Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

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Summary: 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 de facto 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 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.

What Rhea thought: 

“At what point do you give up – decide enough is enough? There is only one answer really. Never.”

It’s taken me weeks to get to reviewing Forbidden. I finished it back in March and I’d made up my mind never to ever talk or even think about this book again. Recently though, a friend of mine asked me about it and she was just as devastated – if not more – as I was by the time she finished reading it.

Without beating around the bush – “Forbidden” refers to the taboo of incestuous love. That’s what the book is about. But that’s not ALL it’s about. 

I can see how some people might find the entire concept revolting. I’m not one to judge, and I’m definitely not squeamish. At least not about the sex lives of consenting parties, no matter how taboo. But reading this book has finally helped me understand the depth of something I’ve never fully understood.

You don’t choose who you fall in love with.

I wish I could say that I was hung up on this book for weeks after finishing it. Truth is, it was so sad, so heart-breaking, that I didn’t want to think about it and the fate of the characters at all.

Lochan and Maya’s love is called “deranged” in the book.

It’s not. Not to me. Not when it comes to these two.

And then you finally reach the end. Reading that last chapter in Lochan’s point of view DESTROYED me. I’ve never read a suicide in a POV before and I know for a fact that I’ve never cried harder. Because what would you have told Lochan to stop him? 

That the future he had envisioned for himself and Maya would see the light of the day? It wouldn’t. 

That everything would be magically alright if he lived? It wouldn’t. 

That they had hope? They didn’t.

The epilogue was somewhat expected. Needless to say, that gutted me too. Where Maya was so sure of suicide, suddenly she wasn’t. That she decided to live for the sake of someone other than herself made her the real hero.

Ms. Suzuma, you’ve made me see something I never had before. You’ve done something extraordinary here and I couldn’t be more in awe of you. Thank you.

I will spare you a retelling of this beautiful story. Mostly because I can’t go through it all again, and also because you just need to read it for yourself. But I will leave you with this:

You’ll weep. 

You’ll ache. 

You’ll scream.

Read it immediately.

I’ll be here with tissue papers.

Final Verdict: I’m going to remember this book for a long, long time. ★★★★

About the 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. 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.

Find Tabitha on Twitter and her website.


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