't normally read much contemporary; 2. the fact that I do read a good amount of contemporary and have a special soft spot for it; and 3. I have read and loved a lot of HarlequinTeen books lately and I think they are just hitting it out of the ballpark with their lists of books. But I was also nervous because it seems like heavily hyped books tend to let me down...what would be the case for Pushing the Limits?

As it turns out, I am not one of the people who will gush over this book: not because it was bad or because I didn't like it. It has a lot of good points and I am comfortable giving it four stars. But it is very much not my kind of story. There is drama on top of drama on top of more drama with little humor to lighten the plot and lift my spirits.

I mean, so much drama! One of our narrators (did I mention this was dually narrated between the lead characters? That was a definite plus for me-I love multiple narrators!) is Echo, former popular girl who lost her status following the news of the death of her brother in Afghanistan and then a night she can't remember but that resulted in serious scars on her arms and a restraining order against her mother. The other narrator is bad boy Noah, orphan, druggie, and foster kid who is trying to fight the system to gain custody of his two younger brothers.

Now that is a lot to take in, right? But it's only a snippet of the drama these two go through. Every time I thought they might catch a break, something else had to break. It added layers and ratcheted up the intensity of their circumstances but it ended up feeling too much for me. I know some people love these melodramatic romantic contemporaries but I'm not one of those people. If you are that kind of person, then I definitely recommend this for you!

Another thing is that while I liked the two narrators, I didn't love them. My love is reserved for supporting characters Mrs. Collins, the slightly off-beat school psychiatrist who just might be an adult they can trust; Isaiah and Beth, Noah's two friends who have been as battered by the foster care system as him; and Lila, a true friend to Echo. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this reading experience ended up being the sneak peek at a companion novel following Beth due in 2013; I can't wait for that!

Overall: A strong contemporary if heavy on the drama and light on the comedy.

Cover: Love Echo's hair-very true to the story. Personally I don't think the cover is very dynamic but it suggests a contemporary love story.


  1. i was thinking of buying this book because of all the great reviews too now i have to think twice. i prefer YA contemps equal drama and lighter moments. if it's too heavy on the drama it's hard for me to keep reading.

  2. Still not sure if I want to read this. I don't know if I need any more drama in my life right now!

  3. Oh my I think you're one of the first bloggers I've seen who isn't gushing their pants off! :P But I'm glad to hear that you still liked it. I LOVE Contemporaries! I've been getting really into them lately. Which is surprising cause I never really considered myself a contemporary type of person. Harlequin's books have been just amazing recently. They are doing such a great job!! I'm getting my review copy of Alice in Zombieland, and I can't wait for it to arrive!!! ILY Harlequin!! <333 Great review. :)

  4. I liked this book a lot. I read it during my contemporary month, which was when I pretty much started reading contemporaries. In this one, I think I found my niche, which is not too over-the-top issues, but not too over-the-top romance either. I found this one to be a issues-contemp AND romance-contemp, and that's why I think I gushed about it so much. Plus I found it to be very much true to the HarlequinTeen label and they are good for putting out stuff that is solid to their trademark, I think.

    I agree with you about Ms. Collins - she is a fantastic supporting character. I'll snatch up Beth's story as soon as I can get my grubby paws on it, but I won't lie: I'll be missing that the story doesn't focus on Echo and Noah. I got very attached.

    Great review! Loved reading your thoughts.


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