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A Reader of Fictions: Breakable - Ingrid Michaelson

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, July 27, 2012

Breakable - Ingrid Michaelson

Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry
Pages: 392
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Source: Harlequin Teen at BEA

Description from Goodreads:
"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.

First Sentence: "'My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has...well...issues. How do you think I'm doing?'"

Pushing the Limits is another one of those books that has been hyped like whoa. Odds are you've heard of it, and you've seen rave reviews full of swooning and OMGs. Having finished, I can tell you that these responses are entirely valid and deserved. While not a completely perfect novel, I simply adored it from beginning to end and know that I will definitely be making friends read it and rereading it myself through the years.

On a very simple level, Pushing the Limits could be dismissed as a romance about a popular, well-behaved girl and the foster kid bad boy against all odds and the opinions of classmates. However, that would ignore all of the things that make this novel exceptional. Their family issues and scars make Echo and Noah much more interesting characters and makes their relationship so much sweeter.

Echo's name is a bit ridiculous, a flight of fancy by an artistic mother obsessed with Greek mythology. Her name comes from a Greek myth in which the jealous Hera curses a pretty nymph with the inability to do anything but repeat the words of others, eventually fading into just an echo as we know it. This name suits Echo perfectly. She says and does what others want her to, especially her controlling father. Echo has classic daddy issues and does what he says to keep him happy: she joins the right clubs, dates the guy he approves of, and gives up her passion for art in exchange for business because he thought that was better.

Echo used to have the perfect, middle class life, except for her manic depressive mother. Pretty, popular and dating one of the coolest guys in school, Echo had friends, good grades and serious artistic talent. Her life fell completely to pieces after her beloved brother, Aires, who joined the marines, dies. At the beginning of Pushing the Limits, Echo is mentally and physically scarred, gossiped about constantly and abandoned by one of her best friends, Grace. Although her relationship with Grace was a fairly minor plot point, I think it added a lot of validity to Echo's high school experience.

[I want to sidebar for a moment here and talk about the names. Echo and Aires, we're told, were both named for Greek mythology. However, I'm confused by the name 'Aires.' I've never heard of an Aires in Greek mythology. Did the mom or dad just misspell Ares or Aries? Do they pronounce it 'airs' or 'air-ease'? The super reliable source BabyNamesPedia informs me that Aires is a derivative of Ayers, which means heir. It just...doesn't seem right to me. Anyone able to explain this?]

Echo is forced into yet more therapy with a guidance counselor/social worker at school, as part of which she will tutor Noah, who needs to get his grades up. This way she can earn money to fix up her brother's '65 Vette. Noah, like Echo, is mentally and physically scarred. His parents perished in a tragic house fire, leaving him to the 'mercies' of the foster care system. Even worse, he is kept separate from his younger brothers, Jacob and Tyler, after he punches his first stepfather, unable to watch the man abuse his own son anymore.

Noah is, on the surface, the typical bad boy. He smokes pot, skips class, has tattoos, has one night stands with whatever girls he can get his hands on, and gets into fights. He's also sexy as hell and incredibly smart. Echo and Noah do not get along at first. Well, actually, he was totally willing to get *ahem* on board the Echo train at any point, but she hated his attitude and the rude things he said to her. Only as he came to know her back story and to realize that Echo is not the spoiled brat he took her for, does Noah really begin to care for. The same goes for Echo, as she learns that Noah has a reason for being the way he is.

I rooted for them wholeheartedly and definitely felt the pterodactyl butterflies alongside Echo at several points. Echo and Noah fit each other perfectly, able to understand one another's pain and emotions better than anyone else could. Noah is even so awesome that he was able to use the phrase 'make love' and make it sound sexy as hell, rather than contrived and disgustingly sappy. However, my main issue with the book was also bound up in this. They definitely ventured a bit too far into the melodrama at times, and there were some phrases that made me roll my eyes heartily, like this one: "Noah didn't walk, he stalked and I loved the mischievous glint in his eye when he stalked me." Yikes. I know what McGarry is trying to do there, but I'm really creeped out by any romantic reference to stalking; it's not stalking if you WANT him following you and he's not going to hurt you. Plus, I really hate the term of endearment 'baby' and Noah says it CONSTANTLY. Why couldn't he just call her Siren? I thought that one was cute.

McGarry's storytelling works perfectly. Told alternatingly from the perspectives of Echo and Noah, the story is much stronger than I think it would have been in third person or from just one perspective. Had I not had a view into his head, I am pretty sure I would have hated Noah for half the book, with his rude comments and behavior. Being able to see the thoughts behind his actions was immensely helpful. This also helped overcome some of the cheesily romantic dialog, because you then would get a view of the character thinking 'what did I just do?' and mentally facepalming.

This is already an exceedingly long review or I would discuss the other characters, who I though were also very well developed, although I would have liked to know a bit more about Beth, Isaiah, and Lila. Noah and Echo definitely have some serious navel gazing and tunnel vision going on. This is believable given the circumstances, but limits the reader's access to the other interesting characters. Mrs. Collins, the counselor, stole the show just a bit. She was hilarious and awesome. I loved how laid back yet capable she was. My only question about that is whether she really would have been able to drive a student around so often; it seems like she would need a permission slip or something for that, but maybe being a social worker gives her special rights.

I highly recommend Pushing the Limits to anyone who likes darker contemporaries. I also have to mention that this novel is a perfect readalike for fellow Apocalypsie novel Something Like Normal; these novels are clearly best friends, just like Travis and Aires totally would have been.

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Quote: "I'd lost and I'd won. I'd lost the dreams I had, but I'd won new dreams."

"Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts.
So it's fairly simple to cut right through the mess,
And to stop the muscle that makes us confess.

And we are so fragile,

And our cracking bones make noise,
And we are just,
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.

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Blogger Kat said...

Snap! I felt exactly the same about this one (I think my review is posting tomorrow), and my ONLY gripe was the sappy names.

I wondered about Aires too, but I didn't go as far as looking it up ;-)

Otherwise it certainly lives up to the hype!

July 27, 2012 at 4:01 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

So...this one of the books poor Harry Shum Jr.'s adorkableness lost to?

then it must be freakin' AWESOME.
I admit, I am not big on contemporaries..or romance. But Pushing The Limits have been getting such rave reviews, I am actually kinda looking forward to its release. I absolutely love good character development!

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

July 27, 2012 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah for similar tastes! I liked Echo's name, but I really think something weird happened with Aires'. It's a legit name, apparently, but it's not what his name was SUPPOSED to be. So...yeah. I don't know.

For sure! It was a great read!

July 27, 2012 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yup! It is.

I didn't used to like contemporaries much. I like them now, but mostly only the REALLY depressing ones. Like where someone's dying or someone got cheated on or a parent died or they have mental issues. Things like that. They're so good, and make me feel like I'm living life like a champ.

If you don't like romance much, though, this might not be the book for you. The romance scenes will definitely have you rolling your eyes at some points.

July 27, 2012 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger Bekka said...

I saw this on NetGalley a while ago, but didn't even bother because the synopsis just made it sound like the shallow bad-boy-good-girl romance that I hate. But I overheard people talking about it in an author signing line at BEA. I wish I knew who they were so I could credit them. I've read so many rave reviews, and yours helps solidify my choice in picking it up. I still haven't read it yet, as I am apprehensive and really, really want it to live up to the hype.

July 27, 2012 at 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Katie @ BlookGirl said...

Wow. Just... wow. Christina, this is a GREAT review! Possibly one of your best reviews ever! I have Pushing the Limits on my Nook and now I'm kicking myself for leaving it at home while I read a physical book! Hyped books are so scary, but I'm glad that this one lived up to your expectations overall. I can't wait to compare my thoughts to your own and see if I agree.

Great song choice, too! I've not heard it, but I'm going to check it out now :-)

July 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I definitely thought it was awesome. As I said, there is a little bit of cheesy dialog, so watch out for that. Otherwise, I thought McGarry did a great job of creating real characters and portraying kids in really difficult situations.

July 27, 2012 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yay! I think you will probably also really like it!

You totally should! Ingrid is great and this song is one of my favorites! Here's a link to it on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZB3E-OqKE8.

I don't link in my post because things get taken down and then it looks lazy. Lol.

July 27, 2012 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Glad this is as good as it's been hyped! I'll admit I've been a little cautious with this one because of the cover - it's terrible. But then again, all of Simone Elkeles' books have pretty terrible covers and I love all of those. So...

July 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger fakesteph said...

Yeah, I totally loved that one. Love Echo and Noah. And Mrs. Collins totally had my heart. Love her so much!

July 27, 2012 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Bahahaha, I actually like this cover, especially since the models do like kind of like I imagine the characters. BUT I get your point. I haven't read any Simone Elkeles for that reason, but I think I probably should.

July 27, 2012 at 4:17 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Mrs. Collins is totally hilarious! Although I was like 'You're going to kill Noah! Stop driving like a maniac, lady!' She had a really believable rapport with the students: sometimes laid back, sometimes too push, and sometimes a real friend.

July 27, 2012 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

Oh you do not know how badly I regret passing this ARC up..i was on one of my can't accept any more ARC kicks and your review has me kicking my own ... will be picking this one up for sure!

July 28, 2012 at 2:51 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Wah wah! I've regretted that stuff before too. Like...I thought that would suck and now everyone loves it and NOW I'LL NEVER GET TO READ IT. Then you sit back an think about it and realize it will exist other places. Book blogging does funny things to my thought process. :-p

July 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger FireStarBooks said...

I heard soooo many great things about this one! And god just from your review and the quote...(brb I'll be dying in the corner here). :) Fabulous review!

August 1, 2012 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


Thanks. This one's definitely amazing if you like contemporary YA!

August 1, 2012 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Jaime Lester said...

I can't wait to read this one. It is rare nowadays when you see reviews for a book, and the majority of them are absolutely raving. I am new to the contemporary world, and I think this one would be a great one to read next to keep me loving the genre. Thanks for your great review!

August 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm also pretty new to contemporary, and, of the ones that aren't mind-numbingly depressing, this is definitely one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy it, too!

August 12, 2012 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger Katie Marie said...

A dark contemporary, huh? I've been seeing a lot of reviews for this book--more good then bad. Glad to hear it isn't a depressing read. Those really get me down (no kidding, I know :-P). But, I mean, I like when an author keeps things realistic and believable...but I do like happy endings, too ;-)

August 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I really love the super depressing ones, actually, but I know what you mean. I used to hate them, but I got so tired of everything being so sugar sweet all the time. Real life is depressing!

Happy endings make me smile though. Unless I hate the characters, in which case I laugh at their pain.

August 13, 2012 at 10:41 AM  

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