Saturday, June 25, 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Tabitha Suzuma
Simon Pulse
457 Pages

I know most people reading this review have the forgone conclusion that Forbidden is a book about incest.  But the book I read was about so much more.  It was about a boy, a child, Lochan, who gave up his childhood at twelve so he could keep his four other siblings together one of whom was just a baby.  It was about how he tried to make it all seem like it didn't bother him, how he made it look effortless and easy when each and every minute was a struggle and then he finds out that his sibling, Maya, only 13 months his junior, understands and sees through the cracks and for five years they raised the kids as father and mother, always putting the younger children's needs before their own needs, even though they are children themselves.

Their mother, if you could call her that, more like a baby machine, was there for them in the beginning but the older they got, the less she was there.  And when she was, she was usually drunk.  Her presence was more of a bother than a help.  And to get money from her Lochan, or Lochie as they called him, would have to resort to blackmail threatening to show up at her new boyfriend's house with all the kids in tow, suitcases in hand until she paid up.  There was still barely enough to get by.  At one point he's dropping his youngest sister off at school, Willa and he thinks, "For a moment I just stand and watch her go, her fine golden hair streaming behind her in the wind. Her gray pinafore is stained with yesterday's lunch, her school coat is missing its hood, her book bag is falling apart, her red tights have a large hole behind the knee, but she never complains.  Even though she is surrounded by mums and dads hugging their children good-bye, even though she hasn't seen her mother for two weeks now, even though she has no memory of ever having a father.  She is only five, yet already she has learned that there is no point in asking her mother for a bedtime story, that inviting friends over is something only other children can do, that new toys are a rare luxury, that at home Kit and Tiffin are the only ones who get their own way,  At the age of five she has already come to terms with one of life's harshest lessons: that the world isn't fair." (p 163-164)

Lochie was also achingly lonely.  So shy, he couldn't speak to classmates so he had no friends.  He'd never had a girlfriend.  His panic attacks were so severe I honestly thought he had a heart condition and he was going to die.  I'm sure that must be what a person that suffers from panic attacks feels like. It was terrifying to read how he was feeling as he suffered through them and to have them called panic attacks.  They seemed more like near death experiences they were so severe and left him completely shattered.  And yet, he recovered and persevered and at home was the voice of authority.  His continued existence amazed me.  I would have caved under the pressure well before then.

And then one day, during an innocent dance with his sister, he felt something for his sister that he shouldn't and he was totally disgusted with himself and pushes her away.  They are both aware that incest is wrong yet, when they are together, alone, it isn't disgusting or gross, it just seems like two teenagers in love.  They've been through so much, struggled, helped each other, kept the family together- I forgot they were brother and sister -I wanted them to have some kind of happiness, even if it couldn't last.  Lochie especially.  I felt so emotionally attached to him.  He took the blame for everything.  He even tried to keep Maya away, tried to keep their relationship from getting physical.  Any time something went wrong, it was his fault, according to him.  He was a tragic figure from the beginning to the end.

I cried through the last fifty pages of the book.  My husband looked at me and said, "Books don't usually do this to you.  Are you okay?"  I just nodded and kept wiping away the tears underneath my glasses.  When I finished, I closed the book, took off my glasses and had a great big sob fest.  I felt better, but telling the story to my husband brought a fresh round of tears.  You cannot judge the characters in this story until you know everything that happened.
So, I'm saying again, this is not a story about incest.  It's about love and just how far you'll go to protect those you love whether it be the love of your life, your sister or brother or your family.  I'll definitely read some other works by this author.  It takes a lot to get through the numbness that my meds bring on.  But she made me feel every word on every page.  It was a well told story.  It tore me to pieces and left me shattered.  That is a great novel to me.

Forgot that rating thing-Because there are some very mature themes and some sexual content I'd reserve this for the mature set.  Still, it's a very good book.



  1. Beautiful review, I've heard this book is powerful and emotionally challenging and I really need to give it a try. The characters sound like they're the type to find their way under you skin and make a home, and I love when that happens. Must add to the list!

  2. Jenny- Knowing your reading tastes, this is one you would definitely be able to handle. Her writing is so beautiful and the characters are so fragile. Very well done and you'd love how deep the characters are.

  3. Awesome review, you should see Tabitha's Facebook page, she was really pleased that someone at last recognised the book for more than just a story about incest!

    And it was an amazing book. I came close to crying!

    You should read the rest of Tabitha's books, they're all amazing; I've read all five of them :D

  4. Wow, what an emotional review... I was almost in tears just reading it.

    I haven't read the book but I think I will.

    Heather, this review was outstanding, so heartfelt and touching. Thanks for sharing this with us.


  5. Oh Heather, this is a gorgeous review. You've done such a beautiful job in conveying the emotions this book evoked in you. I know just the feeling (down to taking off eye glasses because you can't have a good proper sob without first taking them off).

  6. I LOVED this book... and CRIED and CRIED and CRIED too... so you're so not alone!
    The Bookish Brunette

  7. Thanks for all of the positive comments on my review. You all make me feel like I did justice to such an amazing book. But the author is so incredible. I'm still thinking of Lochie. Tabitha Suzuma is exceptional at writing emotion. I plan to read all of her novels.


  8. Thanks for the review. It sounds an emotional read.

  9. Fantastic review...emotional & informative with insightful analysis. You've succeeded in making me look at this book in a whole different light.

  10. Oh great review - I was almost in tears reading this, I'd lose the fine grasp I have on my mind if I read the actual book! But I might. Its a tad more expensive than I'd normally pay however, so I'll wait to see if it gets reduced. Shah .X

  11. Beautiful review. I completely agree with you Heather! It's not a story about incest, but about love and sacrifice and heartbreak and survival.

    Loved this book! Glad you did too.

  12. Your review had me in tears all over again! I am haunted by this book. It was the most beautiful powerful and heartbreaking love story I have ever read. I have been unable to escape the ending of this book. Just today I broke down into tears again thinking about Lochie. About all of them. These characters feel so real to me...Tabitha is a true artist! Breathtaking!

  13. Tears-

    She is an artist. I've never known an author to break me down so emotionally. Stay by Deb Caletti broke me down in another way, I was one with the reader. But this one, it was the story. I cared so much what happened to Maya and Lochie. I love and hate that she made me feel that way!



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