I’ve had Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry on my to read list for several months, but as my list gets longer and longer, it continues to be pushed a little farther down. When I saw another blogger mention this novella, I knew that I needed to read it to get a feel of the author and add a little variety to my reading as novellas and I aren’t the best of friends. It also felt like it had been a while since I’d read something that wasn’t paranormal or dystopian (not that I don’t love those genres!).
The characters in this novella are realistic teenagers, and I liked both Stella and Jonah. They had their own personalities and weren’t cookie cutter versions of teenagers that pop up in fiction from time to time. Do you know any teenagers who, like Stella, hang out at the cemetery all the time? I know I don’t! Her differences make her weird to others and a target at school, but I found them endearing. As you read the story, her reasoning for going to the cemetery makes a lot of sense. Jonah was a lot more “normal” than Stella, but not perfect by any means. It’s always refreshing to read intelligent and strong teenagers that aren’t too mature. Their weaknesses made the story more compelling. They have their fair share of problems in life, which is what this novella deals with, and I loved the way their relationship developed and how they both dealt with the bad stuff privately and together. Besides Jonah and Stella, the secondary characters add a lot to the story. I enjoyed the scenes between Stella and Joss as well as the ones between Jonah and his sister.
This novella is part of Harlequin’s More Than Words program that awards women who have changed lives for the people around them. This particular novella was inspired by Nikki Berti, a woman whose foundation Goodie Two Shoes donates shoes to children in Southern Nevada. Prompted fiction is not one of my favorite things because sometimes it can seem a little forced, and I know what it’s like to attempt to do writing assignments with a prompt, but this novella is a great example of how to do it right. Goodie Two Shoes is used as part of the plot of this story and it’s done extremely well. My favorite scene might have been one that was based upon it.
If it were longer, I think I would have really loved it, but I’m giving it 3 stars because I would have preferred to read more about Stella’s home life and Jonah’s problems. A couple hundred additional pages would have made a huge difference for me, so I’m looking forward to reading some more of McGarry’s books.
According to Goodreads, a couple of similar books are: Tease by Amanda Maciel and What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick.
Find more information at Goodreads.