Friday, 4 June 2010

Review: Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma

Forbidden – Tabitha Suzuma

Published: May 27th 2010, Definitions

Acquired: Sent to me by Random House

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Maya and seventeen-year-old Lochan have never had the chance to be 'normal' teenagers. Having pulled together for years to take care of their younger siblings while their wayward, drunken mother leaves them to fend alone, they have become much more than brother and sister. And now, they have fallen in love. But this is a love that can never be allowed, a love that will have devastating consequences ...How can something so wrong feel so right?

What I liked: Teen incest is an understandably taboo subject that is hardly touched on in YA fiction. Some people may agree this is quite right and such a topic shouldn’t be written about. However, novels like Forbidden are proof that any issue can be turned into a beautiful story, as long as the writing and story are powerful enough.

Maya and Lochan are well-written characters who I couldn’t help but sympathise with. Particularly Maya, it felt as though we were supposed to warm to Lochan above all other characters but, for me, it was Maya who went through the biggest journey throughout the book and I really did like her character.

One of the things I liked the most about Forbidden is that it’s a truly unique story. So rarely are incest, alcoholism and domestic violence tackled within a novel aimed at young people but Suzuma really does pull it off. Her writing is sensitive and understated, instead of throwing it in the reader’s face that these children have been abandoned and left to fend for themselves it’s all written very subtly and that’s something I do enjoy.

The climax of this book is fantastic and something that really shocked me. I think Suzuma is a brave, honest writer and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

What I didn’t like: Although I thought Forbidden was a great story that I would recommend. There were hints in the book that made me feel as though this was just a second or third draft, as opposed to a finished product.

At numerous points the book began to meander for a chapter or two before something noteworthy happened and, while I understand that could have been put in to represent the children’s lives and the calm before the storm etc, it’s not something I enjoy in a novel that would have otherwise received a much higher rating.

I did have an issue with the names, as well. That’s something that’s completely down to personal taste but it is something that grates on me. I understand having characters with unique names but I did feel the names had been purposely chosen to be ‘quirky’ – something I’m not a fan of.

Final thoughts: A disturbing but tender love story

Read if you liked...: Sarah – J.T Leroy


Plot: 4/5

Writing: 3.5/5

Characters: 4/5

Cover: 3/5

Total: 14.5/20


  1. I've been really curious as to the reactions to this book so I'm glad to hear that such a controversial issue has been handled sensitively.

    I also know exactly what you mean about the names. That gets on my nerves! Great review, Carly!

  2. Sounds like a very heavy subject that's been tackled by a YA author...I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the review and the awesome interview with the author.


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