Have I mentioned how much I’m enjoying all these New Adult books? With some exceptions, I’ve loved everything I’ve read. Pushing the Limits is in part to blame for it because it was one of the first NA --or adult-ish YA’s-- I read.
Our leads are Echo and Noah. The book is told alternating between them and their stories are equally important.
First we have Echo. Something happened to her, something involving her mother. But she can’t remember and no one wants to tell her what happened. All she knows is that there’s a restraining order and that she isn’t allowed any contact with her mother; that she has some terrible scars on her arms; and that months ago something triggered an attack that left her in the hospital for days. She’s desperate to put all the pieces together to find out what happened.
Then we have Noah. His parents died and he and his younger brothers were separated and sent to foster homes. Noah is desperate to get his brothers back because he’s afraid of what may happen to them in those homes. His own experiences have been terrible and he feels very protective of them. The problem is that his record isn’t good. He attacked one of his foster parents (to defend one of the kids living with him) and now he’s been labeled as unsafe and his visiting rights revoked. All he has is a few hours each week and he worries that his brothers will forget him or get hurt. The foster parents aren’t bad, something that’s painfully obvious to everyone but Noah who is too blinded by fear and pain to see it.
What Echo and Noah have in common is the school counselor in charge of their respective cases. She wants to help them but Echo and Noah have different plans. They know the counselor has information they want. In Noah’s case is the foster parents’ address, and in Echo’s, a file explaining what happened to her. These two troubled teens that come from different worlds and have different lives, find some common ground in helping each other, and the more time they spend together the more their relationship develops into love.
I’m going to make a list of all the drama going on in Echo’s life (note that I’m not including the spoilery parts) so you can see that when I say over the top, I really mean it:
- She has no memories of the incident that left her scarred.
- She suffers attacks every time something triggers a memory.
- Her father doesn’t know how to relate or communicate with her.
- Her brother was killed in Afghanistan and now haunts her (but just his memory, not as a ghost, that would be too much!)
- Her father had an affair with their nanny who’s now pregnant (everything involving her relationship with her father and stepmother was so deliciously angsty; I loved every single part of it although I think it may have been a tad unnecessary. Obviously this review comes from the heart and not the head).
Now I’ll list Noah’s:
- His parent’s died in a tragic, traumatic accident.
- He went from foster home to foster home suffering abuse and neglect and is terrified his brothers will go through the same.
- He gets in trouble and acts out because he’s a traumatized teenager but doesn’t know how to ask for help.
- He wants to take on the responsibility of raising his brothers even though it means sacrificing his dreams.
It seems like this books suffers from everything-but-the-kitchen-sink syndrome but it didn’t feel like it while reading it. I didn’t roll my eyes once because I was too invested in the characters and their journey to care about the over-the-topness of it all. The book is many things, but boring isn’t one of them. It just has it all: young love, angst, drama, adorable kids, a mystery, a not-so-evil stepmother you will love to hate, a bad-boy hero, a wounded heroine, drugs, sex, interesting best friends… Everything!
I’ll wrap it up before the review gets even ramblier (and before I invent another word or make another list). But I can’t leave without telling you about Noah -- a broken bad-boy who actually had real and believable reasons to be that way. Layered and interesting, his story was heartbreaking. Everything about him worked, including the very realistic resolution to his problems, which was about the only realistic thing in the whole book but who cares? If the book is entertaining I’ll look the other way.
There you have it. You can’t say I didn’t warn you that there’s a lot going on in here, so if you don’t like angsty books filled with angsty teenagers going through angsty situations, this probably isn’t the book for you. But if you can handle extreme drama, then go read it now.
Review by Brie
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.
Harlequin Teen. July 31, 2012