Image of Forbidden
Release Date: 
June 27, 2011
Simon Pulse
Reviewed by: 

“The poignant and shocking ending will leave the reader pondering this story long after the final page is turned.”

Forbidden is the latest young adult novel by British author Tabitha Suzuma. It’s a contemporary love story with an edge. Reminiscent of V. C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic, the protagonists in this young adult novel are star-crossed lovers in an untenable situation.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya are in love. There’s just one problem—they’re brother and sister, hence the title of the book: Forbidden.

After their father abandoned the family to start afresh, Lochan and Maya’s irresponsible, alcoholic mother continues her downward spiral. She takes up with a younger man and all but abandons her children. The teenagers are two of five children. As their mother spends increasingly more time away from home, Lochan and Maya have no choice but to care for and protect their younger siblings. They’ll do anything to keep the family together and under the radar of the local child protective services.

Trying to parent a rebellious 13-year-old in addition to an 8- and 5-year-old, would try the patience and ability level of the most astute and patient adult. Imagine struggling to accomplish this feat as a child yourself with little money, few resources, and homework to juggle.

Lochan and Maya develop a second sense about each other. The fear and constant stress they share draw them closer than the average teen siblings. Alone and left to their own devices, they’re functioning in the role of parents. A slip into the husband and wife role is not far behind. Only heartache and tragedy can follow.

Forbidden has a built in “yuk” factor: sexual contact between siblings. It’s to the author’s credit and storytelling ability that such feelings on the part of the reader are minimized.

Ms. Suzuma does not accomplish this by glossing over the sexual activity. She thoroughly explores it and the accompanying feelings of confusion and disgust the protagonists experience. Author Suzuma plumbs the depths of emotion the star-crossed siblings experience. She gets into the heads of these teens and exposes their love, lust, doubts, insecurities, and needs. Ms. Suzuma’s ability to dig so deeply into the various layers of human need and desire across several strata—physical, emotional, situational—renders a cringe worthy premise another human experience to evaluate.

The poignant and shocking ending will leave the reader pondering this story long after the final page is turned.