So…I’ve noticed a lot of people are reviewing Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden—And I totally understand—I mean, calling a book Forbidden, is like saying, “don’t push the giant red button in the middle of the room.” Well, then you shouldn’t have a giant red button in the middle of the room if you don’t want people to push it. And likewise, people are going to read this book.
And I don’t think readers will be disappointed. From the blurb on back, I expected something like V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic. And it’s really not a bad comparison. But while Flowers in the Attic was a more fantastical wild story, Ms. Suzuma does a great job of creating an all too realistic world for Lochan and Maya.
Forbidden is the story of Lochan and Maya, a brother and sister forced to take on the adult roles of parenting their three younger siblings, and the unexpected consequence of finding themselves attracted to each other, and even falling in love with each other. Lochan and Maya are barely a year apart, and they’ve always been close; there’s always been a bond between them. Their father walked out on them years ago, and their mother is an unreliable alcoholic. But as their mother gets serious with a boyfriend, she begins to disappear more and more from their home and their lives, missing for weeks at a time, stopping back reluctantly to give the children money for food and bills. Lochan is almost eighteen; Maya seventeen. Willa is five, Tiffin eight, and Kit thirteen. Kit is probably old enough to help Lochan and Maya with the younger kids, but instead, he’s the most troublesome.
I wasn’t really looking for surprises when I started reading Forbidden— This is a young adult book, so nothing explicit; I knew what the story was about, a brother and sister falling in love—And because of the entire premise of incest, I wasn’t expecting a happy ending. But even knowing what the story was about, I couldn’t help wondering what Suzuma would do with the story, how she would bring the two characters together in a believable way. And of course, how Lochan and Maya would be found out. Again, this is no Flowers in the Attic.
I have to give Suzuma a lot of credit, because I fought and questioned every twist and turn in the book, looking for gaps and weaknesses. But the truth is, no matter how much no one likes to talk about it, or how rare it may be, incest is real. And Suzuma takes great care to deliver a plausible story of what could happen to two young, confused children (teenagers), without adults to guide them or look out for them. Technically, the children do have adults, teachers that look out for them and want to help; that they could turn to, but Lochan and Maya are more afraid that their large family will be split apart, which keeps them from reaching out for help, and instead looking inward. Lochan and Maya are lost and abandoned, with only each other to turn to, which is what makes this such a heartrending story.
With Forbidden, Suzuma has turned out a tragic love story along the lines of Romeo and Juliet (without the Montagues). I recommend you save this book for a dark and stormy night—Forbidden isn’t a casual summer fling, but rather a haunting and beautifully written story that was doomed from the beginning.
My honest and uninfluenced opinions. Thanks to Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab for review copy!