Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Posted on 06/06/2011 in Book Review / 7 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Forbidden by Tabitha SuzumaForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Published by Simon & Schuster's Childrens Books on 6/28/2011
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.

\r\nSeventeen-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.

“Wow that guy is hot.”

My cousin, who is only 24 days older than I am, said this to me at a family picnic when we were about 12.  My immediate reaction was to say, “Ew, GROSS!  He’s a cousin!”  (Note: he was like a 4th or 5th cousin…I have a really big family).  Even as children, we’re taught that incest is immoral, abnormal and just plain wrong.  And icky!

Say it with me: INCEST.  Incest Incest Incest.  If that makes you squeamish, don’t read this book.  You’ve been warned.

I’m unsure how to rate FORBIDDEN.  Tabitha Suzuma does a stupendous job investing you emotionally with her characters Lochan and Maya Whitely.  Growing up hasn’t been easy on them; at 17 and 16 years old, respectively, they’ve raised their 3 younger siblings while their absentee mother goes on drinking and boyfriend binges.  Suzuma tells us all of this from shifting 1st-person perspectives and your heart, despite the obvious blooming incestuous relationship, hurts for them, longs for them.  Can you blame them when, after spending most of their lives as partners rather than siblings, they fall in love?

I couldn’t.  I can’t.  I won’t.  FORBIDDEN is singularly the most heart-breaking, tragic, mind-blowing book I’ve ever – EVER! – read.  It grabs at your heart and twists it this way and that, telling a sad story you know can’t possibly have a happy ending.  And that’s what you think about while you’re reading it (because it will surely leave you thinking about it each time you put it down):  where do they go from here?  How can they find happiness when they’re BROTHER and SISTER?  How is it that a book about consensual sibling incest makes you feel so….so bad for them?  Because this book does.  Oh my god it does.

There were a few things I didn’t like, but not many: each chapter shifts between Lochan’s and Maya’s POVs, and sometimes I’d not realize the shift had taken place and have to check the chapter again to tell who was speaking.  Their inner dialogue is very similar, but perhaps because they are related?  That leads me to: there was a lot of inner-dialogue and not a lot of action (not that kind of action).  So while it was a page turner, it did feel like it dragged at times.  And yet I had to keep reading…  The ending was rather abrupt.  I didn’t realize I’d reached the last page and kept trying to scroll to the next page on my Nook.  It just kind of stops with no real build-up to that very last page.  I re-read the last page several times, thinking I’d missed something really obvious, but nope.  It just stops.  But maybe it was meant to.  I still have to chew on that.

FORBIDDEN is poignant, it’s real, it’s disturbing.  I’m disturbed I can feel compassion for two people, who are siblings, who’ve fallen in love.  I’m disturbed that it could be so real.  I’m disturbed that it’s made me question some of my beliefs (because frankly, it has).  But most of all, I’m disturbed that Tabitha Suzuma can write it so well.

Favorite Quote

“I can think of no other kind of love that is so totally rejected, even though ours is so deep, passionate, caring and strong that forcing us apart would cause us unimaginable pain.  We are being punished by the world for just one simple reason: for having been produced by the same woman.” -Lochan Whitely

About The Author

(courtesy of Facebook biography) Tabitha Suzuma was born in London in 1975 to an English mother and a Japanese father, the eldest of five children. She went to the French Lycée, hated school, refused to work and sat at the back of the class, writing stories. When she was fourteen, she just stopped going to school – much to her teachers’ relief and her parents’ anguish. Ten years on she returned to the classroom, this time as a Year 1 teacher. At this point she wrote her first novel, A Note of Madness. She went on to write three more novels for young adults: From Where I Stand, A Voice in the Distance and Without Looking Back. Her latest novel, Forbidden, is an incestuous love story between a brother and sister. She is currently working on a book about euthanasia entitled A Time to Die.

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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.

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7 responses to “Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

  1. Cait

    Great review, I'm awed by how well received and reviewed this book has been by bloggers-everyone's been very mature and open-minded about it. I really need to read it.

    The Cait Files

  2. Amanda

    You did a great review of it, mine isn't posting until later this month. It does look like we had about the same opinion on it.

    I have to say it may've been one of the hardest reviews I've written just because the book was such a painful read for me.

  3. Lisa

    Excellent review. That's a sensitive topic and it sounds like the author handled it very successfully.

  4. Sarah

    This book… broke my heart. I think it will stick with me forever :/ I love it none the less..

    *New Follower* I'm looking forward to your future reviews!

    Inklings Read.

  5. Jennifer

    Thanks, everyone! I definitely recommend it, it was just amazing.
    And Sarah, thanks for stopping by!

  6. The Bawdy Book Blog Besties: 2011 | The Bawdy Book Blog

    […] Forbidden was simply amazing.  Tabitha Suzuma took an intense and taboo subject and weaved a story that made you want to root for her characters through to the end and hope they find their happiness.   When you read the synopsis, you think that you can’t possibly want these characters to win or that you won’t possibly like it as much as everyone says you will, because, you know, it’s about incest.  But you do and you will. […]

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