Forbidden was my first “incest book”, so I didn’t know what to expect. Incest is so unusual that so many people consider it as an act of crime, rather than of love. Forbidden, however, presents it as both.
An act of love. Lochan Whitely and his sister, Maya Whitely, have had an intimate connection since they have been taking responsibility of their three other siblings from their alcoholic mother’s absence. As (somewhat) parents of the house, this connection has developed to the point that they have started to love each other, not only emotionally, but physically as well. Though as sexual as it sounds, Suzuma shows her readers that Lochan and Maya’s love for each other are real, for reasons that make readers feel their love may not be so heinous after all.
An act of crime. Sexual relationships between closely related people are illegal. A consensual intercourse can put persons involved in jail for up to three years, whereas as sexual abuse or rape from a related person can give the abuser at least a life sentence. In effect, Lochan and Maya try to keep their relationship hidden, though it is inevitable that it will be made known. How will their other siblings react? Their friends? The society? And most importantly, the law? These are the questions that give struggle to Lochan and Maya’s relationship, but somehow they could not prevent themselves from doing what makes them happy.
Which weighs more? Maya asked her friend, Francie, if any kind of love should be pursued as long as it keeps them happy. She asked her, “do you think that any two people, if they really and truly love each other, should be allowed to be together no matter who they are?” Out of curiosity, I also asked the same question to some of my friends. Initially, they had agreed, but after I put incest into context, they disagreed whole-heartedly. What makes romantic love between siblings different from the love we see from “normal” couples, from same-sex couples, from couples with an age gap, and from more? If they truly love each other from the deepest areas of their hearts, then why should incest be illegal? The usual argument is that genetic defects would be produced from incest, but carriers of even graver genetic defects are legal to have a relationship. Besides, only a few children born from close relatives are born with defects. Then again, why is incest forbidden? Is it just because it’s “weird” or “unpleasant” to the standards of society? Is it just because it is not what we’re used to it as shaped by the past, where it was forbidden, so that royalty could be passed on to different families? Is it just because of religion? Weren’t generations produced from the intercourse of people with almost the same genes? Forbidden challenges readers to answer the same questions by giving us the perspective of incest being an act of love, and with its harsh but realistic ending, the same questions surface again.
All in all, Forbidden not only has a good story, but its insights on incest gives readers a fresh perspective on it as an act of love. More importantly, it challenges its readers to question the standards of society, and to decide on weather incest should be legal or not. With that, I praise Suzuma for writing such an insightful and open-minded book. Forbidden will never be forgotten.