Book Review – Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

by Maryse on January 16, 2014 · 55 comments

in My Book Reviews

<— First, I must announce this as one of my newest favorite books ever! Absolutely stunning! And the crazy thing? This book has been floating around on my iPad (and ALWAYS on my main TBR list) since April 30th 2012. Almost two whole years!! Let me tell you… this wasn’t one of those freebie or super-bargain downloads that I purchased due to my book-hoarding ways.


I purchased this one, in all of it’s full-priced glory (oh wow, I paid even more for it, back then!!) just on the recommendations alone (intense, insistent, adamant, emotional recommendations came my way every single time this book was mentioned). Here’s a sample (and I have TONS of these “Forbidden-specific” recommendations):

Athena: 5+++++++and more if possible for “Forbidden” from Tabitha Suzuma. It was a VERY taboo subject but if you can get past that you have a story of innocence, love, abandonment and ultimate sacrifice. I am in tears and in need of some therapy. Maryse you will ugly, ugly cry…you’ve been warned!

Maryse’s Book Blog: I’ve heard… and I own it. I SO wanna read it but I’m scared!!! And mostly scared of that ugly cry you’re doin’. I don’t know *why* you’re crying exactly but I have a feeling…

Lori: I’m scared too…and I don’t know if I can get past it!

Claudia: this book is great!

Athena: You need to be in a good place…it was a difficult one but soooo well written!

Maria: Maryse I know what you mean, I’m scared to read it to!

Kandace: I’m with Maryse. I’m too scared to read it.

Erin: Well damn I need to look into this one!! wow!! I just read the blurb that is TABOO!!

Tracie: This is an amazing book! You ladies should definitely read it.

Athena: @Erin, A beautiful taboo story of a functioning dysfunctional family (think Shameless, the tv show)…well minus the stupid, stupid parents, I despise them! The writer sucked me in and then spit me out.@ Maryse please read it I’m in need of a support group!!

Georgia: I agree with Athena …its been 2 days since I finished it ,can’t get over Lochan,he absolutely broke my heart over and over again. Great writing …a innocent love story….but so wrong and you want to be so right. Must read …but don’t blame me after you need therapy .

Martina:  My favourie book… one? Just one? How can I pick just one? :O I can’t. But if I HAVE TO…Tabitha Suzuma - Forbidden. It’s not an easy book, but it’s deep and it touches you.

Cat: I had it on my TBR list forever and was almost afraid to touch it.  I finally did and WOWZER!!!  What a book.  It tore my heart out.  Literary genius.

EVERYTHING they said above!!! Now that I’ve read it, now that I know it… I’m right there with you guys!

So yes, I bought it on that… and the crazy-sounding synopsis. Which is actually the MAIN reason I found myself repositioning it over and over again at the top of my TBR list… without ever reading it. This book portrays a forbidden love story, but not just “forbidden” as in Romeo and Juliet. This book depicts the true meaning of “forbidden” in every taboo sense of the word.

I don’t need to think about this anymore. What I desperately need is sleep. Otherwise I’ll fall apart. I’m going to fall apart. I am falling apart.

Oh wow. I was clutching my pajama top at “heart-level” with that one…

You know I have a thing for adrenaline-rushes, shock-value, and deep emotional connections to incredibly unconventional “love stories”. For awhile, I hid my dark secret. ;) I stayed in the “dark-read’ closet for a year (devouring those books in secret) before I finally let everyone know I was a thriller-romance-darkread addict.

And while this isn’t a dark-read, per se… (not in our sense of the word), this is equivalent in it’s taboo-nature. Oh yes. I was desperate to read it back then. Dying to, ’cause come on… how CRAZY does this sound? I knew I was in for some handwringing. But I was so afraid of well… lots of things. Where this author would take me. The frequent “had me sobbing” warnings. Knowing that I would connect (and probably fall for) that, which I shouldn’t.

Family: the most important thing of all. My siblings may drive me crazy at times but they are my blood. They’re all I’ve known. My family is me. They are my life. Without them I walk the planet alone.

The rest are all outsiders, strangers. They never metamorphose into friends. And even if they did, even if I found, by some miracle, a way of connecting to someone outside my family- how could they possibly compare to those who speak my language and know who I am without having to be told?

I had a feeling my heart would override my head. I know myself now, and I didn’t know how I would handle those feelings… and when I finally gave in and read it, I realized… it wasn’t hard at all. Sure, it’s whoa! Crazy. And sure, when you try to describe it to someone (like your husband) you find yourself explaining it in a, er… ”see, that’s why they fell in love…” way. rolleyes

Husband: So are you finally reading that crazy taboo one you were telling me about?

Me: Yep. It’s SO good. It’s crazy, and it’s like the author is writing it, telling their story in a way that while I know it’s wrong, it just feels… like I love them. Like I’m rooting for them. I dunno. They’re so alone, and all they have is each other. Their mother has pretty much abandoned them.

Husband: So they live alone?

Me: Not “officially” but she’s an alcoholic and a sort of “party girl” that spends days and nights away, and when she is home, she’s passed out – recuperating… so the two eldest (16 and 17 years olds) have to take care of the 5, 7 and 13 year old. And they’ve been responsible for them for years like that. Sharing in the care taking. Homework, bedtime, dinner, cleaning, discipling… the two oldest siblings were raised as “partners” vs siblings ’cause of their responsibilities. They never got to be kids, and they never really got to be “siblings”, like fight, argue, get jealous or competitive. They’ve been “parents” for years, to stay off of social service’s radar. So they can stay together.

Husband: but, like… you find out that they’re only like… step-siblings right? Not even related?

Me: Umm…. no. I’m pretty sure they were full on siblings.

Husband: Maybe the mother had them from two different fathers?

Me: Yah… that totally could be true… but it’s never mentioned that way. I don’t know that that would be any better anyway…

Husband: Oh yah. No. So… they KNOW they are full on siblings? There’s no twist where they didn’t know it, and just met as strangers or something? They know it and they fall in love anyway?

Me: *blink blink*

Husband: *blink blink*

Me: Yep. Er… but. They… but. Umm…. They’re not… it’s different. They haven’t been able to interact socially on a normal level with other kids, or have crushes or you know… stuff. They go to school and stay off the radar. So, it’s always just been… them.

Husband: *blink blink*

Me: *blushes* You just had to be there. *huffs* Okay… I know it sounds weird. ‘Cause it is. *sigh* You just have to read it.

So yep… this book is full-on taboo, and probably THE most taboo (yet supremely eloquent) story I have ever read. So touching and so beautifully poignant and so emotionally distressing. On many levels. And in many ways.

He is my brother, my best friend. The idea of anyone seeing him like this, so close, so exposed, is suddenly unbearable. What if they hurt him, broke his heart? I don’t want him to fall in love with some girl – I want him to stay here, loving us. Loving me.

The perfect read (for me)… the reason I read. For the emotions a story (and writing) like this illicits. And the perfect story for those that like to read unconventional love stories. Stories that really make you think, and that take you out of your comfort zone by MAKING you comfortable… right there (where, in real life, you never imagined being). Can you imagine? This author does that.  This story is for readers that accept, and maybe even enjoy indulging in that risk, with a story that might go any way.

I’m desperate to escape myself because the truth of the matter is that the feeling is still there – perhaps it has always been – and now that I’ve acknowledged it, I am terrified that however much I may want to, I will never be able to turn things back.

This, by a brilliant and eloquent author. Persuasive, exquisitely descriptive yet delicate in her approach. This is the ultimate, perfect example of “show-not tell” storytelling. And one that takes an amazing risk, and had me right there with her characters every single step of the way.

“Maya, what the hell are we doing?” Although his voice is barely more than a whisper, he sounds close to tears. “I don’t understand. Why – why the hell is this happening to us?”

5 stars!!!!

P.S. Does it have an HEA? Er… I’ll let you read the synopsis on Amazon. ;)

Let’s just say, no matter what I thought I knew, what I expected, and the many things I guessed a long the way (in fact, I may even have known something via a “remembered spoiler” that I can no longer pinpoint two years later), I still experienced this book BIG time, every step of the way. For once, potentially suspecting I “might” know the ending (but wasn’t 100% sure since I waited so long to read this), it did not affect my reading of this book in the least. L-O-V-E-D!!!!!

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Lise January 16, 2014 at 9:28 PM

What a stunningly beautiful review, Maryse!

Maryse January 16, 2014 at 9:59 PM

Thank you Lise!!! *hug* It was an easy one to write! :D

Maria January 16, 2014 at 10:00 PM

You finally did it! Ok, I will start the read to, I’ve been so scared of this book and the emotions that go with it! My friends have been hounding me, so I’m going to bite the bullet. Thanks Maria

Maryse January 16, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Support is here (and on our Facebook) for you, Maria. ;) It’s SO worth it!!

Rachel January 16, 2014 at 10:06 PM

I know it doesn’t have a hea, but I just don’t know if I can take it. Does it have a conclusion? The Opportunist destroyed me, but I could handle it because I had a conclusion, kwim? I’m just really nervous for this one!

Maryse January 16, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Er… all I can say is it doesn’t end of a cliffhanger. So… yes? ;)

Celeste January 16, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Thank you for this review! I first read Tabitha Suzuma last year – I read her ‘Hurt’ which was SIMPLY AMAZING. I agree that she’s brilliant. I’ve run out of superlatives, you know? After I read Hurt, I read a few of her other books, and didn’t like them as much, but I still was blown away each time by the level of her writing. I’ve avoided Forbidden because I just can’t handle that topic, but I find myself reconsidering it, especially after your review. Also, if you haven’t read Hurt, I cannot recommend it enough.

Maryse January 16, 2014 at 10:25 PM

Oh I am SO ON “Hurt”. Thank you Celeste!!!

Maryse January 16, 2014 at 10:44 PM

Oh no Celeste!!! I was going to download it from Amazon immediately and start it but is it only in paperback? *sobs*

I’m going to research a bit harder…. I WANT TO READ IT SO BAD!!!!

Okay… looks like ebook version is only available in UK right now. GAH!!!!!

I can buy the print copy. *sigh* Holding books and turning pages gives me hand cramps. LOL!

Louise January 16, 2014 at 11:02 PM

Is it worth $8.54 -e-book? I don’t pay that much for an author I don’t love already. Decisions. Decisions. Maryse–you’ve never steered me wrong…..and I have been patiently waiting for it to be a bargain buy. *sigh*

Maryse January 16, 2014 at 11:06 PM

To me? Yes. It has EVERYTHING. A unique story, full of drama and suspense and anticipation and butterflies like CRAZY! GAH! I felt so wrong having butterflies. That’s how good this author is!!

Plus, it’s the perfect length for us to experience them fully and get to know them and to to develop strong emotional attachments to them. Nothing rushed (but nothing drawn out, either).

And the writing… OMG the writing!!!! These characters felt so REAL. Oh yes. This is a quality, stand-out book. I paid $9.99 for my Kindle copy a couple of years ago, and I don’t regret it a bit.

Louise January 16, 2014 at 11:08 PM

Aha. Sold. :)

Diane January 16, 2014 at 11:28 PM

This was at my library. It’s actually YA which didn’t seem right to me. I googled YA and found CNN posted an article yesterday about YA books and sex and specifically discussed Flowers in the Attic, interesting.

Maryse January 16, 2014 at 11:44 PM

Yes… I wouldn’t consider this YA. They may be under 18 for a good portion of the book, but the subject matter and issues at hand are not YA (not to me, at least).

Diane January 16, 2014 at 11:48 PM

So good though, so glad you mentioned it in your post!!

Amy January 16, 2014 at 11:53 PM

Did you cry? Did ya? Did ya?!? If not, kudos to you. And some hibiscus vodka. Forbidden gutted me. Gutted. Me. I did not expect to be affected like I was. It’s wrong and we aren’t supposed to condone it, right? Yeah, that moral went out the window pretty quick once I started getting to know them. I read it a year ago and *still* remember it so well. I wanted to jump in and be their momma. :(

Swaths January 17, 2014 at 1:37 AM

Maryse, I really liked the way how you mentioned that the way they were brought up is more like parents bringing up their 3 siblings (like children) rather than as siblings. I think that kind of influenced the dyanamics of their relationship. I read this a couple of months back and had a hard time digesting the taboo story but it kind of slowly grew up on me. The ending I think is one of the most heart rending and I really cannot think of any other ending to such a relationship. A well narrated book and as usual a great review !

Celeste January 17, 2014 at 2:34 AM

Sorry, I didn’t realize the e-book was only available in the UK! I was given it as a gift. All I have to say is, you won’t regret the purchase at all. The story haunts me still.

Di-Ann January 17, 2014 at 6:29 AM

SHATTERED, while that may seem like a melodramatic response to a book I can think of no other! Finished Forbidden in the wee hours of the morning and still trying to cope! In my 45+ years and thousands of books later in my reading lifetime never has a book made me cry (Sea of Tranquility, close). While some may say it is similar to Flowers in the Attic, I say not even close! Such a beautifully well written story!

TARA January 17, 2014 at 7:58 AM

One of or possibly my favourite book ever! Tabitha Suzuma is genius. This book is genius.

Just wanted say thanks for all your great reviews and recommendations :)

Cezanne January 17, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Great review Maryse! This has been sitting on my tbr for a while as well.

Jean January 17, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Wow, what a review! Now, I think I want to read it…..but I also saw a spoiler and was afraid to read it since I kinda know how its going to end! But your review definitely makes it sound like its worth my time and money!

Heather January 17, 2014 at 10:13 AM

I took the plunge with you after reading your first post the other day and also having it on my reader for a while. I thought the writing took a little to get used to at first but loved it as well and then couldn’t stop reading and now can’t stop crying!! Found myself rooting for them and a way for it to work…..Hate that their parents did this to them and how they tried to hold that family together. Oh Lochie…….

Belle January 17, 2014 at 1:18 PM

I caved and bought it, but I’m terrified to read it. Im in the same closet you were in Maryse, but love to read stories that are out there. No Harlequin Romance stories for this girl.

kristi January 17, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Maryse….Just finished Forbidden. I…wow…what to say? I dunno what to say. Rarely has a book left me speechless until now. Excellent read. Thanks for the recommendation.

Brandy R. January 17, 2014 at 7:53 PM

I knew you would love it. I tried to explain it to a friend and they looked at me like I was sick for even reading it. Then I tried to explain why it was okay haha yeah they were not even listening at that point. You get so pulled in you just forget that they are even related. I know I did. And that ending!!!

Louise January 17, 2014 at 11:33 PM

That has to be the most heart breaking story I have ever read. I’m gutted. Speechless. Gutted. Oh yes I said that already. And this was a really different kind of angst & being torn. Ok is guess I am not that speechless. I need therapy. Geez

Lisa M January 17, 2014 at 11:38 PM

I’m speechless!! Just finished It! I’m devastated! Heartbroken!! Amazing story so gut wrenching!! I had to read it after all the buzz from everyone. Even the price didn’t faze me!! I feel so sad and definitely need a light book after this!!

Marion January 18, 2014 at 12:27 AM

I have never in my life been so conflicted about a book in my head i knew i should be morally outraged but my heart bled for Lochan i completely empathised with his plight.Being rejected by the adults who should always be there for you being made to shoulder their responsibilites at such a young age its no wonder he was socially inept.
Tabitha Suzuma is so brilliant a writer that i felt & understood Lochans every emotion I even understood him at the end.
I finished the book last night, just woken up and it was my first thought i think it will consume me for a while.
As a single mother to a 7yr old boy what I have taken away from reading this literary masterpiece is that no matter how busy or stressed i am I shd always make time for my boy his childhood is fleeting and its my responsibility to make it as fun- filled comfortable & worry free as possible.

THY January 18, 2014 at 1:52 AM

Yay!!! So glad you’ve read it. One of my absolute favourites. Lochan and Maya were so vividly portrayed, they were so REAL, esp Lochie. I still feel so sad just thinking about him :( ((

Lisa January 18, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I finished Forbidden last night and had to wait until this morning to post my thoughts because its rare for me to be speechless. I agree with Marion, Louise and Lisa M that I am also gutted, heartbroken! I found myself really torn in that what they were doing but my heart ached for them. I was/am devestated. Just as I was was when I read Arsen. Going to have to find a lighter read for this weekend!

Michelle January 18, 2014 at 6:07 PM

Just finished, and can’t even find the words to say how deeply this story touched me. Every page. Every scene. The simple but eloquent words. The completely real dialogue. There was not one wasted minute. I know I’ll never forget this story. I didn’t read any spoilers, so I was totally blindsided by the ending. I can’t get the giant lump out if my throat. Tears are still leaking slowly down my face. I’m heartbroken for people who only exist in a book! It’s just crazy! But that’s why we do this, right? Read everything in sight hoping for a few of these treasures. I couldn’t handle this kind of story telling more than occasionally.

Lisa M January 18, 2014 at 6:30 PM

I too was so blinded by the ending Michelle. I couldn’t sleep last night and started immediately to read Fallen Crest High till1:30am and awoke early why i have no idea and finished it. Very good distraction however Lochie is still on my mind!!

Lisa M January 18, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Oops i forget to mention that unfortunately none of my book reading friends would ever read this story so I’m so glad to have your blog Maryse to reflect with all of you!!!

Maryse January 18, 2014 at 6:37 PM

I, too… don’t think that I gave any friends here at home that would read this… but I have you guys. ;) and I’m so thankful for it. :)

P.S. They’re really missing out on this beautiful harrowing story…

Isadora January 18, 2014 at 10:45 PM

I bought it yesterday, and just finished. I loved every moment of this book. I’m still sobbing here…the tears won’t stop.
5+++ stars for me. Beautufully written, characters that felt soo real, their story, their drama ahhhhhhh I loved so much!
Thank you for recommending this Maryse!

Heather Karr January 19, 2014 at 11:01 AM

I finished this yesterday’s was like WOW! What just happened? Was I actually rooting for them? OMG, I was! It was so captivating and ‘real’ to me that I am now thinking about all those kids out there actually having to grow up fast because of screwed up parents… And well, now idk how I feel about the law… Messed up, right?!?

Diane January 19, 2014 at 7:41 PM

This is definitely a book you need a support group for!! I’m still caught up in it (Lochie….. sob) so it’s therapeutic to be able to read everyone’s thoughts (=

Maria January 20, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I finally did and read this amazing book!
I did not see any other way than what **** did for ****, *** knew there was no other way! I really did feel very bad for **** siblings and just thinking of how are these kids going to grow up? Wow, I’m speechless…
I felt like I was there the whole time in every room just looking from the outside. Amazing

Sarah January 21, 2014 at 1:22 AM

So, I mentally prepared myself for this….like training for the Olympics of emotional turmoil, right?? I even went with the whole “buddy system” and recruited a friend to read it with me. Well, it’s just after 1 am, and my husband is distraught as I struggle to get my sobs under control. He was even more confused when he wrapped his arms around me, and I responded between sobs, snot and hiccups that it was “such a good book.” He thinks I’m officially nuts!
Apparently, my training was an epic failure—-but I honestly think there’s no amount of training that will prepare you for this story. Just do it, jump in with both feet, then cling to us “survivors” for support like a life raft.:)
SO WORTH IT! Definitely one that will tear you to your soul, and will stay with you always.

xiao January 21, 2014 at 11:42 AM

OH GAHHHD! I am so proud to say that I have found a good book on my own. gaaah. I’m always relying on your reviews for good books, and well, err.. I found this book a couple of months ago because I have a fetish for incest //smiles sheepishly.
anyway. I love you and I love your reviews.

xiao January 21, 2014 at 11:44 AM

I was about to rant on tabitha for *spoiler*, but then I realized I was a couple of years too late TT^TT

Kelley January 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Just finished reading Forbidden last night at 3 am. I totally ugly cried, too. Thanks for recommending it. It was so well-written; I don’t think I will forget Maya and Lochie’s story for a long time.

Nat January 25, 2014 at 12:23 AM

Just wanted to let you know…….. I read about 2 to 3 books a week so im always on your blog looking for good reads! When you first posted about this book I was like ewww *scrunchy face** Maryse has lost her mind. When I saw u posted your review I skipped the whole thing scrolled straight to the bottom , saw your 5 stars and trusted u blindly when I one clicked on amazon. Well holy shit its 12 am and I am ugly crying my heart out. Can barely see as I text away. I have this horrible turmoil because although I have never seen my brother as anyone other than the kid I would gwt ounished over yet dearly love. He is just that my brother. And I was internally conflicted as I read this story because I could not relate at all and yet at some point I was justifying their actions and thinking along the same lines that they were. Who cares that they are related they love eachother. Then the rational 21st century society hits me and im back at eww WTF. The last chapter and epilogue slaughter me. Which leaves me all puffy eyed and hiding in my bathroom cause lord knows I would never be able to explain to my husband how heartbroken as he woukd never understand.

Lisa K January 26, 2014 at 11:30 PM

Heartbroken, there are no other words. I’m not sure I’ve ever rooted more for two characters to find their happy ending. My heart is aching right now and I just feel kind of empty. Maryse, you reviewed this book as beautifully as the story itself was written.

Dawn January 27, 2014 at 4:17 AM

Flowers in the Attic was my favorite book as a teen and Forbidden has the same feel. I loved it- beautifully written. Two young people thrown together in a difficult situation; completing each other. There was no “eww” factor for me at all. I had hoped for a happier ending tho :(

Gretchen January 30, 2014 at 11:46 AM

I need therapy after reading this book!

Mom February 4, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Wow Sweetpea! just finished reading it and I had not read your review prior to purchasing that book… I just knew you loved it so I bought it for that reason… everything you say in your review is exactly that … which is what I told you in my email once I was done reading… never expected to root for them under those conditions but I certainly did and they had me in trears a few times throughout! it really was worth the read! thanks Sweetpea, Love you!

Amy February 4, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Omg, what a sweet momma! :)

Rebecka March 6, 2014 at 7:55 PM

I just finished and OMG I can’t breath!! Phenomenally Heartwrenching!!!! I can’t believe I Ieft this one on my TBR list so long. Even with your review, which have never lead me astray, I just kept moving it around until I was mentally ready. I was so rooting for them and wanted them to have their HEA even though it’s twisted. I just didn’t care!! I mean we root for the bad boys all the time why not soft hearted Lochie??
My heart bleeds for them. I won’t be forgetting this one anytime soon if ever!
I’m not a violent person, but I am a mommy and would die for my kids! I wanted mommy f’ing dearest to get body slammed into shards of glass a few times 100 times!!! Just sayin.

mvv December 6, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Acabo de leerlo, y la verdad es que no puedo empezar a leer otro hasta que se me disipe la desazón que siento.
Es la primera vez que me pasa tras leer un libro.
Me ha encantado.

Mary Margaret January 3, 2015 at 11:43 AM

I had the amazing opportunity to read this book before it came out and I was BLOW AWAY!!!! I bawled like a baby at the end! My husband thought I was having a panic attack. I couldn’t explain to him that the emotion from this book was beyond anything I’ve read before or really since. I’ve heard rumors that she plans on writing a follow up book. My fingers and toes are crossed on that one!

Larissa Gregório January 18, 2015 at 4:37 PM

Book trailer (fanmade) of Forbidden.

Jenni September 12, 2015 at 12:07 AM

I went through every book on your 2014 list. They were great. I put forbidden on my TBR list and waited to read it last. I was scared to start but once I started I couldn’t put it down. Earlier today, my daughter went to her nana’s, told husband I have to finish this book for my own sanity and after reading for 4 hours straight… I just finish and I’m in complete chock. My chest is tightened and I feel like crying! Wow! Wow wow! This author had a way of making the whole situation ok with you. At first I was like.. Ohhhh noo and then I found myself imagining ways they could get away and have a life and be FREE

Britney May 15, 2016 at 8:26 PM

Really behind on this but it seems this is rubbing elbows with Flowers in the Attic, only i think FITA is way more taboo and disturbing…

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