What I think
I'll start by stating that this book is not for everyone. In fact, some will probably hate it. But I loved it.
It's definitely a book that causes mixed feelings. It tackles an issue (actually more than one) that's almost never addressed, almost never discussed, not in books and not in real life, and when it is, it's usually done in hushed tones.
I'd heard about this book before I read it and I went in expecting it to be a lot like books by Virginia Andrews. And while in some ways it was, it also wasn't. V.C. Andrews' books always had this air of despair. It's hard to explain, but it felt like the characters could never catch a break and even if they did, it would be like there was and would always be a cloud hanging over them, just waiting to start raining on them again. Don't get me wrong, this book had a thread of pain, sadness and desperation throughout as well, but there was also the hope, the never ending hope, the promise of love, unconditional love, and the possibility of happiness. And that's what made all the difference.
The characters, or no, the character of Lochan, is one of the most messed up I have ever seen. From the start I had a feeling the book would end as it did, it was always there in my mind, right beneath the surface. But Lochan isn't just one of the most screwed up characters I've ever come across, he's also one of the most amazing. He has been taking care of his family, his brothers and sisters, ever since he was about 12, having to make up for a father who left and a mother who couldn't care less, leaving her children to their own devices. Imagine how hard that must be, how terrifying, how mind-boggling, yet it happens more than we can possibly comprehend. Lochan carries the weight of his family like he's carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And in a way he is, because they are his world. But while he often thinks he's carrying the weight alone, there is Maya, his one year younger sister, who started carrying the weight right along with him. They form a team in everything, it's them against the world. Maya is Lochan's strength and all throughout the book I feel like he'll fall apart without her. He depends on her more then he knows. Even so, he tries to shield her from the responsibility, his responsibility as much as he can, trying to be strong for her, trying not to need her. And all of it, having to be the responsible adult, often thinking he's doing it alone, has taken its toll on him. He's anti-social, just completely turned into himself, only coming alive when he's with his family.
Maya is the strong, calm, reasonable character, the peacemaker. She's Lochan's anchor and the reason he doesn't completely unravel.
The story alternates between the point of view of Lochan and Maya and in my opinion is beautifully told.
It's simple, but raw and honest. It's about the love between a brother and sister, developing into something more than what's accepted in our society,resulting in incest, or in this case, consensual incest. And the author managed to make it work. She found a way to make the characters live, to make me sympathize with them, to make me understand them and want to make it all alright and I applaud her for that. And the ending, the ending! I knew it wouldn't end well, these things never do. Do I think things would have gone very differently if the circumstances had been different? Yes, I really, really do. I think there's a reason why not more brothers and sisters fall in love, although there are probably more cases than ever see the light of day. Anyway, so while I expected the ending, I was also kind of scared, scared of how everything would go down and my fear reached a maximum because of what almost happened at the very end of the book. And while the ending was far from happy, it was satisfying. I'm happy about the choice made in the very end and I think everything will be alright. Some might disagree and ask me what my definition of alright is. To me, it's the sun breaking through when you're in a place where you never thought that was possible. And that is what this book delivers.
This is a book that tugs at the heartstrings. It challenges you and it makes you think. It's a book about hope, love, despair and sacrifice. It's about actions and the consequences that go along with them. It is not a light read and it's a little disturbing. But I'll tell you something. I was very much in a reading rut when I started this book. I can't even remember the last book I read at the moment. And this book managed to pull me out of that rut. So it is without a doubt a good read.