Monday, July 15, 2013

Review of Tabitha Suzuma's 'Forbidden'

Goodreads Description:

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.

About Author:


Tabitha Suzuma was born in London, the eldest of five children. She attended a French school in the UK and grew up bilingual. However, she hated school and would sit at the back of the class and write stories, which she got away with because her teachers thought she was taking notes. Aged fourteen, Tabitha left school against her parents' wishes. She continued her education through distance learning and went on to study French Literature at King's College London.

After graduating, Tabitha trained as a primary school teacher and whilst teaching full-time, wrote her first novel.

A NOTE OF MADNESS tells the story of seventeen-year-old Flynn, a piano prodigy who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In 2004 Tabitha Suzuma left classroom teaching to divide her time between writing and tutoring. This gave her time to write her next four novels:

FROM WHERE I STAND - a psychological thriller about Raven, a deeply disturbed teenager in foster care who self-harms and harbours a dreadful secret.

WITHOUT LOOKING BACK - about teenage dance sensation Louis, who suddenly finds himself uprooted from his home and whisked abroad on holiday by his mentally unstable father, until he sees his face on a missing person's poster.

A VOICE IN THE DISTANCE - a sequel to A NOTE OF MADNESS about Flynn and his continuing struggle to cope with his bipolar disorder without jeopardising his career or losing the girl he loves.

FORBIDDEN - Maya and Lochan are in love... But they are brother and sister.
Published in six different languages, this is her most controversial and heart-breaking novel to date.

HURT (out Sept 2013) - At seventeen, Matheo Walsh is Britain's most promising diving champion. He is wealthy, popular - and there's Lola, the girlfriend of his dreams. But then there was that weekend. A weekend he cannot bring himself to remember. All he knows is that what happened has changed him. Mathéo is faced with the most devastating choice of his life. Keep his secret, and put those closest to him in terrible danger. Or confess, and lose Lola for ever . . .

Tabitha Suzuma's books have been nominated for a number of awards including the Carnegie Medal, the Waterstone's Book Prize, the Jugendliteraturpreis and the Branford Boase Book Award. She has won the Young Minds Award, the Stockport Book Award, and the Premio Speciale Cariparma for European Literature.
My Review:
I just finished this book and wow, just wow. This book was mind-blowing, disturbing, traumatizing, and really amazingly good. The writing is impeccable, lyrical, and overall beautiful. The story is intense and touching. The characters are remarkable and flawed. A friend of mine recommended this book and I wasn't too sure what I was getting into based on the description and I was a touch apprehensive. I went with the recommendation though and am so glad I did. This book left me in tears and had me rethinking all preconceptions I had about relationships and what is considered 'acceptable'.
The story is told from two points of view; Maya and Lochan. They are brother and sister, but they are thirteen months apart in age, she is sixteen and he is seventeen, and have the roles and responsibilities of parents. Their father left them and their three younger siblings five years prior to the start of the book, and their mother is an alcoholic and basically abandons them for her younger boyfriend. She provides money when threatened with the authorities, but that is pretty much the extent of her involvement with her kids. She comes around occasionally, but is more like a child herself and does little to no parenting. Maya and Lochan have taken over the role of parents in a desperate attempt to keep their family together. Maya is fairly normal mentally, but Lochan suffers from extreme social anxiety and overall generalized anxiety due to the massive amount of pressure he is under with being both a student and a parent. They eventually realize that they are in love with one another and somehow it doesn't seem weird or wrong in this story. They have always had equal, parental roles and have never really viewed each other as brother and sister. They try to deny their feelings knowing it's wrong, but they eventually give into their feelings. I won't give any more of the story away, but needless to say a love story of this kind cannot have a happy ending.
Throughout this book I grew to care about and love these two main characters and their younger siblings, and without meaning to, began to approve of their relationship and root for them. The characters are all so flawed, but likeable and understandable. I was actually a little disturbed by how much I cared for these characters and their socially unacceptable relationship.
This sort of subject matter is very sensitive and hard to make understandable, but Suzuma wrote it so well and with such care. It really changed the way I view the world and societal norms. It is quite remarkable when a writer can write such an addictive and real story and get their readers to rethink the world and society. I now have the urge to go out and get my hands on everything Suzuma has written. This book really just took my breath away.
My Rating:

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