This book is called Forbidden (Definitions) By Tabitha Suzuma
This book was an amazing read. It’s a very heavy so if you want something light and fluffy go elsewhere. This book dealt with some very dark issues but also made you open your mind. I suggest if you are close minded or have strong religious beliefs that you don’t read this book. The main theme of this novel is incest and it forces you to look at this issue in a very different light.
I feel that there are two ways to review this novel. 1. To say that this book is romanticizing an abusive relationship and circumstance. 2. To say this is a book that forces you to think about what love is. What love is right and wrong? Can love ever be wrong?
I’ll start with the latter.
This book is based around a brother and a sister who are the caretakers of their three younger siblings. Their mother is a neglectful drunk who is too busy with her boyfriend to raise her own kids. This leaves Maya and Lochlan (16 and 17/18) to raise their siblings.
They see each other as equals being only 13 months apart, and have been inseparable since birth. Raising the kids together gives them a sense of being parents, almost like they are mother and father, not brother and sister. By the end of the book the kids are referred to as ‘My children’, no long just ‘the children’.
I think this factor speeds their relationship from one of companionship into one of love. The book does not start off incestuous. In fact they don’t breach any lines until half way through.
As a reader you get to know very deeply the working of both their minds. You empathize and are compassionate to the struggles of their home life. You understand how deeply they need each other. How they rely and depend on each other, not just emotionally but in every way you can depend on another person. Even without the sexual side to their relationship, they have a deep connection that is on a level most ‘regular’ couples exist on.
However, after some awkward discoveries they realize how deep their feelings are for each other. Tabitha Suzuma craftily writes this so you find yourself secretly cheering them on. Which, personally, I found to be a really odd realization considering how against societies norms this relationship is.
You know its coming before you even read the book, its out there on the blurb, but you never expect yourself to be so encouraging of something that is so… wrong?
And I think this is the beauty of this book. It never really feels wrong. In fact it feels right. And you find yourself asking, is it so wrong?
To be honest, you feel like you’re reading just another romance book, just two people in love.. but they just happen to also be related. The normalcy of it is kind of shocking.
and I know you’re sitting there going:”omg, wtf?” But read this book, tell me you’re not questioning yourself, your views.
Many times in the book the Maya and Lochlan ask, If we aren’t hurting anyone, If we are happy, Why is this love so wrong?
The quote I feel that sum is up is:
“Why is it so terrible for me to be with the girl I love? Everyone else is permitted to have what they want, express their love as they please… Even emotionally abusive, adulterous relationships are often tolerated, despite the harm they cause others. In our progressive, permissive society, all these harmful, unhealthy types of ‘love’ are allowed- but not ours. I can think of no other kind of love that is so totally rejected, even though ours is so deep, passionate, caring and strong …”
In our society incest is not permitted and it’s not any different in this book. Even though they know their relationship is wrong, they can’t stop it. Eventually they are found out and the repercussions are absolutely devastating, horrible, heartbreak, horrific.. add more adjectives here please. It’s a real tear jerk-er and leaves you with a sense of loss, in-justice, unfairness and heartbreak.
On the flip side, if you ignore what I think the author is trying to get at, is to say it’s abuse. Maya is very young. Even though she is acting ‘mother’, it is clear she is very naive. She doesn’t have a role model, never witnessed a proper adult relationship, doesn’t have worldly knowledge, emotionally and sexually inexperienced. Maya turns to the only person she feels knows who she is and can relate to her. As her best-friend and brother, Lochlan understands the stresses and responsibilities they share. He is able to be there in her life in a way a ‘normal’ boyfriend couldn’t. She doesn’t have to explain or justify the whys of their circumstances. In essence she is fragile, mentally vulnerable and emotionally immature.
Lochlan is just as destructive as Maya. He suffers from sever social anxiety and shyness. To the point where he can’t speak to anyone outside the family. He also carries around unhealthy leaves of guilt and stress. I got heavy references to some sever depression although it was never outwardly stated. As the book goes on I think he becomes more and more unhinged. They severeness of his condition is apparent when Maya tries to break it off with him. Lochlan completely shuts down and fails to function. While I’m not saying you should be happy about a break up, in a healthy mind you should still be able to function. This lack of mental stability, and Mayas emotional immaturity and desperate need for companionship, produced a relationship that you have to ask, under normal living environment and healthy mental states, would it have happened? Is this actually love? or is it a bi-product of an unstable, unhealthy, abusive, neglectful environment?
While neither forced the other into anything emotionally or physically, and I’m not a psychologist, but maybe the environment was right for emotions to escalate to places healthy minds wouldn’t go.
OR maybe that’s just being prejudice?
hmm, food for thought.
While both ideas of the book are valid and I feel have equal weight, I do believe this author wanted to illustrate this different and ‘Forbidden’ love as a legitimate form of love, more than the abusive, unhealthy kind. Definitely the main question I walked away asking was whether all forms of love are right. Are they? You tell me.
If you want to open your eyes to something you have probably never even considered questioning or even really thought about, (Besides a quick discussion about Jamie and Cersei’s questionable relationship) this is a great book.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who reads the blurb and thinks ‘that looks interesting’. It’s a bit depressing, with quite descriptive writing. It has some bad language and of course, sex scenes, so don’t buy it for your daughters 13th birthday present 😉