Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Release: February 15th 2007
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, YA
She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.
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.
I knew, when I picked this up, that I signed up for a potential freak show. However, I had also hoped that it wouldn't be too disturbing and would be as eye-opening as everyone's always saying.
I have an older brother. He's three years older than me, the same age as two of my ex-boyfriends, and I love him. However, I do not think he is the least bit handsome, actually, I think he's extremely disgusting and I am traumatized every time I see him without a shirt on. I have always wondered what girls with genuinely good-looking brothers think of their siblings; I have never ever considered my brother as anything else, even the idea of the idea of the idea of ever contemplating anything is absolutely revolting to me. See where I'm going with this? No? Well...
Saying this, I can still see why Maya and Lochan would fall in love, why they'd work together and why their feelings would develop the way they did. At times throughout the novel I was disgusted by their feelings too, I admit, but other times I actually smiled because I thought they were a cute couple and stuff, you know. Suzuma does a great job of showing their relationship in just the right light, not too optimistic but also "good" enough to make me realize that they could really have genuine romantic feelings for each other.
But. It's not even the whole incest thing that really disgusted me so much about their relationship. About halfway through, I noticed what kept bugging me about them: this was an abusive as fuck relationship. With Maya always having to beg Lochan to continue on with their secret affair, him always pushing her away after a while though, both emotionally and physically hurting her in the process, time and time again and it really made me angry.
This also made me realize that Maya is only a teenager, she's just a sixteen-year-old girl and I shouldn't expect that much from her. She's had to grow up way too fast and start acting as a mother figure for her younger siblings, and in the process didn't get to have her very own childhood. I often marveled at how childish and naive she could be, especially considering her always being the one initiating and encouraging her and Lochan's relationship, but keeping all this in mind, I think it was ... cleverly done? I don't know, but I can see how this would fuck her up so that she'd not notice how much of a dickbag Lochan actually is towards her and stuff.
Now, Lochan ... I really wanted to be mad at him, but in the end, I just pity him. Thanks to dual POV, I know what went on in his head and why he did what he did, and that he never meant to hurt anyone, but I still think that's no reason for him not to take responsibility for his actions. And he's always dodging doing just that, always sending in Maya as an ambassador. He obviously has a problem, a mental illness, but I don't want to use that as an excuse for him. Everyone should own up to their messes, even if you can't help it.
As for plot and story, it suffered the usual contemporary blandness. Nothing exciting ever really happened, nothing out of the ordinary that would shake this up and so this book had to rely on its characters and the forbidden romance to back it up, which was complicated sometimes. It was never exactly boring, not so much that I didn't want to read on, but it was simply lame, in the sense of me rolling my eyes, sighing and turning the page being very annoyed at how slow it was. It was a far cry from The Book Thief, but it was still a major issue for me. The only thing that truly kept me on reading was my desperate need to know how this would all end, how it could possibly end.
Overall, I still think that this book makes an incredible point in asking why incestuous love is so illegal and ostracized, if no one is hurting anyone in the process, if it's consensual? A very good question, one that I have never pondered before reading this book since it really is just a question of morals and upbringing. This sometimes read like a fanfiction writing attempt I did back when I was fourteen, especially the dialogue, but all in all, the writing was also pretty solid and enjoyable. Bottom line: If this sounds interesting to you at all, then you might want to pick it up, however, it is quite dark and especially tragic, so ... you have been warned.
PS: I still haven't figured out how to pronounce Lochan, and it kept on being very weird since "Loch" means hole in German. So whenever he was called Lochie, I kept thinking they were calling him hole-y. Not holy, more like ... full of holes. Which would actually be pretty fitting, I wonder if that's why Suzuma named him like that in the first place? Hm...