Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzama

Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 288 (US ARC)
To Be Published: June 2011 in the US; published 2010 in the UK and Australia

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.

My Take:  

With Forbidden, Tabitha Suzama has taken something typically considered one of the worst social taboos-- incest-- and written a beautiful, intense, and ultimately tragic love story.  This is a difficult book to review and a really difficult one to 'push' (I am an infamous book-pusher), because I think a lot of readers will automatically shy away from the subject of incest, even in a YA book.  I was uncertain myself at first, but all those fantastic reviews and the sheer intrigue of the premise eventually seized my attention.  This is a thought-provoking book whose ultimately heartbreaking romance that grows from its first hints and whispers near the beginning of the book to its shocking and unexpected finale. 

The story is told in alternating POVs: Lochan and Maya are the dual narrators, with Lochan's chapters being decidedly more engaging.  Maya and Lochan are brother and sister, yes, but at times they seem more like a couple-- the two of them are constantly having to care for their younger brother and sister and put up with the scathing words and disobedience of their rebellious brother, Kit.  Lochan is something of an outcast at school: he has severe social anxiety and barely speaks to anyone outside his immediate family.  His anxiety was very painful to read about, for me.  I wanted so badly for someone-- a teacher, his good-for-nothing mother, anyone-- to reach out to him.  As Lochan began to realize his feelings for Maya, I even half-wished that one of them would fall in love with somebody else... but eventually it becomes clear and obvious that they have always been in love, and always will be.  The two of them are best friends and each other's only confidantes-- soul mates, really, and I don't use that phrase lightly. (Mostly due to the risk of sounding like a Lifetime Network movie. ;)  The ending just about killed me, because by that time I was so emotionally invested in the book and the characters, even though I knew it couldn't possibly end well. (It says in the synopsis, even, 'a love this devastating has no happy ending'.  So yeah.  They aren't kidding.) 

In the end, I'm not sure how enjoyable this book is to read-- in fact, reading it was often painful-- but the author was obviously not intending a fun, light-hearted read in Forbidden.  More like the most emotional, tragic, incredibly, mind-numbingly realistic book I've read all year.  Definitely recommend this one to readers who think it sounds like something they'd want to read.  Sorry for the train wreck that is this review-- I had no (eloquent) words for this book.  It's something you have to experience reading for yourself, I think.  The 4.5 rating is because it broke my frick'in heart, and I'm docking it .5 in revenge!   

Cover: 4/5
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5


Maya said...

Incest always makes me squeamish, but this might be worth picking up if it's so well written. I'll have to be in a mood for a tragedy though. Thanks for your honest review!

Jessie Harrell said...

Wow - I hadn't heard of this one. I want both to read it and to run away from it screaming. Not sure what to do...

We Heart YA said...

What's amazing to me -- 2 things, really -- is this:

1) That someone could take such a "gross," taboo subject and humanize it. Your review (and one other that I read) talks about how beautiful and powerful this book is. To have that kind of skill as an author is... incredible. Enviable.

2) In the news we always hear about involuntary incest. This book takes a typically bad thing and turns it on its head. I'm always impressed by stories that do that.

Thanks for doing this review. Like Jessie, I'm both intrigued and a bit frightened. But I have a feeling I'll pick this up at some point.

Maggie Desmond-O'Brien said...

Hmmm. Initial gut reaction, as Jessie put it, is to run away screaming. But I'm so intrigued that I may actually have to pick this up. Ugh, DILEMMA. ;) Great review!

Alison said...

Wow...this sounds very interesting. It's good to read something that makes you uncomfortable every once in awhile. Like Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott.

Kat said...

@Alison-- Living Dead Girl is on my list as well! It's definitely 'that kind of book' as well. :)

@We Heart YA-- Yes, Tabitha Suzama is a truly gifted writer! Hope your dilemmas end with you deciding to read this one, guys. (Oops, there I go book-pushing again.) ;)

Katie (Call Me Crazy) said...

I'm so glad you liked this book! I love how you said it was often painful to read. It really was! You're review was awesome, because it's so hard talking about this book it's just mind blowing!

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