“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.
So wrong for each other…and yet so right.
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” was one of those books that the haul posts regularly featured late on in 2012. After taking roughly a week to read it, on and off due to my holiday trip, I can understand why as it falls within the mould of being a “page turner” (in fact, the last third was read in a day).
I knew that the book centred on two troubled teens, but nothing more than that. What greeted me was a book that was cleverly written. Seen from the alternating perspectives of the two lead characters, Echo Emmerson and Noah Hutchins, the story on the two is peeled back like layers of an onion, not giving away too much all at once, but still maintaining an interest and pace that keeps the reader interested.
The leads themselves are as well drawn as the plot with their surface character being a big red herring for who they really are underneath. Echo is seen as a helpless young woman who has unexplained scars on her arms, a hole in her memory due to the incident which led to those scars and night terrors, whilst Noah is initially presented as a stoner, dropout orphan who has sex with females who welcome the attention and some anger management issues.
Underneath though, both characters are shown as being damaged by their experiences, and from the school environment around them who only gain the opening of their healing when they are placed together as part of an experimental “buddying” project set up by their support worker, Mrs Collins.
In addition to Mrs Collins, the only real adult supporting cast are Echo’s father and stepmother. The other main supporting cast are Echo and Noah’s peers – the popular crowd such as Lila, Grace and Luke who either help or hinder Echo, and Isaiah and Both both treated as much as outsiders as Noah and whom Noah considers as brother and sister.
Apart from Echo and Noah’s respective journeys, I noted a couple of additional themes which underpin the book.
The first is that of trust. Echo is unable to trust the adult figures in her life because they either control her, in the case of her father and stepmother, hurt her in the case of her biological mother, or keep information from her in the case of Mrs Collins. Noah adult figures are represented by the system which, from his standpoint, seeks to prevent him from being reunited with his biological brothers, whether it be Mrs Collins, combative social worker Keesha or his brothers’ foster parents.
Following an initial period of mistrust, Echo and Noah realise that they can initially only trust each other, which ends up feeding into friendships between Noah and Lila or Echo with Isaiah and Beth.
The other underpinning plot strand is that of “nature versus nurture”. On the one hand, you have Echo who is living in an environment where she is smothered and overprotected by her father, whilst Noah has had to be self reliant after being shunted from foster home to foster home whilst having to be the older brother figure to Both and Isaiah and seeking to take on the parental role for his two brothers.
A word of warning to people who may not have read this genre of books before, there is a lot of swearing, primarily from Noah, but there are instances from other characters within the book. However, this is redressed, in part, by Echo trying to take Noah to task for the language he uses and seeking to help him open up his horizons, along with his vocabulary.
There are also sexual references on the part of both characters and given how Noah is initially referred to as somebody who sees girls as notches on the backseat of the car along with how both Echo and Noah see each other as lovers and potential sexual partners, there is a redressing of the balance with Noah willing to wait to make love to Echo until the time is right for her.
It’s a great novel which I’m glad to have initially bought and then glad to have been prompted to read by my friend Hazel (aka Chocolatequeen20000).
If you’re looking at reading a YA/New Adult book with depth, please give this book a try.
I’m really looking forward to reading the forthcoming novella “Crossing The Line”, which focuses on Lila, and the sequel novel “Dare You To”, which focuses on Beth.