Author: Katie McGarry
Breaking The Rules is the next in Katie McGarry’s Pushing The Limits series and another emotional roller coaster for damaged characters Echo and Noah.
My main issue with this book is that it takes place after Noah and Echo graduate high school, during the summer between high school and college. Those who have read the entire series, like me, will realise this is before later stories and ultimately means we have some idea how it ends.
Part of a series Breaking The Rules continues the story of Noah and Echo as they trek cross country over summer looking for answers and trying to find themselves, determined that if they can get away from all the drama in Kentucky they will outrun it and return home above it. I know and love Echo and Noah and I want to see them make it, I have read all the novels in the series and feel for the cast of misfits but if you haven’t read any of the Pushing The Limits series you are still going to get a lot out of Breaking The Rules. McGarry includes enough background to keep you up to date with what’s going on but not so much that you feel like you’re rehashing the first book. Now that I think about it, that background is good for those who have read the first one anyway because if there’s been lots of books in between the reminder can be quite helpful.
Echo Emerson has just endured a hellish final year at high-school after being injured and returning to school with her arms covered in scars. It’s high school so rumours abound but no-one knows the truth, not even Echo. She has recently regained the memories and it hasn’t really helped.
The summer has been fantastic for both Noah and Echo as they start working through their baggage. Echo is selling her art in galleries on their way and Noah is making the most of the travel program offered in the burger chain he works in by picking up shifts in outlets on their route. Things seem to be going well until they are both hit with unexpected news.
Noah and Echo recognised something in one another that no-one else did, they both saw past the scars to offer a chance at redemption. Echo’s scars are out there for the world to see, when she isn’t hiding them under sweaters, but Noah’s scars are on the inside, behind the wall he has erected to cut himself off from emotion. The summer trip is going to open those scars right up before they can begin to heal and it’s very touch and go whether Noah and Echo will have what it takes to make it through.
McGarry takes us further into the world weary young minds of Noah and Echo than we’ve been before, further than they had been. The summer of independence was supposed to change them, allow them to move forward. Instead it showed them that they had only started to scratch the surface of their issues and they couldn’t move past them until they learned to understand them.
Two characters so deeply scarred, carrying so much baggage and feeling unworthy of love and a happily ever after are going to have periods of freak out, are going to wonder when it’s all going to come crashing down and a lot of the time are going to try and sabotage their own happiness whether they mean to or not. It’s the way of the world and something many of us can relate to, though often not to this extent thankfully.
Breaking The Rules is told from dual points of view by both Noah and Echo, the same as all of the Pushing The Limits novels. This method of story telling is becoming very common and I love that it really lets you into the characters head in a way that a third person narrative doesn’t. Noah and Echo are so different that it is quite easy to keep the two of them separate and not get confused by whose head you’re in.
I have cried in every one of McGarry’s books to date but I managed to keep that under control in this one, but only just. These kids have come such a long way in one year and you can’t help but be proud of their achievements and broken hearted alongside them when things go south, again. This summer has taken Noah and Echo to the very boundaries of young adult fiction and seen them move into new territory, in the way that is right for them. There is a little steam but it is still much more about the emotion and the connection than their physical relationship.
Noah and Echo are still a work in progress, they aren’t even close to their happily ever after yet but the more we learn about them the more we learn about hope.
I am hoping that there will be more in the Pushing The Limits series but first I am looking forward to the new series, Thunder Road, which starts with Nowhere But Here later this year.
Breaking The Rules is available now through Harlequin Teen