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all hearthfires & holocausts

eating books. bleeding words.

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Forbidden (Definitions)

Forbidden - Tabitha Suzuma I received this advanced copy from the publisher.I've been trying to write this review for hours. I'm just not sure what to say--what could possibly do the story justice.I began Forbidden fully aware of its taboo subject matter, armed with all the preconceptions that go along with such a sensitive and easily exploited topic. I thought at best I'd be slightly disturbed, at worst completely sickened by Lochen and Maya's story--but I was neither. Instead I was completely caught off guard by the strength of Suzuma's storytelling, the depth of her characterizations and the way she humanized such a sensationalized subject. Maya and Lochen, sixteen and eighteen, have the weight of their world sitting on their shoulders. After their parents divorce and their mother's subsequent descent into alcoholism and willful neglect, they become the sole caregivers for their three younger siblings. They are wholly responsible for raising the children--they cook, the clean, they wash, they dress, etc etc etc--while still in school themselves. The pressure on them is enormous, and they have only each other to lean on. They are partners more than they've ever been siblings, thrust into the roles of pseudo-parents and the heads of the household.The evolution of their relationship is gradual. It's a slow burn--a spark that ignites as soon as it is allowed to breathe, a desperate and terrible need that wells between them. Not once in its entire progression did I ever stop to question the morality of their relationship--whether it was right for them to be together. Whether it was plausible for them to love each other in that context. Instead, I found myself rooting for them, 100% in their corner and wishing desperately that they could find a way to be together. Maya and Lochen's relationship is, quite simply, beautifully done. There is nothing sensational or exploitative about it. Forbidden rocked the foundation of my morality and my perception of right and wrong. It is a story that will stick with me, one that I know I will still be mulling over weeks from now. Hours later, and still this line rings in my head: "Being together, we harm nobody; being apart, we extinguish ourselves."I can't recommend this book enough.