Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma

“I gaze at the small, crisp, burned-out black husks scattered across the chipped white paint of the windowsills. It is hard to believe that they were ever alive. I wonder what it would be like to be shut up in this airless glass box, slowly baked for two long months by the relentless sun, able to see the outdoors – the wind shaking the green trees right there in front on you – hurling yourself again and again at the invisible wall that seals you off from everything that is real and alive and necessary until eventually you succumb: scorched, exhausted, overwhelmed by the impossibility of the task. “

16 and 17 year old Maya and Lochan are the eldest of five siblings. With an alcoholic for a mother and a father who disappeared when Lochan, the eldest, was 12, the day to day running of the household is left to them. 13 year old Kit is a typical annoying teenager, Tiffin is a cheeky eight year old and Willa is an adorable five year old. They are happy but all understand that if anyone found out about their position they wouldn’t be allowed to live the way they do. But with Maya and Lochan acting as Mum and Dad for the family, feelings start developing and they find themselves in a situation that isn’t just wrong… it’s possibly jail sentencing.

So, you know Forbidden is about an incestuous relationship before you actually read if because of the synopsis. Its about a brother and sister who fall for each other. That might put people off, as it did me before I started hearing great things about it, but now I’ve read it I honestly think everyone should read this book.
The story is a brilliant contemporary tale of struggle and first love. Theres more about the two individual struggles with their lives and looking after their family than there is about the relationship that develops and you get to actually witness that developing. You get a brilliant insight to their lives, both at school and at home, separate and together and their feelings. I couldn’t get enough of the story because it’s a real rollercoaster of emotions and keeps you gripped right from the very start.
The characters were amazing. Maya and Lochan are obviously the main ones, its told in first person, split perspective, with the chapters alternating between the two of them. I loved the way it was told and you really got into the two mind spaces. I would have liked toi know a bit more about Maya if Im honest because we got a lot from Lochan about his school work and ambitions but not so much from Maya.
The other characters were just as incredible. You cant help but fall for Mayas cuteness, chuckle at Tiffin’s cheekiness and want to slap Kit for his bloody teenage-ness! They are all really well developed characters and you can really see how much Maya and Lochan love them. The other, smaller characters are also quite interesting; Mayas best friend is quite amusing and Lochans English teacher really intrigued me, I want to know more about her!
Then we get to the kids’ mum. Wow… I honestly think that she could battle with Professor Umbridge for the character who makes my skin crawl the most! I hated her, with a passion. She was selfish, nasty and a drunk; three of the worst qualities you can find in a person. I would never say this lightly but if that character was run over I wouldn’t have felt an inch of sadness for her!! Every time she made an appearance I wanted to throw the book at the wall.. but that’s all part of Suzuma’s style. There has to be some brilliant writing in plce to make a reader hate someone that much.
Forbidden really was an emotional rollercoaster and not one for the fainthearted. It has sadness, confusion, love and happiness running the entire way through and I would honestly recommend it to everyone! I loved the story and it really does punch you in the gut when you read it. You literally spend the entire book hoping that Lochan and Maya find a way to be together and I spent most of it thinking “I know its illegal but they aren’t hurting anyone!!”
Forbidden was released in 2011 by Definitions, A Random House imprint. My copy was kindly given to be as a birthday present from the lovely Laura at Scattered Figments

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  • Hanna

    I only heard about this one a few days ago (probably because it’s Banned Book Week) but I’m dying to read it already. People seem to either love the beauty of it or are totally disgusted, so it must be a strong book at least.

    Great, honest review 🙂

  • Kate

    Ahh, books which mess with your head 😛 I’m definitely reading this one soon. It looks absolutely brilliant and sounds equally crazy.

    I find it odd that so many people want them to be together. I mean, it’s mental. I need to read it to find out how this want can be possible 🙂 Great review

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