Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Title: Forbidden
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Reading Level: Older Young Adult
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ARC, 454 pages
Date Published: June 28, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads): 
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.
Forbidden took me about five or six days to get through, which is quite unusual for me, but Tabitha Suzuma’s novel about the most forbidden kind of love – incest – between a brother and a sister is all kinds of uncomfortable and heartbreaking and the kind of book that makes the reader rethink everything they have ever believed.

Lochan and Maya are a mere 13 months apart in age and should still be able to behave as young adults, but they can’t because they have three younger siblings that they are responsible for. Their alcoholic mother is never around so Kit, Tiffin, and Willa are their responsibility; their children, in a way. Lochan and Maya never really come off as simply siblings. They are best friends, and then more.

I’ll be honest, Forbidden made me uncomfortable at times. Incest is something that most people – myself included – don’t talk about or even think about. I never gave it any thought because it isn’t connected to my life. Venturing into Lochan and Maya’s growing feelings for one another made me realize just how squirmy it made me feel. It makes them uncomfortable too, which I think is realistic. Neither of them truly wants to feel the way they do, they just do.

Maya and Lochan’s back and forth about how to handle it, what to do, is their own personal brand of torture. Lochan struggles everyday with his feelings and getting to see that, made their relationship that much more emotional. I can’t exactly relate to Lochan and Maya’s situation, but I was able to empathize.

Lochan is slightly older and reads as a more mature character, taking consequences into consideration, while Maya is more willing to delve into something. In the end though, both come off as selfish, in a way. Neglecting the consequences and diving headfirst into a relationship that puts their futures and the future of their siblings in jeopardy. I won’t say that I didn’t find Forbidden a little disturbing, because I did. It’s incest, but then Suzuma’s writing is very sexy, very visceral. She doesn’t hold back, so there are some more graphic scenes. Definitely more than just a little kissing.

Tabitha Suzuma expertly crafts an intimate relationship that most believe should not exist, that society has deemed unlawful, and made it personal. She made me care so much for the Whitely family – not just Lochan and Maya, but for Kit and Tiffin and Willa and the abandonment that all these children have suffered. After so much pain, I could only think that if this one thing – this love between Lochan and Maya – made them happy, then why can’t they have that. Society sees it as wrong and there are repercussions to a sexual relationship, but the fear they go through made me hope for the best for them, while preparing for the worst.

That being said, I couldn’t help but shy away from the more sexual scenes. This book is certainly not for everyone, but a lot can be gleaned from it. Incest is a word that people don’t really throw around a lot. It’s a taboo that we want to ignore, but then jump at the chance to scrutinize those in the situation. Maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe the notion of love should be looked at in a different light, with a different view, because Forbidden is a love story. An uneasy, somewhat unnerving, tragic, and heartbreaking (I almost cried near the end) love story, but a love story nonetheless. It was an eye-opening and emotional experience for me and I hope others give this book a chance to make them see the world just a little bit differently.

Opening line: I gaze at the small, crisp, burned-out black husks scattered across the chipped white paint of the windowsills. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages:
The harsh winter light strengthens, flooding through the windows and bouncing off the walls. I feel the pressure of it against my body, burning holes into my skin. I am lost in this maze of corridors, staircases, floors stacked one above the other like a pile of cards. If I keep going, maybe I will find my way back – back to the person I used to be. ~ pg. 209

If I keep breathing, then I have to keep living, and if I keep living, then I have to keep hurting, and I can’t – not like this. ~ pg. 257
*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy  
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Tabitha Suzuma online:

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Erika said...

I really liked the honesty in your review. I have been looking for a honest review of this book and found it here! Thank you!

Briana said...

I can't wait to buy this book! It sounds so amazing. Good review Nik =)

Kristene Armstrong said...

Thanks for this review. :)

Jaedia said...

Fantastic review. I had shied away from this book the second I heard "incest" but.. I'm interested to see what this book has to offer now.
The Rant Page.

Anita said...

I felt much the same way reading this book. It makes you uncomfortable and enthralls you at the same time. It's a strange mix of emotions.

Reading the passages you included in your blog made remember the beauty of Tabitah Suzuma's writing...I do look forward to more from her, and I'm hoping she'll go a little less taboo next time! :)

Novels On The Run said...

Great review. I felt pretty much the same as you. It was a tough, tough read and it took me longer than usual to read a book as I needed to keep stopping. Tabitha really does make you want that fairy tale ending. She really makes you feel the hopelessness and you just want them to be happy. I can't really understand how it is under YA as..well you know, you have read it. Very powerful, kinda draining book that I am glad I read it.

Michelle A

Lori said...

I've had this on my wishlist since the UK release because I was hearing so much discussion about it. I think I'm definitely going to have to read it really soon.
I like when books leave me conflicted. I think this book will leave me completely conflicted. I can definitely see how it would be an uncomfortable read too. But I'm still looking forward to it.

Great review!

~The Book Pixie said...

I have a bit of a thing for books that make me uncomfortable, especially since very few books actually accomplish that. I've heard a lot about this one and I know it is one I'll definitely be reading. Thanks for the review! :D


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