Saturday, February 23, 2019

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

It's been a while since I was able to finish a book properly. I've been so busy with work that when I get home, instead of reading, I just go to sleep instead. FORBIDDEN isn't really the type of book that keeps you coming back for more and leaves you with sweet dreams, anyway. It's one of those melodramatic tearjerkers that feels an awful lot like watching a train wreck happen in real time.  

The plot of this story could basically be summarized as Romeo and Juliet with incest, written in young adult format. Lochan and Maya live in a dysfunctional household. Their father jumped ship and their mother is a low-functioning alcoholic. When they're not at school, they're taking care of their three younger siblings: Tiffin, Willa, and Kit. They've been forced into the role of parents, in a non-traditional relationship, so given how messed up their home life is, and the nature of their interactions with one another, it isn't too surprising then when they start to act more like husband and wife than brother and sister, or that behavior takes a more sexual turn.

I believe this started as a self-published work. It's very polished and displays a depth and emotional complexity that I often find to be lacking from most self-published work (and most traditionally-published work, too, to be fair). Lochan and Maya both know that what they're doing and feeling is wrong, but find themselves unable to fight the tide that's driving them closer together as their attraction and obsessive need for one another mounts. This really isn't a romance, in my opinion, both because it doesn't have a happy ending and because their relationship isn't romanticized or eroticized by the author. The characters are attracted to each other, but it's still quite clearly portrayed as bad.

Comparisons to FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC are inevitable, and while I really enjoyed that book and they are quite similar stories in some ways, I feel like the end goal is different. FitA was, in my opinion, written to shock and titillate, whereas this book feels less sensationalistic and more grimly realistic in its portrayal of dysfunctional families and the many shapes of abuse. I do think the relationship between them was abusive, and I think Maya was actually the worst of the two of them. She was the one who kept driving them closer, even when Lochan wanted to pull away. I thought it was very interesting that the author brought up female abusers, and how nobody ever believes their male (or female) accusers or even believes that there is such a thing, because in some ways, Maya really could be abusive (the things she said to Lochan when he tried desperately to end their relationship, how she didn't stop when he said 'no'). I don't think that was accidental.

Honestly, except for Lochan, I hated most of the characters in this book. The mom was awful, of course. Maya was manipulative. Willa and Kit and Tiffin were so annoying. Lochan was the true victim in this story, in my opinion, and while the doomed relationship may have been initiated at least in part by both of them, Maya was the one responsible for carrying it to its cruel and final end.

4 out of 5 stars

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