Katie McGarry is a well-known American author. She has authored several award-winning serial novellas such as Pushing the Limits and Crossing the Line, among others. Even though Katie majored in political science, she likes to introduce herself as a full-time writer and mom. In her own words, she is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television.


Echo Emerson is everyone’s role model at school. She is the girl every guy wants to go out with. However, she becomes an overnight outcast when she comes back with scars on her wrists and arms after she had gone missing for months. Her father does not listen to her, her stepmother – who used to be a babysitter – is expecting, and her real mother is nowhere to be seen.

Once a prodigious student and basketball player, Noah Hutchins is now a crackhead in foster care. His parents died in a fire, leaving Noah and his two orphaned brothers to their fate. With violence forcing him to move from one foster home to another, Noah is ready to do whatever it takes to lead a normal life. He also hopes to get his brothers back, after Noah’s last fight had reduced their supervised visits to an hour.

Pushing the Limits is essentially the tale of these two troubled teenagers. Narrated in alternating chapters for the two protagonists, the plot gradually sheds light on the teenagers’ secrets. While very different in their outlook on life, Echo and Noah find in each other the solace they long for.


Katie McGarry’s debut novel has everything one could expect from a young-adult novella: characters with strong personalities, a riveting plot, and a lot of suspense. Pushing the Limits is a soul-stirring story of two people with far-from-normal lives wishing to live like normal beings. The book is not just a stereotypical coming-of-age novella; it is about so much more. The romance is not at all an instantaneous, love-at-first-sight type, which is what makes it so adorable.

McGarry brilliantly uses the element of romance as a tool to examine the way the protagonists work out the problems that haunt them. The novel is definitely a bit too long, but its story never gets too unreadable. The way the plot deals with our society’s misconceptions about mental illnesses is simply awe-inspiring. The characterization is brilliant, with both Echo and Noah pushing both themselves and everyone around them to their very limits; absolutely nobody is spared. All the characters seem to have a story of their own, which kind of makes the book more realistic and relatable.

Pushing the Limits is a story that beautifully depicts how the right person can help us come out of our shell, thus speeding up our healing process.


While the genius of Katie McGarry has not left much room for criticism, the novel could have done without some of the foul language (but then again, this is a YA novel that we are talking about here!) and sexual innuendo.


The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see – the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.

I love you enough to never make you choose.

Because growing up means making tough choices, and doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean doing the thing that feels good.

I saw the world in black and white instead of the vibrant colors and shades I knew existed.


Ameya Rating:

Pushing the Limits vigorously grabs 4.4 stars out of a possible 5. The novella is a fantastic choice for late teens and just about anyone with a thing for YA fiction. The book deals with many psychological issues, and is a perfect choice for readers who thrive on some edgy storytelling.

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