23 October 2012

Teen Tuesday

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen hardcover, 31 July 2012).

Echo Emerson doesn't want to be noticed.  Though she's been going to Eastwick High for years, and was once part of the popular group, something happened.  There's a lot of gossip about what kept her away for several months, but few people know for sure. 

Noah Hutchins is a "bad boy".  He smokes pot, drinks, breaks girl's hearts, and doesn't seem to care about schoolwork at all. 

Echo and Noah meet outside Mrs. Collins' office, waiting to see her for the first time.  She's the new Clinical Social Worker at the school, and both are required by Child Protective Services to see her regularly.  All they know about each other is what "everyone" knows, and they dislike each other almost immediately.

Echo always wears long sleeves, no matter how warm it is, in an effort to hide the scars on her arms.  Her father and step-mother sometimes come to the first session with her, and it's immediately obvious that Echo does not get along with her father's wife.

We learn that that what Noah wants most of all is to gain custody of his two little brothers, who were separated from him when their parents died.  In a failed attempt to protect the child of the foster family he was living with, Noah punched the father.  He was labelled as "unstable", and not allowed to see his (much younger) brothers anymore.

 When Mrs. Collins suggests that Echo tutor Noah, neither teen is thrilled.  But she makes the unappealing idea beneficial to both of them, and as they get to know each other, they realize that they may have more in common than they'd first assumed.

Chapters are told alternately from the point of view of Echo and Noah, so the information we receive is colored by the narrator.  Often, the same incident will be recounted by one and then the other, which allows the reader some objectivity.  McGarry creates a believable high school atmosphere, with supporting character that are multi-dimensional, even the adults.

This is a very powerful story, and it may be necessary to read it slowly in order to digest the complex emotions and problems experienced by the characters.

A preview of Dare You To (due in 2013), from the point of view of Noah's foster sister Beth, is included at the end of the volume. 

FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me an advance copy of the book for review purposes.


  1. Anonymous7:18 PM

    This sounds really intriguing. Reminds me of Julie Anne Peters's DEFINE NORMAL.

  2. I haven't read that; I'll have to look for it at the library. Thanks for stopping by, Pamela!


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