This book was emotionally powerful, compelling. I stayed up late and read it in one sitting. The story revolves around 5 neglected and basically abandoned children who are forced to survive without parents. First abandoned by their father, and then their mother slowly withdraws from their lives by drinking and then physically removing herself from their home entirely. The two oldest children take on the care of the younger kids, everything from cleaning, shopping, cooking, helping with homework and trying to survive as teenagers themselves. I was impressed how realistically the author painted the daily care and maintenance of three young children. It is all the author describes and more. The care is all consuming and it isn’t just the care --- it is the worry and the love for the younger children by the two older children that the author adds to the story. And she does it brilliantly. One of the older children, one of the care givers – Lochlan, is in his last year of high school. He is incredibly brilliant, smart, loving, protective, but socially disabled. He cannot speak to people his age or teachers and the stress of his home life and the social pressure at school cause him to physically bite and tear at his lip until it is an open sore. When I was reading this book I truly felt his pain. It was so well done. Don’t read any farther unless you want spoilers!The ending of the book, I just completely disagreed with it. I know it is supposed to be a tragic love story. I knew that going in. I know that Lochlan had contemplated suicide and routinely sacrificed everything of himself for his siblings. However, I don’t think it was the only way out and I find it unrealistic that it happened in the first place. Okay, first unbelievable thing, the mother would never have cared enough to call the police or if she did care, a person like her would not have turned to the authorities. I understand that she thought he was raping his sister/her daughter. But her calling the police is so outside of her character that it is unbelievable. I could be swept away with the emotion and shock of it, but I still couldn’t get past this step of unbelievability (not a word by the way, I think I made that up). What do I think would have happened if she walked in on that scene? I think she may have likely just ignored it. She was a neglectful selfish person, she didn’t want to get down and dirty with her kids. But okay, if she didn’t do that then I think she would have screamed, yelled, been disgusted and cut off their money – perhaps ordered him out. I know she had hostile feelings toward Lochlan, saw him as his father’s son, but the step of a societal reject like her, calling the police. I don’t buy it. Second thing I do not buy, I find it completely unbelievable that Lochlan wouldn’t have been on a suicide watch in prison. I just do not buy this. Third, Lochlan would have been appointed counsel (I am not British, so I don’t know the ins and outs of the British legal system, but the UK system is very well developed and I believe he would have consulted with counsel) and counsel would have explained to him that with the testimony of his sister (the penalties for sex with someone underage in the UK are not like in the US that is my initial basis, I know the author is from the UK, so this is not everyone’s perspective) the penalties of what happened would not be that bad. I know Lochlan had done initial internet searches, but he would have consulted with counsel and been advised of the real consequences!! My understanding is that the age of consent in the UK is 16, so the sister was definitely of the age of consent (right, am I misremembering her age?). Yes add the layer of the fact that they are siblings but any lawyer would have advised his/her client that his sister was old enough to consent, thus the penalties would not have been severe – if any at all. I just do not accept that a socially disturbed boy was allowed to sit in a prison cell without a prison watch, without seeing a pychologist, with the ability to kill himself and not have his rights and the consequences of his arrest explained to him by his own legal advocate. So it is obvious, I just do not buy the ending. It is beautifully tragic. But not realistic in this modern time and not in a country with such a developed legal system. What is the ending I would have accepted and was reasonable? Social workers immediately intervening (if the mother makes the unbelievable step of calling the police – or perhaps, more believable a teacher finds out – the teacher who had an academic interest in Lochlan). Okay, so social workers descend, the family is somewhat separated, the brother and sister are definitely separated and given counseling. Lochlan goes off to college. The older siblings are allowed to see the younger siblings under certain circumstances, but really the lives of the younger siblings improve (perhaps). The two older siblings see each other years later as adults – and it is sad, heartbreaking, but they know they can’t be together. That to me is a much better and more realistic ending, and it is still sad/hearbreaking. I feel like the ending of Forbidden mirrored too much like the novel Atonement, which I also found way over the top – a scandal just to create emotional heartbreak in its readers (which it did for me). Anyway, the book lost 1 star from me b/c the ending was so out of whack with reality. I know many people loved the ending, it was a partial Romeo and Juliet ending. Sorry, I just don’t buy it.