Monday, March 28, 2016

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Lochan Whitely and his sister Maya are the corner stones of their family.  Their mother is a selfish woman who resents her children and would rather spend time and money on herself than supporting and caring for Lochan, Maya and her other three children.  It is Lochan and Maya who make sure the children are ready for school each morning, collected from school, have dinner, do their homework, and go to bed.  Their mother pretends to be interested, but she would rather spend time getting drunk and partying with her latest boyfriend than looking after her family.  Their father is no better, having abandoned them years before for a new wife and family in Australia.  

The biggest fear for Lochan and Maya is that social services will learn about their mothers neglect and seperate the family - they have strategies in place to protect the younger children and make sure no one finds out what is really happening at home.  When their mother starts spending more time with her boyfriend and less time at home, it falls to Lochan and Maya to care for their siblings as surrogate parents.  It should come as no surprise that they start to grow closer to each other, that they discover they have feelings for each other.  Society may say that a relationship between siblings is wrong, but can what they are feeling really be that wrong?  As they struggle to look after their siblings, their relationship changes and grows becoming more - and closer to crossing the line into completely taboo.  

Forbidden is one of the most powerful, and heartbreaking, novels I have ever read.  The doomed relationship between Lochan and Maya is doomed from the start, yet as each page turns you can see the forces that seem to conspire to drive them to each other.  Their mother is a selfish and abusive mother who abandons her children to take care of her own pleasures - a profound and long lasting neglect that forces Lochan and Maya to seek support and comfort in each other.  Lochan also faces intense forces from mental illness - anxiety is clearly stated, but there are other more subtle signs beneath the surface too.  With the climax of the story comes undercurrents of emotions from the rest of the family - and to be honest I went from loathing the mother to outright hating her.

This is a confronting and emotional book to read, Maya and Lochan are carefully crafted characters that come fully to life - it was impossible not to connect with them.  Through their alternating points of view this story comes to heartbreaking life, each painful moment, each moment of forbidden joy, each moment of anguish as they fight against the emotions that continue to grow despite the social pressures they feel.  The topic is enough to put some readers off, the developing relationship and ending make me state very clearly that this novel is best read by older teens (16 plus) who are able to understand some of the issues.  

This is not a pretty read, it is messy and emotional, and it breaks your heart - which might just have been the authors point.  Highly recommended read, though it does come with the caveat that it should be read by older teens or teens with a good support network who can talk about the issues raised in the novel.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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