Book Review: Forbidden (Tabitha Suzuma)
Release Date: May 27th 2010
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.
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.
Around this time last year I read an extract of Forbidden in Love Hurts and was really intrigued by it. It’s a pretty brave topic to write, especially for YA, and I really wanted to know how the relationship developed and how the story would end.
I can’t ever imagine feeling that a sexual relationship between siblings is right, and I liked that this book didn’t shy away from the wrongness of their actions, or try to romanticise it: they were aware that what they were doing was wrong, and eventually had to face the consequences of their actions. But I felt that their difficult home life probably led to their feelings and made it more understandable.
Lochan and Maya are basically parents to their 3 younger siblings: their mother is irresponsible, often drunk and, as the book progresses, increasingly absent. As well as the usual teenage stresses of school and friendships to deal with, Lochan and Maya have to get their siblings to school, cook, clean, put the kids to bed and worry about bills and being found out by social services. It’s a dysfunctional family that puts so much pressure on them and forces them to act as adults, each falling into a mother/father role.
This is the ultimate forbidden love story that makes others look weak in comparison: warring families, different races, even teachers and students – they’re all nothing compared to loving your sibling, as no one sees that as right. It’s difficult to read about, and even though I knew what they were doing was wrong, I did have a lot of sympathy for their feelings and the impossibility of their situation.
I wasn’t sure how Suzuma was going to end things: I didn’t think it would be right to allow them to end up together but an odd part of me didn’t want things to end tragically either. They weren’t bad people, just in a difficult situation, but I knew there was no way they could end up happy. I won’t spoil the ending but it was a little heartbreaking.
This is a difficult read about a taboo subject that may not be to everyone’s tastes. I’ve seen lots of reviews from teen readers with siblings who say it made them feel uncomfortable, which is understandable. Still, it’s unlike anything I’ve read before and I’d definitely recommend it.