by Eva Márquez
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Format Acquired: Kindle copy, won
Isabel Cruz was fifteen years old when she met Tom Stevens. She was 15 when they started dating, and 16 when she lost her virginity to him. By the time she turned 18 and went to college, everything had fallen apart.
This hadn’t been an ordinary love, though. Not a love between two dear friends, or even high school sweethearts. This had been the most taboo sort of love there was: a relationship between a student and her teacher. Isabel started her high school career as a normal student, but set her sights on Tom Stevens as soon as she met him, and pursued him with an intense – and sometimes reckless – fascination. When he finally approached her after swim practice and told her that he shared her feelings, it was the start of a forbidden and dangerous relationship.
Join Isabel as she makes her way through this dark love story, hiding from teachers, lying to her parents, and defying the authorities to make a life with the man she loves. Watch as she discovers the wonders of love and romance, and the terrible betrayal of jealous friends. And cry with her when she learns the hard truth about life and the people in her world.
Sweetest Taboo is inspired by the true and tragic stories of students who fall in love with their teachers, and live with the hard truths of forbidden romances. In a world full of after-school specials on sexual predators, this touching book seeks a different path, casting both student and teacher in a gentle light, and showing that true love may lie at the base of even the most illicit romance.
I've been really into taboo stories lately because I like seeing how authors handle controversial stories/topics. I think any writer who chooses to go down that path is bold. It's not easy reading stories like this so I can just imagine how much harder it is to write about it. Aside from considering how the story's told, a writer also has to consider how the reader will react. I've read some reviews that comment on the issue rather than focusing on the entirety of the book. I truly did my best to keep an open mind while reading this book because it's unfair if I don't. However, I still found myself unable to appreciate Sweetest Taboo like I thought I would. There were simply too many things that didn't appeal to me.
What bothered me the most was how the story was written. I couldn't appreciate a book that tells a story rather than showing it. I know the book aims to cast taboo relationships in a gentle light but at the same time, I think it also needs to amp up the intensity a bit. It was written in Isabel's perspective and she had a lot of inner monologues that didn't quite help me get into the story. Her thoughts may have helped present student-teacher relationships in a different light but I think it also robbed the story of any excitement.
The characters didn't appeal to me as well. I had a hard to feeling any sort of connection to either Tom or Isabel. Maybe it was just the way they spoke or how they were written - I don't know. I just felt like their personalities didn't affect me at all. I do appreciate the fact that Isabel, no matter how mature she acted on most occasions, was still a child. Her naivety showed in different ways like when she couldn't keep her mouth shut or when she purposefully made out with guys because she felt upset that Tom had a wife and that he goes home to her. Her inability to grasp the situation fully was just in some way part of her being young. I couldn't say the same for Tom though given that he's old and he should know better. He also made decisions that were too risky like meeting up in the parking lot or in his classroom. I guess the "excitement" that I've been craving for was supposed to come from their recklessness but it didn't really show.
I find that this book was okay. It didn't really get to me. Perhaps if it was written in some other way I would've seen the appeal. I would still want to read the next book though because the story ended with Isabel who's older and has reconnected with Tom. I'm curious how the story will turn out now that she's of age. Definitely something to look forward to.
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About the author
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, daughter of European immigrants, Eva Márquez has spent most of her life outside of her home country. At the age of five, Eva accompanied her parents to the United States, where the family settled permanently. After graduating from university, she went on to complete graduate studies in International Relations in Spain. Eva received her Master of International Studies degree from the University of Sydney and went on to work in the global health field in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Eva currently resides in Southern Africa.