Review: C.J.: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma - siblings doing Things yes that kind of Things


title: Forbidden
author: Tabitha Suzuma
pages: 418
format: Hardcover
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 2/5
Genre: Contemporary
Topics: Incest, Anxiety, Family Dysfuncction
CW: Incest, Child abuse, Suicide  




2 lemons - It was okay

Family Dysfunction is an Understatement  


Let me start by saying that I love transgressive shit. My favorite author is Chuck Palahniuk. I actively seek out books that disturb me. So my lack of "wow" in this review isn't a reflection of the subject matter. If I had to reduce my thoughts to a sentence, I think it would mostly be facial expressions. FORBIDDEN is a slow burning, heart wrenching book. There's something a little old fashioned about the writing, something a bit V.C. Andrews or Nancy Drew, and it's difficult to place it in any particular time. Entering it is almost entering another world. Even the characters speak with a poetic gravity. But all this gives a timelessness to the story of two hapless lovers, who happen to be brother and sister.

It's no easy read. I found myself alternately hand-wringing and squirming and placing my hand to my heart throughout. You can't help but sympathize with Lochan and Maya's impossible situation, even as a very deep part of you feels nauseated by a relationship you've been programmed to revile. It's a complicated story with no easy moral statements, no clear answers, and although the slow pacing made for some languorous skimming at times and the writing was incredibly okay, the relationship between Maya and Lochan--and its startling conclusion--left me deeply mired in thought. It's a book worth talking about.

Romeo and Juliet Had it Good 


Our story opens on the Whitley family. Just from the set-up, you know this is going to be a Family Drama. The mother never wanted children and is scarcely at home; most of her time is spent playing cougar with her boyfriend. The father has gone to Australia and never calls. Teens Lochan and Maya are forced to play siblings and parents both to delinquent Kit, hyperactive Tiffin, and sweet naive little Willa. I often found myself raging at their mother, but also knowing that she's the kind of person who would never take responsibility--which made me rage more, and also feel quite protective of the characters.

In this environment, it's no wonder the result is a strange relationship between Lochan and Maya. I'm not sure if Suzuma meant to write it as a pure, sweet love; perhaps because of my background, I read it as unhealthily co-dependent. There's an aspect of Heathcliff and Cathy in it. They cling to each other, fiercely enmeshed in their own world, isolated from others by fear and choice, parentified by the lack of an adult figure. They are everything to each other. I found it a little shocking how quickly they grow used to the idea of their romantic relationship--I would have expected some more hesitancy initially. But perhaps that's part of the tragedy. It was a strange feeling, finding myself sometimes rooting for them, sometimes sickened, sometimes horrified and overwhelmed by the pathos of their abnormality. It made me want to do research, which is always a good sign that a book has made me think. I think the ending really underscored the tragedy of it all: in this world, their romance is abomination. Should it be? Was it a phase? Was there another way? Are we supposed to support them or assume they need therapy?

The best part of the book was its portrayal of depression and anxiety. I've rarely read such a thorough, accurate description as Lochan's. He suffers from extreme social anxiety, to the point of having intense panic attacks at school when forced to speak to anyone. He also experiences soul-crushing depression, tinged with hopelessness and marked by the occasional outbursts of temper and self-harm. His POV chapters are electric and claustrophobic with the feeling of being trapped and beset on all sides. By contrast, I thought Maya was a bit fluffy. She's the one who immediately accepts their relationship, sees it as them against the world. Her personality seems less distinct. Lochan was her whole world, and I couldn't help but feeling the horror of that, and knowing it wouldn't end well.

That Ending Though 


Whatever you think of the sibling relationship, you'd have no soul if the ending didn't give you pause. I admit, I didn't see it coming. Not because it didn't make sense, but because the last few chapters are so frenetic and fraught after a period of seeming contentment that it comes as a slap in the face. I was left with so many questions, for myself and the world. How could such an attraction like this occur? Was it the neglect of their circumstances? Would they have grown out of it? Is it wrong for society to see it as wrong if it's two consenting parties? Am I wrong for being disturbed? Despite my hangups with the pacing and tone, I'm glad I read FORBIDDEN. It was mediocre as a book but interesting as a story. It's always good to be thrust out of your comfort zone and to question everything you've accepted as true. I have a feeling I'll think of this one for a long time.


My thoughts overall


A thought-provoking family drama that doesn't quite hit the mark.

Will I read this author again? Not sure. No strong desire.
Will I continue this series? N/A  


More Reviews for Forbidden  


Originally posted on Andi's ABCs New To You Feature


Note: I received this copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.  

2 comments:

  1. I've been meaning to read this novel. I'm a huge V.C. Andrews fan and also enjoy disturbing stories. Ready to get my heart broken and thanks for reviewing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah definitely pack some tissues before you get too far in. It's a wild ride.

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