I didn’t know how I was going to react about an incestuous love story, but I certainly didn’t expect myself to be pulling for the characters to get together in a nearly impossible situation. Suzuma takes a taboo subject and humanizes it, forcing you to see the fear and mental anguish that the characters feel while still being pulled together by their circumstances.
The plot centers around Lochan and his sister Maya, who is 13 months his junior. They have always felt more like best friends than brother and sister, and have been forced to become full-time caretakers to their 3 younger siblings after their father’s abandonment to his new family across the world, and their mother’s abandonment to alcohol and boyfriends. Lochan is troubled by severe panic attacks and crippling social anxiety, while being required to act as a father to his young (often quite rebellious) charges. The only person he feels he can be himself with is his sister, with whom he shares parental responsibility while constantly dodging the threat of their family being torn apart by Child Services. Feelings grow, and things get complicated.
The story is written in turns from both Maya and Lochan’s perspective, which really helped me to connect with both characters. Their lives are complicated at best, and heartbreaking at worst, and I found myself crying several times from the emotional roller coaster. Suzuma somehow captures an unbelievably complicated range of emotions for her main characters, and I honestly have no idea how she did it. Highly recommended.
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Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma