Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Release Date: 06/28/11
Published by: Simon & Schuster

Forbidden by 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.

This isn't going to be a full-blown review simply because I don't have very many unique things to say about this novel.  Regardless, I still wanted to draw attention to it.

I saw how great the reviews were on Goodreads and it made me curious.  I have three older brothers so the idea of an incest book isn't exactly appealing.  But when everyone said that Tabitha Suzuma does the impossible--that she gets you to empathize with incestuous lovers, they were right.

The book starts out with Lochan's perspective, and man, Suzuma immediately gets you on his side.  His social phobia is so heartbreaking; I've never once met someone who's had that hard of a time talking with people.  And then, as if that's not stressful enough, he comes home and has to take care of his three younger siblings.  Maya tries to help him, but he's older than her and seems to take on more of the load.  Furthermore, he's decided to take on an extra helping at school.  I have a British friend who tried explaining the A-levels and whatnot to me, but I'm still not quite familiar with the system so suffice it to say that Lochan is supposed to be a genius child overworking himself in every manner.

Then you have Maya's perspective, and though she may not overwork herself like Lochan, she clearly wants to help him.  She is the only one who seems to care about him in that she asks him what's wrong and can tell when he's feeling particularly stressed.  Little kids don't see that, and the middle child, Kit, tries to goad Lochan because he's upset their father abandoned them, and Lochan has sort of taken his place.  So the dynamic that develops between Maya and Lochan is compelling and believable.  Also, I liked Maya less than Lochan character-wise.

And one day, when the other kids are gone and Maya is trying to cheer Lochan up, dancing salsa with him, he has an erection.  He snaps at her and takes a cold shower.

So begins their battle between what they know is wrong and what feels right.

Suzuma is a brilliant writer.  Not only does she get you to like them as characters, but the home life she creates for them is heartbreaking.  The dynamic between Maya and Lochan becomes those of parents raising children, and I actually wondered how they could be siblings because they simply don't act like it.  The make-out and sex scenes are desperate and brilliantly written.  Explosive even.  Their love is so tender that it makes me wonder if I'll be able to read another paranormal forbidden love deal without rolling my eyes and thinking about this book and how this is a situation that's truly unconquerable.

This is definitely not a book for the younger crowd that reads YA.

Sometimes, however, it felt like I was chugging through the book--that it's 400+ pages of some of the same issues over and over.  And it was slow-paced at the very beginning.  The former may be because of the anticipation, knowing that their love was doomed and I was just waiting for something bad to happen.  It also didn't really feel like a YA book in that these kids are so mature... well, because they have to be, obviously, but still, at the beginning and during other parts of the book, I felt like I was reading a novel on parenting.  Tension fills almost every page of the book, but it wasn't the kind that I could sympathize with.  I could empathize but not sympathize with their situation so I wasn't as engrossed in the novel as I would have liked to be.

Nonetheless, if you want the prime example on forbidden love, check out this well-written novel.


  1. i love Forbidden. it was heartbreaking. i have to admit that it ranks high among my most romantic books despite its concept of incest. see my review here:

  2. I've been waiting to read this one, but every time I remember it's 400 pages long my eyes get loopy just thinking about spending that much time reading on a screen. I'm going to brave it though, because the story seems so well done.


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