Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

My Thoughts: As you can already probably tell from the summary, the relationship depicted by this book is far from normal. I had been hearing about it from several different blogs that I follow and decided to pick it up because reviews were fairly good and I was sort of shocked at just how exactly an author could write a book about an incestual relationship and make it… decent?

Suzuma’s writing is definitely far better than decent. It’s absorbing, gripping, engaging, and from the very beginning you see just how difficult Maya and Lochan’s lives are. Their drunk mother is completely absent and such a horrifyingly bad parent that it made me so angry for the kids. Lochan and Maya are completely in charge of their younger siblings and have to deal with making dinner every night, picking up and dropping off their two youngest siblings at school, reeling in a rebellious, lashing-out brother, and all this on top of their regular schoolwork. I was constantly anxious and worried for them and how their situation was going to pan out. Suzuma write their lives and sufferings and occasional lovely joys so convincingly.

You can see just exactly how Maya and Lochan begin falling into each other. There is no one else around. There is no one else they can depend on and confide in and love. I saw it happen and while I understood it, I was slamming on the brakes in my head the whole time. Once their clandestine romance began I couldn’t understand it truly. The societal and cultural taboo threw up an immediate wall for me, and Suzuma’s beautiful writing couldn’t get me through it.

I was still desperate to know what happened to them, all the way up to the end. And boy was it an ending. Forbidden was perfectly paced and engrossing and definitely well written.

I wouldn’t say I was convinced or involved in the romance–but that’s not truly the point. The best and most successful part of Forbidden was the story of 5 children who loved each other trying to make it absolutely on their own in a world that had little sympathy or use for them.

Author Website: http://www.tabithasuzuma.com/

The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

COVER the winter rose by jennifer donnellyRating: 8 out of 10
Summary: The Winter Rose begins in London in the summer of 1900. Reformers, moved by the plight of the poor, work to better their conditions. Among them is an idealistic young woman named India Selwyn-Jones. Newly graduated from medical school, India joins a practice in Whitechapel and tends to its people. With the help of her influential fiance Freddie Lytton, an up-and-coming Liberal MP she works to shut down the area’s opium dens that destroy both body and soul. Her selfless activities better her patients’ lives and bring her immense gratification, but unfortunately, they also bring her into direct conflict with East London’s ruling crime lord Sid Malone.

It is on these grim streets where India meets – and saves the life of – London’s most notorious gangster, Sid Malone. Hard, violent, devastatingly attractive, Malone is the opposite of India’s cool, aristocratic fiancé, a rising star in the House of Commons. Though Malone represents all she despises, India finds herself unwillingly drawn ever closer to him – enticed by his charm, intrigued by his hidden, mysterious past.

My Thoughts: I believe this is the second novel, the sequel to The Tea Rose, the first novel that Donnelly wrote. I haven’t read the first one, and I had no problem just jumping into the story with the second book. 

While at times the novel could get a little preachy and cliche (especially with India’s idealism), the overall effect was very epic and sweeping and really immersed you in the story. The narration follows the characters throughout their lives, and it could easily have ended at several points but Donnelly twisted the story unexpectedly, and boom, you are off on another adventure. 

I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t very affected by the chemistry between India and Sid–I was rather sidetracked and more enamored with the plight between a pair of younger characters, Sid’s brother and another heroine who I suspect might be the stars of Donnelly’s next book. Overall a good, long read.