Forbidden is a standalone YA novel from Tabitha Suzuma. It was published on 27th May 2010 by Random House and the book is 432 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Maya is sixteen. She is very pretty and talented but doesn’t have much experience with boys. Infact, she has never even been kissed before.
Lochan is seventeen. He’s extremely intelligent and has a long, bright future ahead of him and could probably do whatever he wanted.
Maya and Lochan are in love. The problem is, they are brother and sister.
What I thought
Before reading this book, I had heard extremely mixed opinions due to the subject matter. I chose to only write a very short summary of the plot because it is so powerful that expanding it would just ruin the story for anyone who hasn’t read the book.
Tabitha Suzuma tackles an extremely taboo subject with Forbidden and I have to applaud her for that. Not many authors have the guts and courage to even attempt to talk about something like incest. Even though the incest was consensual, that doesn’t make it ok and Suzuma never forgets that. Even with this subject being at the forefront of the book, the writing is beautiful and heartfelt throughout.
Forbidden is told from a dual narrative. This made it easy to understand what both, Maya and Lochan (the main characters) were feeling. I was completely and utterly engrossed in their story and everything that had been through up to this point in their lives. Maya and Lochan come from a pretty broken family and have a mum who is never there, meaning they have to take charge and run the household. This alone must have been a great pressure on them both and I’m not sure how I would have coped with that or even if I would have been able to. The main thing about the dual narrative though is being able to see that the incest is completely consensual which is a very important aspect of this book.
Incest isn’t the only hard topic being written about here though. Forbidden also tackles subjects such as alcohol abuse, drugs and the pressures of school and what other people expect of you. Forbidden certainly isn’t an easy read by any means and infact, it is probably the hardest book I have ever read. That being said, everything Suzuma writes about is justified and fit the story perfectly. I think these other aspects were needed to show just how rough of a life Maya and Lochan were having at this time in their lives.
Throughout the book, I was waiting for there to be a huge twist and for Maya and Lochan to not actually be brother and sister. That never came though. Even though I knew what they were doing was wrong, I couldn’t help but route for them and for the both of them to have a happy ending in some way or another. Forbidden is an extremely emotional read and one that had me thinking about it for days afterwards. I actually read it over half a year ago and have only just been able to be in a place where I feel I can write a proper review of it. The ending of Forbidden made me cry so hard that I actually had trouble finishing the book because I couldn’t see the words on the page.
Obviously, due to the subject matter, this is not a book for younger readers but it is a book that addresses some serious issues in a beautiful and sensitive way. A fantastic book overall and from an insanely talented writer.