Aug 7, 2012

Guest Post: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (+Giveaway)

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
July 31st, 2012 from Harlequin Teen

I am thrilled to have Katie McGarry on the blog talking about a personal experience that . Welcome, Katie:

When I was in second grade, a friend of mine invited me to play at her house. After a few minutes of playing school, she asked if I would like to see her dog. Being a dog lover, my answer, of course, was yes.

My memory begins to get fuzzy after that and no, it’s not because I’m looking back at the event from my thirties. I repressed the memory of being attacked by her dog.

I had a couple of vague, hazy memories from after the attack: my sister staring at me as I rested on the couch in our living room, my parents calling the doctor, me lying on the hospital bed. My first clear memories are of standing in my room, lifting my dress and staring at the bandage on my right side. My mom told me I had been bitten by a dog, but I didn’t remember it.

How can I even begin to describe what it’s like? I’d go to school and this was the scene that played out:

A group of kids gathered around me as I took off my winter coat.

Kids: You were bit by a dog.

My mind: No, I wasn’t.

What I said: Yeah.

Kids: What happened?

My mind: Nothing, you’re fine.

What I said: I’m going to my seat.

I hated the bandage and loathed the wounds and the eventual scars they made underneath. I refused to look at my side, refused to touch the bandage. I hated going to school. I hated the looks from the other kids. I hated knowing that other people knew what happened to me even when I didn’t.

The experience did change me. I became terrified to leave home. In third grade, I had panic attacks at the thought of going to school. I once had been afraid of nothing and after the attack I became terrified of everything.

But I eventually outgrew the fear. When I was in college, I finally remembered the incident. It hit me like a bullet from a high-powered rifle. While I do have a memory of the event, I only see still-frame images and I never see blood in any of my mind’s pictures.

I always wondered, though, what if I never outgrew the fear and loneliness of memory loss? What if I had repressed a memory in high school, when what other people think of you means everything?

These are the questions I took with me when I wrote Pushing the Limits. I gave the book’s main character, Echo, a repressed memory. The emotions I felt in second grade are amplified in Echo, and since she’s a teenager, she’s facing complications I didn’t have at age seven…things like fitting in, boys, and falling in love. Plus, her scars are on her arms, which means they’re visible, unlike mine.

Echo, to say the least, is a very vulnerable, complicated, and emotional character. She forced me to push my limits as a writer.

Thank you, Katie, for sharing your childhood experience with us. I can imagine how that terrifying incident played a part in your adult life. I think it is extraordinary that you took that experience and incorporated into your book.

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You can find McGarry at her website
Today, I have an excerpt from Pushing the Limits! Echo and Noah both attend the same high school, but that’s where their similarities seem to end. Their paths cross however, when, on the first day of school after winter break they both meet their newly appointed school social worker. Katie McGarry wrote Pushing the Limits in alternating points of view, one chapter by Echo, the next by Noah. Check out the excerpts below, taken from the first chapters of Katie’s debut novel. Want to read from the beginning? Every stop on the blog tour features new excerpts – the complete tour schedule can be found HERE


“Mr. Emerson,” Mrs. Collins continued once Ashley left the room, “Echo’s scores are well above the national average and, according to her file, she’s already applied to the colleges of her choice.”

“There are some business schools with extended deadlines I’d like her to apply to. Besides, this family does not accept ‘above average.’ My daughter will excel.” My father spoke with the air of a deity. He might as well have added the phrase so let it be written, so let it be done. I propped my elbow on the armrest and hid my face in my hands.

“I can see that this really bothers you, Mr. Emerson,” Mrs. Collins said in an annoyingly even tone. “But Echo’s English scores are close to perfect....”

And this was where I tuned them out. My father and the previous guidance counselor had this fight my sophomore year when I took the PSAT. Then again last year when I took the SAT and ACT for the first time. Eventually, the guidance counselor learned my father always won and started giving up after one round.

My test scores were the least of my concerns. Finding the money to fix Aires’ car was the worry that plagued my brain. Since Aires’ death, my father had remained stubborn on the subject, insisting we should sell it.

“Echo, are you happy with your scores?” asked Mrs. Collins.

I peeked at her through the red, curly hair hanging over my face. The last therapist understood the hierarchy of our family and talked to my father, not me. “Excuse me?”


“Wonderful. So things are working out with your new foster family.” She said it as a statement, but meant it as a question.

“Yeah.” Compared to the last three families I had, they were the fucking Brady Bunch. This time around, the system had placed me with another kid. Either the people in charge were short on homes or they were finally starting to believe I wasn’t the menace they’d pegged me to be. People with my labels weren’t allowed to live with other minors.

“Look, I already have a social worker and she’s enough of a pain in my ass. Tell your bosses you don’t need to waste your time on me.”

Please visit Bethany Griffin's Blog for the next excerpt from Echo and Noah.
Check out the book trailer:

Lucky you, there is a finished copy of Pushing the Limits up for grabs! US/CAN only. Fill out the fancy doo-hickey below to be officially entered. Good luck! Katie is hosting a giveaway for a Kindle Fire. Check it out HERE