Book Reviews

[review] Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be.

So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love.

Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

Discovery: I first saw this book on Goodreads, and that sighting was quickly followed by mentions on Publisher’s Weekly and book blogs.

+     Voice. The story is told through alternating chapters, focusing on Lochan, then Maya. Despite the differences in age and temperament, Lochan and Maya’s voices are complementary. Lochan’s fears and anxieties are a well-placed foil for Maya’s calm, ethereal nature and together they unravel a devastating story of love. I was also enchanted by Tiffin and Willa, and Kit’s story is just as harrowing to read about as Lochan’s.

+     Themes. I’m sure there are readers who will pick this book up simply for the controversial subject matter. Incest is still one of the great taboos in a society that has used sex to advertise everything from cars to musical instruments. When the topic is hinted at, there is an automatic wince, a refusal to hear more, a need to protect oneself from the knowledge of it. Forbidden doesn’t shy away from that reaction. Both Lochan and Maya are aware of the consequences of what they are doing, almost as much as they know they need each other. The question posed to readers is this: Was it really worth it in the end?

Too much of a good thing is always bad, including love. Was it really love or simply a “sick” need for affection? The power in this novel comes from the uncertainty it stirs up in its readers. We feel deeply for Lochan and Maya and we want to see them happy. After everything that happens in this book, who wouldn’t? But how far would we be willing to go to afford them that happiness? Is it really for us to decide? Can that kind of love exist between two people who never asked to be born into the same family? Forbidden challenges its readers to hear the voices of two children who are caught in circumstances they cannot control, who are making decisions we may not understand or approve of, and that is all. It’s enough.

Recommendations: Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t include any negative points. I rarely do this, but I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this novel. It was emotionally scarring, in the best way, and I will definitely buy a copy of my own to read and reread. While I would recommend this novel to everyone I know, the fact remains that it contains mature scenes and young teens should read this with a parent’s guidance.

Rating: Excellent.

Go check out Tabitha Suzuma’s website, read her blog and follow her on Twitter @tabithasuzuma.

Next review: The Key to the Golden Firebird, Maureen Johnson

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4 replies »

  1. How very eloquently put! That is the most nuanced and most well-written review I’ve read so far.

    I’m planning on making this book our next book club pick after ‘A Game of Thrones’ (another incestuous book eh?). You raised really GOOD questions. May I use them? ☺

  2. When my friend first gave this book to me and I read the cover I was thinking to myself “alright…really?!” After finishing the book I was reading I read this one. It was an easy read and it wrenches your heart for the fact of what they go through and all they want is basically to hold each other at night.
    I agree with you that you should recommend it to everyone. Everyone needs to see that just because they think its bad doesn’t mean it is. Society has brought us up in ways that when some one second guesses it like Lochan and Maya…who is it to say they are wrong?

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