Saturday, 6 August 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

I have the feeling this review is going to be pretty short as, no matter what I type, it’s never going to be enough to be able to do this remarkable book justice.

For some reason, I was expecting Forbidden to be about a boy and a girl who meet by chance, fall in love and eventually discover they are in fact brother and sister, but what I got was something much better – Lochan is seventeen and unofficial head of his family as his alcoholic mother is hardly ever there, and if she is she’s hung over or getting ready for her next night out, their dad has a new family and his younger siblings need looking after; sixteen year old Maya shares his responsibilities and the two have always been best friends, there for each other through thick and thin. What follows is definitely daring and risky to write about, and in lesser hands it could have been awful and excruciatingly uncomfortable to read, but fortunately Suzuma is an excellent writer – both in plot and narration, and by the end I was whole-heartedly supporting Lochan and Maya in their relationship, which I never expected and just goes to show how brilliant this book is as it is able to turn incest into a beautiful love story.

Forbidden is told in alternating chapters which gives you a fantastic insight into both incredibly realistic and likeable characters; I really admired their selflessness and felt for both (along with despising their mother), but especially Lochan – he has too much unwanted responsibility but accepts it with few complaints, and I also know what it’s like to be pretty shy. Their relationship develops believably – there are no icky clichés thanks to Suzuma’s beautiful writing, which is impossible to not like, but it gets pretty graphic so it’s definitely not for younger YA readers; the thoughts and consequences surrounding the relationship are very realistic too. The chaos of family life seeps through the pages, especially as all of the siblings are unique and thoroughly realistic – the adorable Willa, hyperactive Tiffin and the sulky neglected middle child Kit felt like children I genuinely knew.

Not everyone will like this book as much as I did, mainly because of the controversial and unsettling subject matter, but it is one of the most skilfully-written, powerful, shocking, emotionally-challenging, insightful, thought-provoking and heart-breaking books I have read this year – do yourself a favour and read this book.
[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.]


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