Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Title: Forbidden
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: June 28, 2011 (US)
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Galley Grab
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.
Forbidden deals with the taboo subject of incest, and challenges normality and the boundaries of love. I was not sure going into this book if I would be able to finish it because the subject grosses me out. I'd read a multitude of glowing reviews about it though, and part of me just really wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. I have two brothers, so that does bias my opinion regarding the relationship that forms between Maya and Lochan.

The POV switches between the characters of Maya and Lochan, who are sympathetic enough. Maya is a fairly normal girl. She is pretty and friendly and attempts to remain cheerful and to keep things running smoothly. Lochan is handsome and smart, but struggles with social phobias and anxiety disorder at school. The only place he is comfortable is at home with his family. Their father has left them and their mother is a drunk and is rarely around, opting instead to cling to the guy she is seeing and leave her kids to fend for themselves. So Maya and Lochan end up being the parental figures to the three younger siblings, Kit, Tiffin, and Willa. They do their best to run the household and keep up with schoolwork, doing everything they can to prevent child services from being alerted to their situation since that would most likely split up the family.

I don't know if I can buy completely into the relationship development of Lochan and Maya. Yeah, they've been like best friends all their lives, and they help raise their siblings as if they're the parents, and they are each other's support system, and nobody else understands what they go through except for each other. But as someone who has brothers, none of this could in any way ever push me toward incest, so I have a difficult time finding their relationship believable or the catalysts for it convincing enough. It just never feels justifiable to me at any point in the story. But, to be fair, I don't think there is anything that could have made it feel natural to me.

While I could never get behind their relationship, I do appreciate the way in which they struggle with coming to terms with their feelings for each other. The ugliness of it all isn't shied away from, and I can respect that. They aren't really comfortable with their love, either. They wonder if they're sick, if their upbringing has caused them severe psychological issues that have prompted these feelings. They torture themselves over it. And they're not naive about the consequences of anyone finding out about them. They know that acting on their love is a criminal offense, and that they could be arrested and the family torn apart. And this tortures them as well. They attempt to date normally, to stay away from each other.

This book does not have a happy ending. The synopsis says as much. It's tragic, and it really puts the story in perspective for me. While I was never comfortable with their relationship, I do feel that the consequences which they suffer are not something that they deserve. This feeling that they don't deserve the ending that they get is what, in the end, made me finally question if their love is really so terrible.

I'd recommend Forbidden to anyone looking for a book with a controversial subject, or who is interested in taboo and/or tough topics. The subject matter is handled probably as well as something like incest can be handled. There are some scenes in the book which are sexually (very) graphic, for those who wish to avoid such things.


  1. i recently read this too (after so many glowing reviews)

    i didn't mind the subject matter, but thought it was rather melodramatic O.o

    it mostly just wasn't my kind of book. i do agree wiht the consequences not being what they deserved (it was quite shocking, hey?) :)

    loved reading your thoughts on this :)

  2. Thanks for writing your review -- we found it especially helpful given that you DO have brothers, which is an important perspective. We still want to read this book, but your review (and Nomes's comment) are a good reality check against all the other glowing reviews.

  3. Thanks for the honest review. I feel like everyone else has just gushed about the book. I know I would have a hard time with believing in the relationship too, so it's nice to here a review I can relate to.

  4. Wonderful review, Jenny! I read a bit of this book, but didn't have the chance to finish it. I haven't decided if I want to try to read the rest of it or not... Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for the review. I prefer happy endings.

  6. I'm a sucker for a happy ending, but it's nice to have something sad every once in awhile. I agree with you that it's hard to imagine how this relationship could build - even if they are more like best friends and partners. I'm still intrigued.

  7. I have this on my shelf just waiting to be read. And while I like happy endings, too, I love a good realistic ending every now and again to keep me grounded. I'm looking forward to reading this one, even if it's going to be an emotional read.

  8. I want to read this one because its touched a lot of bloggers in a weird and special sort of way. I'm a bit disappointed it ends so sadly.


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