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.
Pushing the Limits introduces us to Noah and Echo - two people as different as night and day, but two people currently going through some of life's toughest challenges. Echo has repressed the memory of a horrifying incident with her mother which left her with horribly scarred arms; meanwhile, Noah, while still grieving the death of his parents two years ago, is under the care of a foster care system that has forced him apart from his younger brothers. Similarly, however, they have no adults in their lives to lean on to - Echo's father is too busy with his new wife; Noah's foster parents don't really pay attention to him. All this changes, however, when both start undergoing counseling under Mrs. Collins, who tasks Echo to tutor Noah. Moreover, amidst all the confusion and chaos both are experiencing, Noah and Echo find reasons to lean on each other and to begin a relationship, while slowly attempting to right their lives.
While Noah and Echo's budding relationship was certainly a highlight, what I liked most about this book was how Noah and Echo were portrayed so realistically. When I say that they're relatable, I'm not lying, nor am I exaggerating. Like Echo, we've all felt what it was like to be shunned by the people who should have cared for us the most one time or another. Like Noah, we've all felt victimized and personally screwed by a system that was supposed to help us to begin with. Like Echo, we've all felt the heaviness of public scrutiny with regards to how we look and our reputations. Maybe, like Noah, there are also those who've succumbed to vices just to deal with the mess that their lives have become. Like Noah and Echo, we've all been let down by adults, and we've all decided at one point or another to stop trusting them. Maybe, like Noah and Echo, there are also those who have found an adult like Mrs. Collins who truly cares and is truly interested in helping. And maybe, like Noah and Echo, there are those who found that one person who shares their pain amidst all the chaos in their lives.
To say that Pushing the Limits is one of the best books I've read this year is a gross understatement - it's one of the best books I've ever read in my life. It's one of those books that will continue to haunt your mind and tug at your heartstrings well after reading it; it's one of those books wherein you feel that you've come such a long way with its characters after a mere four hundred pages or so. Each page grips you emotionally; each of Noah and Echo's internal struggles make your entire being ache with empathy; and the tears shed by both characters break your heart, simply put. Pushing the Limits is a heartwarming story filled with realistic experiences that will blow your mind - three days after reading the book, I still can't stop thinking about it no matter what I do.
Pushing the Limits is engrossing, entertaining, and utterly heartbreaking. It's one of those books that will stay with you forever. Oh, and nope, I'm still not exaggerating.
Rating: 5 Stars
Thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley providing me an advanced e-copy of this book!