Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry: A Review and Q&A with the Author

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry: A Review and Q&A with the Author

Olivia Kalb, Staff Writer

Two damaged characters forge a relationship in Katie McGarry’s realistic new Young Adult novel Pushing the Limits, characters whose deep emotional flaws and insecurities only helped to make the novel better. Most young adult romances provide pretty simple reasons the characters can’t be together. However, in Pushing the Limits, the conflict between the main characters comes from them having both been utterly ripped apart emotionally and physically by horrendous circumstances. And yet that they find such trust and safety in one another was inspiring and kept me reading without the usual predictability of: they kiss here, break-up here, get back together here. Pushing the Limits pushes the limits of normal YA novels. It keeps the reader guessing about Noah and Echo’s secrets, and whether or not they are strong enough to let go of their inhibitions and facades.

The wonderful author of this captivating story, Katie McGarry, very kindly agreed to an interview over email.

Let’s start with 3 fun facts about yourself.

I like writing with pink and purple pens.

Cemeteries creep me out.

I’ll make chocolate chip cookies from scratch just to eat the cookie dough.

You had such serious issues in your book, such as foster care, suicide, and mind trauma. Was it difficult to write about these topics? How did you decide to include them in your book? 

Honestly, I didn’t go into writing Pushing the Limits with the intentions of dealing with those specific issues. When I got into the story, the characters told me this is where the story needed to go and I didn’t want to shy away from the topics because I wanted to write a gritty, contemporary novel where love and hope shines through at the end.

When I write, I “become” my characters. Their highs are my highs. Their hurts become my hurts. I cried several times while writing Pushing the Limits, but I also laughed quite a bit, too.

What inspired you to write about the events in the story? 

When I was a teenager, my life wasn’t sunshine and rainbows and pink fuzzy unicorns puking rainbows. I remember going to high school and heading to class, talking to friends, wondering if the guy with the locker across from me liked me or not. It was all so very normal, yet not.

There were problems in my home. There were problems in my friends’ homes. Real life serious issues, yet every day we went to school and smiled.

While my life does not reflect that of Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits, I wanted to write a story I could have related to in high school—a story that talked about serious issues yet gave a ray of hope at the end because I wanted the world to know that there is always hope.

I don’t usually see switching points of view in YA books, what made you choose to do that? With both points of view, did you see both Echo and Noah as equal main characters, or was one more prominent to you as the lead?

I’m a love story type of gal and, for me, there are two sides to a love story.

It’s so much fun to watch a love story unfold from both points of view. When Noah opens his mouth and says something stupid, you get to see how he cringes on the inside and then you get to see how frustrated Echo is on the outside. Then you get to flip the coin and see how hard it is for Echo to open up to Noah and then experience how her trusting Noah affects him.

Of course, it also makes writing kissing scenes that much more exciting!

I definitely saw Echo and Noah as equal main characters. They both have strong story lines separate from each other.

Do you have any favorite scenes? Which scenes were the most difficult to write? 

Echo and Noah playing pool was definitely my favorite to write. I absolutely adore their banter, the sexual tension, and how Echo blows Noah out of the water with her pool playing capabilities. Of course, Noah edges unbelievably close to Echo, places his hands on her body, and…well…you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next. J

There’s a scene towards the end of the book where Echo and Noah are confronting each other after a whirlwind of awful events. There are so many emotions happening simultaneously between these two characters and it was difficult to wrap fear and frustration and love and hope all into one little scene.

I know I’ll definitely want to be reading more of your work. What do you have coming up? 

I’m currently working on revisions for Dare You To. This follows the story of Beth, a friend of Noah’s from Pushing the Limits. Dare You To is scheduled to be released in 2013.


392 Pages

Harlequin Teen