Regina's Reviews > Forbidden

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
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Feb 24, 11

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Read on February 10, 2011

This book was emotionally powerful, compelling. I stayed up late and read it in one sitting. The story revolves around 5 neglected and basically abandoned children who are forced to survive without parents. First abandoned by their father, and then their mother slowly withdraws from their lives by drinking and then physically removing herself from their home entirely. The two oldest children take on the care of the younger kids, everything from cleaning, shopping, cooking, helping with homework and trying to survive as teenagers themselves. I was impressed how realistically the author painted the daily care and maintenance of three young children. It is all the author describes and more. The care is all consuming and it isn’t just the care --- it is the worry and the love for the younger children by the two older children that the author adds to the story. And she does it brilliantly. One of the older children, one of the care givers – Lochlan, is in his last year of high school. He is incredibly brilliant, smart, loving, protective, but socially disabled. He cannot speak to people his age or teachers and the stress of his home life and the social pressure at school cause him to physically bite and tear at his lip until it is an open sore. When I was reading this book I truly felt his pain. It was so well done.


Don’t read any farther unless you want spoilers!

The ending of the book, I just completely disagreed with it. I know it is supposed to be a tragic love story. I knew that going in. I know that Lochlan had contemplated suicide and routinely sacrificed everything of himself for his siblings. However, I don’t think it was the only way out and I find it unrealistic that it happened in the first place. Okay, first unbelievable thing, the mother would never have cared enough to call the police or if she did care, a person like her would not have turned to the authorities. I understand that she thought he was raping his sister/her daughter. But her calling the police is so outside of her character that it is unbelievable. I could be swept away with the emotion and shock of it, but I still couldn’t get past this step of unbelievability (not a word by the way, I think I made that up). What do I think would have happened if she walked in on that scene? I think she may have likely just ignored it. She was a neglectful selfish person, she didn’t want to get down and dirty with her kids. But okay, if she didn’t do that then I think she would have screamed, yelled, been disgusted and cut off their money – perhaps ordered him out. I know she had hostile feelings toward Lochlan, saw him as his father’s son, but the step of a societal reject like her, calling the police. I don’t buy it. Second thing I do not buy, I find it completely unbelievable that Lochlan wouldn’t have been on a suicide watch in prison. I just do not buy this. Third, Lochlan would have been appointed counsel (I am not British, so I don’t know the ins and outs of the British legal system, but the UK system is very well developed and I believe he would have consulted with counsel) and counsel would have explained to him that with the testimony of his sister (the penalties for sex with someone underage in the UK are not like in the US that is my initial basis, I know the author is from the UK, so this is not everyone’s perspective) the penalties of what happened would not be that bad. I know Lochlan had done initial internet searches, but he would have consulted with counsel and been advised of the real consequences!! My understanding is that the age of consent in the UK is 16, so the sister was definitely of the age of consent (right, am I misremembering her age?). Yes add the layer of the fact that they are siblings but any lawyer would have advised his/her client that his sister was old enough to consent, thus the penalties would not have been severe – if any at all. I just do not accept that a socially disturbed boy was allowed to sit in a prison cell without a prison watch, without seeing a pychologist, with the ability to kill himself and not have his rights and the consequences of his arrest explained to him by his own legal advocate. So it is obvious, I just do not buy the ending. It is beautifully tragic. But not realistic in this modern time and not in a country with such a developed legal system.

What is the ending I would have accepted and was reasonable? Social workers immediately intervening (if the mother makes the unbelievable step of calling the police – or perhaps, more believable a teacher finds out – the teacher who had an academic interest in Lochlan). Okay, so social workers descend, the family is somewhat separated, the brother and sister are definitely separated and given counseling. Lochlan goes off to college. The older siblings are allowed to see the younger siblings under certain circumstances, but really the lives of the younger siblings improve (perhaps). The two older siblings see each other years later as adults – and it is sad, heartbreaking, but they know they can’t be together. That to me is a much better and more realistic ending, and it is still sad/hearbreaking.

I feel like the ending of Forbidden mirrored too much like the novel Atonement, which I also found way over the top – a scandal just to create emotional heartbreak in its readers (which it did for me).

Anyway, the book lost 1 star from me b/c the ending was so out of whack with reality. I know many people loved the ending, it was a partial Romeo and Juliet ending. Sorry, I just don’t buy it.
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Comments (showing 1-28 of 28) (28 new)

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Steph I felt like that when trying to rate/review "Room" by Emma Donoghue. I have this one TBR this year. Ames said it was intense.


Regina It is very intense. The older siblings taking care of the younger siblings was done so realistically, I have 4 young kids so my house is crazy and she accurately represented what it is like. The characters are written so deeply and intensely. But god, the ending.


Steph Oh man, I want to read it soon b/c of all that y'all have said about it. But, I also know I need to be in the right frame of mind first. Soon.


Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} The ending was...I don't really have words to cover it. Painful, which is an understatement. Did you cry, Regina?


message 5: by Regina (last edited Feb 11, 2011 10:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Regina Ames, I didn't cry but I still feel the pain of it today. I also had issues with the ending (view spoiler) But she wrote a beautiful story with such accuracy. The details of their daily life, the pain Lochlan experienced at school. It was so real -- I found their parental abandonment (for all 5 kids), daily tasks and responsibilities, and Lochlan's phobia the saddest part of the book.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I have this book as too read, but I'm afraid to for some reason. Everyone seems to enjoy the writing style and the story. Over emotional books just rock me to the core. I think about them for months after.


Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship} (view spoiler)


Regina This one will rock you and linger with you.


Steph I think I have this one slated for an upcoming March challenge, so I'll be able to peek at your spoilers and comment w/you more shortly.


Regina My review is finally up!


Barks & Bites Ouch, I don't think I could go through all that pain and then suffer through that sort of ending. Great review Regina.


message 12: by jD (new)

jD Regina thanks for a great review and the spoiler. This sounds like one that I will skip. Too much pain and suffering w/o some silver lining at the end.


Steph Great review, Regina. (I skipped the spoilery part, since I'll be reading it eventually.)


Laura Isn't this another Flowers in the Attic?


Regina Laura I can see the similiarities initially - abusive absent mother and older siblings are forced into the care taking pseudo parenting role. But I think only the set up is similar. I think you will enjoy it.


message 16: by Laura (last edited Nov 02, 2011 12:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura I see the similarities! I am halfway through and enjoying it, she writes so beautifully, you can just feel the emotion, so descriptive!!! And the characters are so alive!!! Is it wrong that you kind of are rooting for them as you read? eek.


Regina I know, lol. I felt the same way. When I read it I thought that this author has clearly cared for young children before and understands what it is like to run a household. She writes that part very realistically.


Laura Yes you can just feel the chaos of the house. And I want to shake their mother for all she's worth. This book is going to break my heart isn't it? Sigh.


Regina Well, the ending didn't break my heart only because I thought the ending was not believable. (which my spoiler addresses). But I think for the majority of the readers who read this for the romance, I am likely in the minority. The first 3/4 of the book did break my heart though to read the level of lonelinees, neglect and abuse those children endured.


Laura I think it's giving me anxiety lol, the feelings when Lochan is panicking, they are just so raw and real. It's amazing.


Regina Yes! Exactly! His pain is written so well.


Laura This book has destroyed me Regina. I can't stop crying. Just read the last chapter before the epilogue.


Steph I'm getting goosebumps about the story again just from reading your posts. This story was so intense.


Regina Laura, I am so sorry. I saw you said you couldn't sleep either. Not Flowers in the Attic at all!

Steph I feel the same way reading other people's posts who are experiencing this book for the first time.


message 25: by Laura (last edited Nov 03, 2011 09:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura No not at all. But you know, I am glad it was a bit dramatic. The flourish makes the lessons more poignant. Really you could take it as a commentary on tolerance, love, prejudice, etc, especially when we consider the amount of suicides in this country due to lack of acceptance of various lifestyles (cross-cultural, interracial, same sex, etc.) Of course the subject matter here is way more taboo, but I think by exaggerating the circumstance, she succeeds in making you reflect on how these attitudes affect more common place issues. Is love and lifestyle really worth a human life whether general consensus agrees or not? Bravo to her for thinking outside of the box and making others do so as well.

On a personal note, it was just painful getting through the end of that book!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But thanks so much for the recommendation Regina, I haven't had that strong of a reaction since One Day. I have to review this one!


Regina One Day is a perfect comparison. I actually think I cried more at the end of One Day than Forbidden. Just because I thought the ending was not realistic in Forbidden. But I agree completely, it is a commentary on tolerance, etc. I also think it is a commentary on childhood neglect as well. The author did an excellent job at writing a love story that was so taboo yet got readers to buy into it.

There is a discusson somewhere on GR that the author participated in, I forgot where. She said that she wrote this book b/c she wanted to write a taboo love story and really, in most countries this was the most taboo -- most other boundaries and lines are crossable now.


Loliskulls i just found this review and i just wanted to tell you that your evaluation of the ending was exactly why i too found the ending so unbelievable, though your review breaks it down so much more thoughtfully then my own. i see what laura said about it being a statement or commentary on tolerance/acceptance and even though i came to that conclusion as well, i still found it so very unsatisfying. i feel if she really wanted to she could have made this book just as similar of a commentary with out the unrealistic ending she chose to go with but she set out to write this story obviously already with that ending in mind, which is another reason why i think it just range so false with me.


Regina Loli -- thanks for the comment. I just read your review and really enjoyed it. I agree completely that she could have made it just as powerful but with an ending more true to what would have happened once he was (view spoiler)


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