Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Release Date: May 27, 2010
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
After reading rave reviews about this book, I purchased it for myself and finished it all in one night. The first half of the book sets some of the background of Lochan and Maya's relationship, while the second half primarily deals with how they act in regards to this relationship.
I would have appreciated knowing more background to the Whitely family situation. We are told that their father left his family to marry a new woman and start a family in Australia, and they have had no contact in years. Their mother is an alcoholic who is negligent and essentially not in the lives of her children. So it comes to the two oldest siblings, Lochan and Maya, to raise the younger children. While I can understand how this would stir up some confusion with the family dynamics, I still cannot fathom how this led to incest. No other reasons are given as to why this would occur.
I believe Suzuma wants to get the point across that this was a pure love, something uncontrollable where the two were made for each other. But I just couldn't buy into it. I didn't see anything romantic or healthy about their relationship at all, and there were far more reasons besides the incestuous nature of it.
Lochan has issues, clear and simple. He has social anxiety, as well as some anger issues. Understandable? Perhaps. But there were far too many things he did which were inexcusable in my eyes, yet Maya was constantly forgiving him and turning a blind eye. He strangles one of his siblings at one point, because he is so stressed out and frustrated with raising his siblings. That simply is not okay, and yet Maya continues to gush about how "mature" Lochan is for his age.
Furthermore, I just didn't see that he treated Maya well. He leads her on and pushes her away (which I can see how confusing these emotions would be for them), and at one point he reacts in such anger to her that he seriously upsets Maya by berating her verbally in one of the cruelest ways he could. So what does Maya do? She's upset for a little while but comes right back and starts gushing again. The irony behind this is Lochan complains that society tolerates emotionally abusive relationships, but doesn't tolerate incest and he cannot comprehend how this is okay; but I fail to see how their relationship is any better than these emotionally abusive ones.
I couldn't fathom how they felt they were doing everything for the interests of their younger siblings, when they were so selfish as to ignore the consequences of their actions. Not just the consequences they personally suffered, but their siblings as well.
This was clearly supposed to be some tragic Romeo and Juliet story, but I just didn't feel it. I should probably state that I never sympathized for Romeo and Juliet either, but I particularly didn't feel sympathetic for Lochan and Maya that things weren't working out. I didn't see how their relationship was healthy for them in any way, besides it made them happier for short times to be with each other. Yet that's often the case with any teenage relationship. Lochan made a comment at one point which I couldn't understand, as he said that it was "one thing hiding from the world, one thing hiding from the law". I'm sorry, what? It's okay to isolate yourselves from the entire world, and others including your family, but you're too scared to hide from the law? Their biggest concern was the legal aspect of it, but there were so many problems with it besides this one.
I'm giving this one star because I did not like the book, although I think that Suzuma is an extremely talented writer and my review does not reflect on her skills as a writer. The way she writes the story from both Maya's and Lochan's perspectives is stunning; the two perspectives are so drastically different that it's hard to believe they were written by the same person. I could really feel their anguish and anxiety building (particularly with Lochan). But I think this book could have dealt with issues that are rarely brought up in conversation and left to think about. I have no problem with bringing up the topic of incest, but I was unimpressed with the story as a book and how the subject matter was dealt with. Had the story not been about incest (which I truly did not like, and found disturbing as well but I feel that's a given for anyone reading this) I still wouldn't have liked the love plot between Lochan and Maya.
That being said, I know plenty of other reviewers have loved this book and said it really affected them. I want to link to one of those reviews which I think is well done, for those of you who are interested in reading this book to give you more of a well-rounded perception of it.
The Bookish Brunette has written a wonderful 5 star review on it which is posted on her blog.