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Synopsis from BN.com: 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.
**I received this book through Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program**
Review: Imagine for a moment that you fell deeply and irrevocably in love with someone. This someone you're known your whole life and you know everything about each other. Now imagine that you couldn't tell anyone about this love because no one would approve - because that other person is your sibling. Most of us couldn't fathom falling in love with our brother/sister, but that's exactly what happens to Lochan and Maya in Forbidden. The eldest two children of a broken home, they take responsibility of caring for their younger siblings while their alcoholic mother goes out every night in an attempt to reclaim her lost youth. They find comfort in the fact that they can confide in each other; they can't talk to anyone else about their home life for fear of attracting the attention of Child Protective Services. Lochan has a kind of social phobia, leaving him with no friends, but he is thankful he has Maya. One day their relationship takes a definitive turn and they know they must keep it hidden or risk losing everything.
This book was truly heart wrenching, from the kids less than stellar home life to a love that was doomed from the start. Both Lochan and Maya showed immense strength through the entire book, doing whatever they had to in order to keep the family together. I felt for all of the children, being abandoned by their father and left with a mother who didn't seem to even want kids, seeing them only as a burden. I especially felt for Lochan though, who had the added stress of not being able to talk to anyone at school, or public in general. At least Maya had school friends to help her temporarily forget about any troubles at home. The younger child that displayed the most problems as a result of their situation was 13 year old Kit. He was always sarcastic and moody, trying to start fights with Lochan, cause problems at home, and insisted on hanging out with the wrong crowd at school. On one hand I knew he only acted this way because of the circumstances. On the other hand, I wanted to shake him for making all of their lives more difficult.
The love between Lochan and Maya was easy to feel, but it made me cringe at time because of the obvious repercussions that result from a relationship such as this. The thought of two siblings falling in love with each other didn't appall me like I thought it would, probably because these two teens in particular seemed so innocent and their family life wasn't exactly normal. Even though at one point Maya says that she never really felt like Lochan was her brother, that their relationship always felt different, the whole time I was reading I just kept wondering if the circumstances were different if the story would have played out the same. I realize that this is a work of fiction, but had they had a father and mother present who actually cared about them and took a serious interest in their lives, then I feel the incestuous relationship would never have developed. This is what I love about fiction, it allows the reader to draw their own conclusions and have some intense discussions. I have to say, even though I would never condone an incestuous relationship, it was impossible not to fall in love with these characters and root for them to find peace in their lives.
The only problem I had with this book was the "British" slang that was used. I know the story is set in Europe, but there were several words/phrases that were confusing to me. It was easy enough to look them up, although slightly inconvenient. It didn't detract from the story at all though, I still enjoyed it immensely.
Even if you feel some qualms about reading this book, please give it a chance. I author, Tabitha Suzuma, did an excellent job of tackling an extremely taboo topic and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to read this. Just make sure you have your Kleenex handy, I cried like a baby!
My rating: 5/5 stars
If you'd like to learn more about Tabitha Suzuma and her other books, please check out her webpage