Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book: Pushing the Limits

I received Pushing the Limits through NetGalley for the purposes of reviewing it.

Echo and Noah are two very different teens whose lives intersect in the school counselor's office.  Collins is no ordinary school counselor, either; she's on loan from social services specifically to help at-risk kids.  Echo and Noah start out with very little in common other than being at-risk, for completely different reasons.

Echo is extremely depressed, trying to deal with the death of her beloved brother and an accident involving her mother, both the year before.  Noah's parents have both died, and he's struggling with how to get out of foster care and reunite with his younger brothers as a family and isn't sure that school is the best way to do that.

Collins assigns Echo as Noah's tutor.  Truthfully, he needs motivation more than tutoring and though at first they strike sparks, they begin to tentatively reach out to each other in friendship.

Echo and Noah begin to journey toward recovery, both separately and together, and the trip is poignant and funny and joyful and heartbreaking.

Secondary characters are lifelike, and one is the subject of a follow-up book coming out sometime soon - maybe late fall?

There are references to sex, without the ridiculous insistence on abstinence that is frequently so prevalent in books about teens.  Yes, some real teens practice abstinence, but there are plenty who don't, and this book is refreshingly full of regular teens of both kinds.

Pushing the Limits doesn't end Happily Ever After, and it would be a much poorer book if it did.  Instead, we get a glimpse of where Echo and Noah are, where they want to be, and how their individual struggles inform each other's progress toward health and happiness.

I loved this book, and am really looking forward to the following book.  Since I'm not a fan of the YA genre, I can't praise much higher than that.