Book review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, London: Definitions, ©2010

Warning: this book is about sibling incest. If you are uncomfortable or triggered with that, please feel free to skip ahead. On to the review:

This is the second book I read for this month and I read it in one sitting because the story was so gripping. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (©2010) is about a flesh-and-blood brother and sister who are dealing with a broken family, with an alcoholic divorced mother who cares more about dating than her children. Maya, 16, and Lochan, 18, try their best to fend for their three younger siblings. Lochan is good-looking and brilliant in school, but his anxiety is so extreme that he can only open up to Maya. Maya is normal and popular, but she cares most about Lochan.

When Maya starts to date, the trouble starts. Lochan is jealous, and Maya realizes that she has more than familial feelings for him which Lochan also secretly feels. At that point in the story, I already felt that we are heading to a heartbreaking tragedy. They soon tread a scary path the last, most ‘forbidden’ line of love - incest.

The closest story I can compare it to is V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic. I have a funny experience with that book because it was immensely popular with other girls when I was in high school but I only got to read it much later then saw that the main love story in the book is about two siblings.

Forbidden is told from the perspective of both Lochan and Maya. I really feel bad for Lochan, who is bullied for his anxiety which is even making the anxiety worse. He and Maya have to cover up for their drunk mother and work hard to take care of a family with small children. They soon seem more like the 'responsible’ parents than their toxic mother.

The book explores a subject we are usually very uncomfortable to talk or think about. Both Maya and Lochan are dealing with difficult adolescence and its anxieties, and the book describes well how its like to live with a destructive family. It makes you think of what society considers as taboo, and what makes it so. The book does end in a very tragic and heartbreaking manner and makes the reader feel sympathy and sadness for the two protagonists. I wish the book ended in some other way.

It might turn off the reader at first due to its controversial subject, but it's an interesting portrayal of love, taboos, family, adolescence, anxiety, and mental illness. If you don't like sad stories, this story might make you cry because I myself cried at the end.

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