Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Release Date: June 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
A shocking, heartbreaking story of taboo romance that’s as compelling as it is controversial.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 de facto 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 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.
I’ve been watching my cursor blink for the last thirty minutes as I tried to decide how to write this review. All I can think over and over is that this is the hardest review I have ever attempted to write. I have so many thoughts about this book and it’s been increasingly difficult to express them coherently. How strange is it to say I completely and utterly enjoyed a book about incest. It feels so wrong to say, but Forbidden was a heart breaking story that sucked me in and didn’t let go, even after the book ended.
Lochan and Maya are the eldest of five siblings. Their father has left them, their mother has essential as well, which leaves the two of them to care for the household. At seventeen and sixteen this is no easy task. When they should only be worrying about school, they must instead also worry about bills and keeping food on the table. Oh, and they have to make sure no one finds out else they risk social services coming in and splitting them up. It’s a shaky, chaotic world to say the least; one where Lochan and Maya have only each other to rely on. At thirteen months apart, they’ve been more like best friends than siblings. Well, and maybe a little more. When an attraction blooms between them, Lochan and Maya have to face a grave decision. Can they honestly cross that forbidden line in order to follow their hearts?
I will admit this tale will make many people uncomfortable. Suzuma does not sugar coat the relationship. Nor does she glorify it. Lochan and Maya are in a constant struggle of should they or shouldn’t they, knowing that incest is illegal and even sick. They know what they feel is unnatural, but at the same time they can’t help the emotions that overtake them. Considering everything they’ve been put through, it’s hard not to understand how they ended up on that path. Suzuma will have you wishing they could somehow find the happiness they truly deserve.
My only real complaint is I have no idea how to sell this to teens. While those who have read Flowers in the Attic will have an easier time with Forbidden than others, it’s not an easy book to necessarily recommend. It’s not something like Divergent where I can put into teen hands without a second thought. I can only imagine how many I would scare away or parent complaints I would get when I say I have this amazing book on incest. However, it will be in my library. I’m still brainstorming ways I can highlight it, without wrath/challenges coming down on me. My best solution at the moment is to do an “issues” book list; one that tackles life hard and uncomfortable issues. If anyone else has a suggestion, please let me know!