Review "Sweetest Taboo"

Sweetest Taboo by Eva Márquez

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. 

My rating: 

Before I go on, read some of the the epilogue. I think that it gives a very good idea of what the story is about and what Márquez has written :) 

The shocking truth is that relationships between students and teachers exist not only in the U.S. but also across the world. These love affairs may end well, or become tragic, but they all share one common theme: when they become public, they shock the world. The men and women of society react with disgust, surprise, fear, and even anger, judging the adult in the relationship to be a manipulative person, and the student to be the naïve, innocent victim. These illicit affairs find the same treatment in the courts, where the adult parties are judged guilty of a range of crimes, from sexual molestation to outright rape, sometimes without benefit of an impartial jury. Decisions and judgments are made long before any testimony is heard, and certainly without regard to situation or circumstances. Those teachers lucky enough to avoid jail time must register as sexual offenders, and lose both their jobs and their reputations. They face a future that is dark, grim, and without redemption. The students find themselves at the other end of the spectrum. They are coddled and treated as victims, handled with kid gloves, and counseled to go on with their lives. They may receive prescriptions for anti-depressants, to allow them to ‘forget’ what happened to them. They, too, have to deal with the long-term repercussions of the affairs, though – the sideways glances, the asterisks in their records, the knowing looks of those around them. As we can see, society has already signed and delivered its judgment in cases like these: guilty, regardless of the facts. The world is full of after-school specials about sexual predators and older people who take advantage of adolescents. But is that always the case? Are these affairs predestined to be manipulative and hurtful, where one party is the abuser and the other the victim? Or is there room for true love in any relationship, regardless of age, circumstance, and context? Sweetest Taboo seeks to explore that very idea – that a student and teacher can fall in love, share a mutual respect, and even build a life together, despite society’s prejudices. This work of fiction takes a new and daring look at the student’s side of the story, and reveals that these affairs may in fact find their origin in love, rather than manipulation. Finally, it represents the hope that both parties may go on with their lives, unscarred by the truth of their affairs. Márquez takes a brave and – to some – shocking leap into the realm of fiction and real life, presenting an unsettling fictional memoir, 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.

So, this book is very different from what I would usually read, but I really enjoyed it! It was fast paced, well written and had me I would say clutching my book, but clutching my laptop then, in anticipation over what would happen next. 
Sweetest taboo is about Isabel Cruz. She is fifteen year old and a high school student. She starts an affair with the coach of her swim team, Tom Stevens who is both married and have kids. When the story started all I could think was 'no, why Isabelle? Stay away from him! it's not right'.. But as the story continues I find myself almost cheering them on. I'm scared about them getting caught and they have to end their relationship, I'm scared everytime they get a letter from eachother or talk on phone - always thinking be careful, you could get caught! They write letters to eachother and depsite Tom telling her get rid of them or give them back to him Isabel takes copies and keeps to herself which just got me more worried about someone finiding them.
The book shows how it is for the student in a teacher student relationship, showing us that it can be love and not just the teacher taking advantage of the student. So, I gotta admit, where I live this whole student teacher thing it is not a big thing, meaning that it does not happen a lot and we don't have the same laws, but being familar with it from movies, books, tv etc. I get what it's about. Tom is in his 30's while Isabel is only 15 so it's a rather large gap there is, but you know what they say, love has no age. 
..slightly, so that his eyes could gaze into mine. “But I can’t keep it to myself anymore. Isabel, I’m completely … in love with you.”

Yeah, that's pretty cute. At times I really did forget that there even was this age gap between them, I even forgot that he was married and had kids and I just saw the two of them and how sweet they were together and the whole having to hide from the outside world made everything very exciting and interesting.
 I lifted my head to look Tom in the eyes, noting his love struck look. “You don’t have to worry. I’m not going to do anything that would screw this up. You know I’m a responsible person and anyway Mrs. Drake already has all kinds of rules established. According to the contract she made us sign, if we break any rules, we fly home early at the expense of our parents. She’ll make sure that we’re safe. Don't worry. I’ll be thinking about you and missing you like crazy the entire time.”

Later in the story Isabel is moving back to Chile with her family and that of course means the end for her and Tom. The way she handled it, I couldn't get over the weird way that she rationalizes . He told her before leaving that he would no be able to contact her, so when he doesn't Isabel decides, just like that, he doesn't care and their relationship is over. That's when I went 'noooo, you have so little time left just go and be together' but no. She leaves and their relationship is over. This incident reminded me once again that Isabel is afterall only 15 and a teenager so it makes sense for her to react that way. 
While there, Isabel finds out that someone has told the police about her and Tom and that they have him in custody. Isabel receives a phonecall from the police and she then has to tell them that the whole thing is a lie to save Tom.  
The stay in Chile doesn't last long and before we know it they're back in the U.S and Isabel is back in school and back with Tom. They continue their relationship and they are even able to take things to the next level. And I am once again thrown into the the 'oh no' moments of being afraid that they will get caught.
Despite being in a relationship with Tom Isabel still tries to do the normal teenage thing such as hang out with friends and even try and kiss other guys, but none of them make her feel like Tom and she feels like she's betraying him (even though he's still with his wife). 
At the end of high school Isabel gives Tom an ultimatum - either he leaves his wife to be with her and they break up. 
So they break up. 
He won't leave his wife and she won't continue things as they are, of which I don't blame her. isabel goes off to College and spends the first year trying to get over Tom and forget him, but when she goes home to visit her family she is again reminded of him and how much she misses him. When she goes to see a friend at school, she sees Tom in his truck, driving away with a blonde in the seat next to him and due to the rumors going around she thinks that Tom has done it again, started an affair with another high school student. This makes her question everything that they shared together, but before we learn more...
 The end... oh my god! It can not just end like that! The story ends with us not knowing whether or not that blonde cheerleader is or is not in a relationship with Tom or if Isabel and him will get back together. 

Overall I very much enojoyed this book and thought that Márquez did an excellent job at writing it and giving the topic a new persepctive. 

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.

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  1. Can't I believe I haven't checked out this review yet. What the hell, right?
    But oooh it made me relive all of Sweetest Taboo and mostly how naive Isabel is. But I love this book. And great review! =)

  2. Even the 2nd review is up xD (had to work fast to make the deadline!)
    I am so mad at Isabel do not even mention her! xD


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