I will start out this review by saying that this book isn't for everyone and a simple glance at it's Goodreads' page will tell you that.
Right off the bat, you will find out that this book includes an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister. And I will tell you that when I read that I was very, very hesitant to read it. I was honestly about to move on and choose a different book to read as I didn't know that this book had that kind of relationship when I put the book into my TBR jar. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the reviews and ratings this book had gotten.
Most of them....highly praised this book.
So, I was curious. What about this book made it wonderful, so wonderful that a lot of people were able to look past the taboo relationship? So, curiosity won. I bought the book.
And I'm so happy I did.
While this book does have an incestuous relationship between a brother -- Lochan -- and a sister -- Maya -- this book is mainly about those two teenagers having to raise three younger siblings because of an alcoholic mother and an absent father. Quite truthfully, the relationship isn't a thing until at least halfway through the book.
The first half of the book is simply learning Lochan's and Maya's story, Lochan is on the cusp of graduating from secondary/high school and Maya is his younger (by 13 months) sister. When they were young, their father left their mother and moved to Australia with a new woman and hasn't really contacted them since Lochan was a pre-teen. Their mother turned to alcohol and partying to cope and you come to find out that she never wanted any kids; but, her ex-husband did hence why she had five children. You learn about Kit, a 13 year old who resents Lochan because Lochan was never a brother but was always a father. And you meet Tiffin and Willa, their much younger siblings who are cute as can be and have no cares in the world.
And you continue reading, about one-fourth of the way through, you start to see hints of Lochan's and Maya's relationship starting to form. Talk about feelings that shouldn't be there and other things like that; but, I was able to over look their relationship (even as it on cemented and deeper) and focus on them just struggling to live and making sure that their three younger siblings got everything that they needed and wanted. Hell, by the end of the book, I was rooting for them. I didn't see that coming. But this book is so well-written. I honestly can't even say how it was so well-written but Suzuma didn't just tell a story : she painted it. You could picture everything. You could feel Lochan's stress and struggles as he worries about university, his social anxiety/phobia, his feelings for his sister, his little siblings, getting money from his mom to pay the bills and get food on the table, etc, etc ,etc.
I do have one complaint about this story; but, it could be that Suzuma was aiming for this. The story is told with two alternating point-of-views : Lochan's and Maya's. But by the end of the story, I felt that Maya was a secondary character and Lochan was the main. Perhaps that was the point as Lochan was the eldest and had most of the responsibilities of raising the children and most of the struggles were on his shoulders.
Overall, I give this book a 8.5 out of 10. A very good read. Wonderfully written and I definitely recommend anyone to read it regardless of genre tastes.
Until the next page turn,