by Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen, July 31 2012
contemporary young adult romance
Echo Emerson doesn't know where the scars on her arm came from, but she does know that her father's way too controlling, her new stepmother's an attention-hogging bimbo and that tutoring bad-boy stoner Noah Hutchinson is not a good idea. Noah's one goal is to make it out of high school and rescue his brothers from the foster care system, and he doesn't need to be flailing over a girl with curly red hair and a cinnamon smell. Obvs, these two were a match made in heaven.Sorry for that last line. *snigger*
The positioning of the title is wonderful, as are all the basic sans-serif fonts. The black, grey and white scheme is also well-done. The models' posturing is a little too PDA-ish, but fits the story.
I read this late enough that much of the hype had faded from my mind, but I agree with Ashley: if you liked Simone Elkeles's Perfect Chemistry trilogy, you'll like Pushing the Limits. The concept of bad-boy meets (relatively-)good-girl is developed well in this story; their personal troubles are what bring them closer together as they lean on each other, a tried-and-true romance tactic that is wielded excellently here with the dual POVs.
Another aspect of the romance very much appreciated by moi was that once Echo and Noah got serious about each other, they didn't play games. They spoke to each other seriously, they communicated, and that one misunderstanding was resolved very quickly (or else I would've thrown a tantrum, because I detest misunderstandings used as plot devices :P). In essence, there wasn't too much angst related to the relationship, and because the reader sees them confronting their personal problems together, it's easy to grow to cheer for them.
Something else Ashley mentioned -- the amount of drama. Yes. There is a lot of it. Echo struggles with her new stepmother, her therapy sessions, her sometimes-friends and her idea of normalcy; Noah's dealing with the foster care system, his counseling sessions and his stoner friends. But I do believe it's all dealt with reasonably; realistic solutions are presented (e.g. Echo decides to leave town for a while to give her stepmother some space). Both Noah and Echo exhibit growth, and in this character-driven novel, that's really all we need.
(N.B.: It's really adorable to watch Noah's bad-boy style of thinking shift to acknowledge the fact that he's falling in love, but... do boys really think that way?)
Rating: 4 out of 5