Pushing the Limits  - Katie McGarry

I bough Pushing the Limits awhile ago and have kept meaning to read it but other things just kept getting in the way. I am sorry it took me so long to get to this as I was really quite blown away by the story. 

This novel is told in dual first-person narrative from the perspectives of two very different teens. Echo Emerson, former popular girl turned social outcast, is a girl hiding terrible secrets. Secrets that she cannot quite remember. A night two years ago left her wrists and arms terribly scarred. Echo has no memory of what happened, only that no her father and step-mother will not broach the topic with her and there is a restraining order against her mother. Echo is also still grieving the loss of her older brother who was killed whilst serving in Afghanistan. Echo retreated into her own world and pulled away from her friends. The kids at school all stare at 'the freak'. Her best friend Lila is always trying to re-engage her into the social circle she used to belong to, but Echo would rather hide away, nursing her hurts. 

Noah Hutchins is the school bad-boy. A leather-clad, tattooed womanizer who regularly drinks and takes drugs, he is Echo's opposite in many ways. Yet Noah is also hiding a tragic past. His parents died in a fire several years ago. Noah was put into foster care and split up from his two younger brothers. Noah is determined that when he graduates from high school he is going to sue for custody of his younger siblings. They have been fostered with a family and Noah has been granted supervised visits, but Noah just knows that he needs to be the one to care for them - he has experienced the rough side of the foster care system and will not let them suffer as he has.

Noah did not count on meeting a girl like Echo and the two are forced to spend time together when their shared school therapist arranges for Echo to tutor Noah, whose grades have been slipping. Although Noah is resistant, he realizes if he hopes to have any chance to get custody he will need to show that he has gotten his life turned around. Echo and Noah soon realize that they have more in common than they think and feelings begin to develop between them. They could perhaps be the key to each other's salvation but can they overcome their tragic pasts and move on together? Or will their pasts be too great an obstacle to overcome?

I really enjoyed Pushing the Limits. Both characters certainly had a lot of baggage to deal with. I preferred Noah's perspective to Echo's as I felt she was a little bit spineless, especially in the beginning, but as the book progressed she found her courage and began to face her troubles head on so I ended up quite admiring her. Noah was a great character. He came across like the quintessential bad boy at first but this was just hiding a softer, more sensitive side. I liked how he was there for Echo, even though he had a lot of stuff going on in his life. I also really enjoyed the supporting characters, especially Lila, Beth and Isaiah (I loved Isaiah so much - so happy that he will be in the next two books!). If I had any criticisms it would be with the cutesy pet names (baby, siren, nymph etc.) that Noah bestows on Echo. Although people regularly have pet names for each other in real life it gets irritating seeing it in written form all the time so I could have done without that aspect. Still, overall I was really impressed with this book and I cannot wait to get my hands on Dare You To when it is released.