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Forbidden (Definitions)
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on 22 May 2016
So where do you start to begin to review this book. Raw, tragic, immensely sad and draining but also beautiful, so very well written and sensitively dealt with for a subject that is so taboo.
Lochan and Maya are the eldest of the children in a family neglected by their drunken, slob of a mother who no longer cares about them enough to even come home and see them anymore, to take care of them and love them like a mother should. Their father left when they were younger to start a new life with someone he met and hasn't been in their lives for years. Lochan and Maya have had to take on the parental responsibilities of their sister and brother's Kit, Tiffen and 5 year old Willa. They do all the cooking , cleaning, taking the children to school and also try to manage on very little money their mother throws their way when she can be bothered and in doing all this they too have to go to school and keep up with their homework. The pressure is immense added to the fact that Lochan at only 17 has a crippling social debility in connecting to people and conversing with anyone outside of his family. My heart ached for these two young people, that at an age so young they have been placed in a situation that gave them no choice but to carry on this awful way of life and it really upset me reading about the daily struggles they both had to contended with.
With them growing up so closely and taking on these responsibilities they have become the parents, and grown extremely close, Lochan is Maya's best friend in the whole world and they love each other dearly. They are much more than just brother and sister and when one day they kiss, things escalate from there.
To be honest It didn't shock me, I think I was more concerned with the way they were living than with an incestuous relationship developing. I actually could grasp the reasons why - it all made sense when you get into the story but the outcome of course is so different.
The characters are so well developed and I gravitated towards them so easily, I didn't want the book to end and I was holding my breathe through some of the later chapters as you know full well that them ending up happily ever after is a rare occurrence given the situation and nothing could have really prepared me for the ending of this book. I didn't cry like some people have said they did, to be honest I think I was too stunned to cry and just sad, really sad that this whole situation fell upon shoulders so young.
A really emotional, raw book that I think should be read because maybe just maybe this is not so unusual as we all think in this world we live in and who are we to judge anyway. It certainly had me thinking and I commend the author for her work. A must read !!!!!!!
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on 13 October 2016
Initial Thoughts: This book almost destroyed me. Heartbreaking.

Full Review:
Forbidden was very thought-provoking and I found myself, at times, both disgusted and sympathetic in equal measure. Having reflected on it for a few days, it is hard to look at the love between Lochan and Maya as wrong even if that is how society categorizes it.

Their family situation is completely dysfunctional. They were quasi-parents to their younger siblings, and they never really had a traditional brother and sister relationship. I couldn't help wondering if they'd had a normal upbringing would they have fallen in love or were they always destined for one another irrespective of their environment and their circumstances? It's an interesting question and one that's had me thinking about this book several days after I finished it.

Modern society has a genuine reason for saying no to incest - proven birth defects in any children born of incestuous relationships. And I get that, but my mind was contemplating all kinds of scenarios whereby it could be permitted - what if it was allowed and both parties agreed to sterilization, then the risk is eliminated. Of course, that wouldn't solve the stigma or the myriad of other issues, and I'm not saying every government should rush out and change their laws because it's a hugely sensitive complex issue, but I would genuinely feel for any couple like Lochie and Maya and believe it's wrong that society says they can't be together.

Characterization was superb in this book, with emotional depth and plenty of substance. I felt both of their pain as they struggled with their feelings for one another - as they tried valiantly to fight their attraction and burning need for one another. The irony is that the family unit was actually stronger when they were together - it made sense.

Their parents should be strung up for their neglect and I wanted to hurl my Kindle a few times, such was my loathing for both mum and dad.

I knew this wasn't going to end well but that finale still KILLED me - I was sobbing my heart out for ages and I felt an actual pain in my heart. It was horrific but compelling.

I applaud the author for her ability to tackle such a complex subject with sensitivity and grit. It was never glorified or ridiculed.

The writing was breathtaking if a little over descriptive at times - I did skim a bit.

In summary, this book had a deep impact on me and I love books that challenge my thinking and challenge social norms. This one will definitely stay with me for a long time.
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on 27 April 2016
***** five mind blown amazing stars.

I can't even...
Yeah mind blown.
I was recommended this book by a fellow bookie(also author) friend and wow. I'm so glad I took the chance and gave it a go.
Now don't get me wrong I know this book won't be for everyone but. Well it's so truly beautiful, I think any avid reader should give this a book ago and attempt to read it in its entirety. As I say I know it won't be for everyone but... It goes to prove a point. Nothing is as clear cut as it seems.
Many I'm sure will read and still feel that this story is "revolting, twisted ect" and I guess yeah everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. But I you read it. And I mean really read this book, connect with the characters you will feel completely different. In my humble opinion this love is as beautiful and pure as it can be. (Cue that hate. I know it's coming an you know what I don't care :p)

Yeah so I'm rambling but give this book a go. Tissues possibly required. And a open mind would make for easier reading.

Review will possibly change once I've recovered :)
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on 14 October 2015
It took me three days before I could even start to write this review and honestly I am still struggling to put my thoughts on paper. I don’t want to say I thought this novel was amazing or beautiful. Although this are the words that first pop into my mind. But no, honestly, I can’t say that about this book. You probably read the synopsis, so you already know it’s about incest. So saying it was a wonderful story is a bit weird and demeaning. But it was a very captivating read. And most of all it’s a heartfelt story, with a very controversial topic that really chances your view on the whole topic.
This book isn’t a romanticised version of brother and sister incest. (Think about Flowers in the attick by Virigina Andrews.) No, Forbidden is layered with pain, longing, loneliness, self-hatred and conflicted emotions. I can’t count the times that my heart broke and at the end of the book my eyes were thick and puffy from all the crying. It’s a very powerful story, but it is also one of the saddest stories I have read in ages. When I closed the book, my husband looked at me and asked his usual question. “Good book?” My answer: “No, I hated it.” I hated the way it made me feel and all the things it made me think about. It made me question everything I know about this subject.
For me personally it was a two dimensional read. I read it as a girl, who knows how it is to fall in love so completely that there is no way back. I really felt for Lochan and Maya. And my heart was breaking together with them. I really felt their longing and I even hoped for a brief second that they would find a way to be together. Because who are we in society to say something so pure is “forbidden”.
On the other hand I read this book as a mother. First of all there is the complete hatred towards the families very absent mother who has a serious drinking problem. Second of all there is of course the idea that my children should fall in love with each other and there was that disgusted feeling again. I would rage and scream. I could never tolerated that kind of relationship between my own blood and bones.
So a very conflicted read for me, but I would not have missed it for the world. I even think I will reread it pretty soon to get more out of the story then the first time, cause I am convinced there is more to get out of it.
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on 22 October 2015
It has taken me a while to write my review of this book as I really wasnt sure what to write or how.

I really wasn't sure about this book when it was recommended to me by a friend.
I mean its about a brother and sister falling in love, having sex. Seriously it is SO not my thing but after being pressed, I read it.
Surprising to myself as the story moved on and I got to know the characters better I became more understanding of their lives, the severe stress and hardships and how the sibling became lovers and in love.
It is a very taboo subject and from what I've read on the internet (after reading this book) not as uncommon as people would like to believe - I must give the writer big credit on dealing with a matter like this in a very delicate and understanding way.
There was no sensationalism or gag worthy sex scenes between the brother and sister which would have had me running. Instead I was led through by the writer and given a new perspective on how this type of thing can happen. Mad as it is to see myself write this but I was actually rooting for them in the end and very upset by what happens at the end. There were tears.
This will most like be the only type of this book I will ever read but I must say it is a very well written book and I don't think anyone could write it better. Very eye opening.
Recommend.
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on 29 August 2011
...Words cannot describe this book.

I simply read the blurb of this book on amazon and it struck me at how disgusted i was by it. Then somehow, i managed to think that maybe, a book like this would be good... different. More thought provoking.

I ordered it, it arrived. However this book seemed to have this horrible dark aurora, fed by the barbed wire illustration on the front. Just looking at the book made me feel strange. Like it had a life of its own. Harry Potter probably felt this way when he looked upon one of Voldemorts Horcrux's for the first time. Somehow, something about this book just seemed eerie.

I read every single unread book i had, purposely - subconsciously - putting off this book. The dark, sinister, dangerous-looking book just sat on my shelf, awaiting me. After i ran out of books to read, i turned to this one. Curiosity mainly was what i was running on. I knew nothing of the book except it was a love story. Between... a brother and sister?

Surprisingly, once i began the first chapter, it dawned on me that this was in fact, a book like any other. A family. neglecting parents. I've come across this kind of story before.

I was wrong.

It wasn't necessarily whilst i was reading the book that the strongest emotions towards it would form. It was when i sat back and really thought about what i'd just read. The book made it seem... not normal... but acceptable... In this situation.

It was the disgust gnawing at the back of my mind that fed the emotion behind this story to heights that not much books have ever achieved. I was disgusted, then ashamed of being disgusted, and then upset at how hard it would be for the characters in this story, because my prejudice was the enemy here.

My inner turmoil only grew worse the deeper i went into the book. The end of the book was the final hammer on the nail. It broke me to pieces. I was a wreck.

This book really, if anything, shows just how powerful literature can be at its best. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to anyone who isn't up for it. But if your looking for something different, thought provoking, controversial. This is the book that you need to read.

This book is a gem in my collection. A glowing ray of light on my shelf. And at the same time, it shadows over all the other books lined up before it, with its sinister, icy presence. This metaphor also describes the matter at hand. in which the love described in this story is heart warming, yet the situation is scarring and disconcerting. The last chapter of this book left me feeling ill. Not at the "crimes" the two have committed. But the heart-breaking way they are punished for them, when all they were really doing, was being in love with one another.

This book leaves with five stars, and a piece of me that is temporarily scarred.
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on 21 September 2010
Wow. It's hard to know where to begin with this review - or even whether to review it at all. It's always hard when it comes to books like this because the hardest to review are so often the ones that deserve it most, so bear with me and I'll do my best!

To begin with, let me say that although this is published by Definitions as a young adult novel, I wouldn't recommend it for teenagers younger than 15 or 16 due to the extreme nature of the themes. Because yes, this is a story about the romance between a brother and sister. Don't stop reading! Because it's also so much more than that...

Lochan is seventeen. He suffers from crippling social anxiety at school, and comes home every afternoon ready to take care of his three youngest siblings: wild rebel Kit, 13, mischievous young Tiffin, and sweet Willa, 5. His mother is a neglectful, alcoholic mess who barely bothers to come home any more, and his father moved to Australia with his new wife years ago. His only ray of sunshine in this darkness is his sixteen year-old sister Maya. The two have never really been like brother and sister; they are best friends and, to all extents and purposes, parents to the three children. So when they share an unexpected kiss one night, it's like the final piece of their existence has fallen into place.

The first third of the book is mostly about the family, and the way Lochan and Maya are hanging on by a thread. They have to keep up with their school work as well as cooking, cleaning, shopping, playing, supervising homework and bedtimes, and covering for their absent mother so that Social Services won't split them up and place them in care. With Kit now old enough to rebel against his brother's authority, the situation is reaching breaking point and the tension is tangible.

Once the kiss happens and changes their lives forever, this tension is only compounded by the added nightmare of falling in love with the wrong person. As their love grows deeper, the sense of dread grows ever more pervasive as they try to balance their feelings against the needs of their family and their gradual realisation of how much trouble they would face if they were ever caught. With this comes an even greater despair as they wonder how they will ever be together. Seriously, Romeo and Juliet had nothing on these two.

By alternating between Lochan and Maya's first-person, present-tense narrative, Suzuma gives a real sense of immediacy and urgency, deftly exploring the thought processes and passionate feelings that each is struggling to bear, and placing the reader squarely in the middle of this whirling dervish of emotion. You know that something has to give, that this can never end well, and yet you ache with every fibre of your being for life to finally cut these two young people a break and allow them to live happily ever after. Of course, the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach tells you that it just can't happen that way.

I closed the book with tears rolling down my face, feeling like I needed a nap - or at least, a stiff drink. This is a real rollercoaster of a read, and so skilfully written that I felt every bump along the way. Every blissful moment, every small triumph, every second of panic, every long hour of frustration and despair and exhaustion, is so beautifully evoked that I found I couldn't read the book for too long at a time without stopping and removing myself from it for a while, giving myself a break from all that turmoil!

I could go on - about the internal morality battle for both the characters and the reader, about the questions it raises about the legal implications of consensual incest (though it never feels like what happens in the novel should be labelled so harshly), about the harrowing depiction of teenagers having to step up and take responsibility for a whole family - but I won't. I'll just say that this is a complex novel about two deeply sympathetic characters in a difficult situation, which will provoke a lot of thought and reflection, skew your world perception a little, and stir up every emotion you can imagine until you tumble out the other end, exhausted. Open your mind, take a deep breath - and read it.
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on 6 September 2015
This book was a very gradual love and its a very controversial story line.. of course parts i thought no this is wrong, I can't imagine it happening in real life, it's sick but then when I got further in the story and how gradual there love was and how even themselves couldn't understand it I kind of forgot they were brother and sister and just really got caught up in there struggles as needing to be guardians to there younger siblings and getting caught up in them starting a relationship, I felt there connection, it was so strong, it hurt my heart that they couldn't really be together because of laws and judgement.. Lochie was a sweetie, when he started coming out of his shell at school and made a friend which probably only came about because now he was comfortable in his relationship with Maya, it really made my heart flutter. But I think everyone needs to know there isn't really a happy ending, it's heartbreaking and the last 10% I cried and cried.. what Lochie gave up for his family and for his love Maya will never leave me!! I wish the ending was different to be honest, but because it is incest I don't think there was any other way for a HEA. So yes you have to be very open minded about the forbidden relationships and I think you just need to go along with the journey and try understand the love they shared, it's what I did and I will never forget this story!! I'm going to miss Lochie, Maya, Kit, Tiffin and Willa.
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on 9 May 2014
A few weeks ago there was a question on Formspring asking which was the last book that made you cry. I said ''none, I don't cry over books'', which is completely true - in the 20+ years I've been reading, I've never cried over a book. Sure, I've been enthralled, emotional, shocked and heartbroken, but I've never physically shed a tear whilst reading. Until I read Forbidden.

Ms. Suzuma is a brave lady. She has taken one of the most taboo subjects and written a book about it. But as well as being brave, she is also exceedingly clever and an outstanding writer. Why? Because she made me care about two characters so very much, despite the fact that my head was screaming 'this is WRONG' the whole way through, and actually hope for a different outcome than what was the inevitable.

The writing is strong and fluid, without prettying up a tough subject - the story of Lochan and Maya and their siblings is both heartbreaking and uplifting. As teenagers they are exceedingly mature and dedicated to holding their family together, even as events spiral out of control and threaten both their physical and mental health. Both Lochan and Maya are wonderful, strong, weak, human characters - I couldn't help but have an overwhelming sympathy and admiration for them both.

If you're worried about being shocked by the subject matter of this book, I will warn you that it doesn't gloss over the facts - it's confronting in every way. But in the end, this is a story about family, and the bonds that are formed through isolation and uncertainty. This doesn't make it right, but it does make it all that little bit more....not exactly understandable, but nowhere near as twisted as I imagined it could be.

Forbidden goes straight to the top my Top 2012 reads. And not just because it made me cry ;-)
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on 11 September 2015
This book is a book about incest. This was my main preconception about this book when I first picked it up. This was all I had really been aware of, from reading and watching a few online reviews of it, and it was mainly what drew me to it. I'm a bit of a sucker for a controversial read, so I threw myself into it, expecting to find it difficult, challenging and, well, maybe a little bit sickening.

I did not expect what I found. This book is a book about incest, but it is also about so much more. This is a book about love. This is a book about family. This is a book about school, about stress, about growing up and finding your feet in the world. Above all else, for me, this book is a book about strength. This book made me think about things that usually would be inexcusable and consider them in a different light. All things taken into consideration - the circumstance, the individuals involved, the roles these adolescents are forced to play - something that I would usually regard as wrong, both legally and morally, becomes understandable, perhaps even excusable, and I couldn't help but find myself rooting for these people's happiness and this family despite their actions being of a nature of which I cannot condone.

Lochan is seventeen years old, and is crippled by social anxiety. He endures his school days, taking each painful hour as it comes, hiding in silence, counting down the minutes until his release. Maya, his sister, is sixteen, pretty and sociable, yet outside of her school life she takes on the difficult role of carer to her three younger siblings. With their mother neglectful and absent, Lochan and Maya gradually take on the roles of surrogate parents, leaning on each other for strength and support, desperate to keep their family together. Siblings, best friends, and now joint protectors of their family and household, Lochan and Maya find themselves becoming closer than any brother-sister relationship can be, and before too long they realize that there is no going back.

I say this book is about strength, and I say this for many reasons. The two find strength in each other. Lochan finds the strength to continue battling with his social anxiety. He finds the strength to talk, to try and make friends. Maya finds the strength to continue caring for the children despite exhaustion. The children find the strength to live without their neglecting mother. As a whole, the family find the strength, over and over again, to keep going. This strength really becomes apparent within the final chapters. I won't mention why here, because I don't want to spoil such a beautifully tragic book. All I can say is; read it. You will see.

What shocked me the most about this book, though, was the question it poses. If two people are in love. and are not hurting anyone, how can this be a bad thing? Why is it such a wrong thing to be in love with someone, purely because that person came from the same woman? With the possibility of producing children taken out of the equation due to the obvious genetic difficulties that would come with offspring, what is there left to criticize? People will say 'it's immoral', 'it's bad', 'it's sick', but why? If both individuals are consenting, if both individuals love each other deeply and are hurting no one by their actions, why is it so wrong?

I myself could not find an answer, and I think above all else, that is what will stick with me from this book.
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