3 out of 4 stars
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Forbidden Betrayal by Sabaine Harinarai is a narrative poem about loss and grief with an element of magic realism. The story follows Marie, a teenager growing up in a cult-like community, who feels responsible for the death of her best friend, and then loses the love of her life. Marie relates her months of struggle with depression through a heart wrenching narrative poem.
The story Harinarai weaves is original, creative, and very raw. Told from the point of view of Marie, the reader experiences her deepest pain, which she manages to hide from her family, friends, and teachers for months. Through her healing, Marie is trying to make sense of her life and the cult-like community she lives in, but she does not like what she discovers.
I appreciate how Harinarai does not spell everything out for the reader, but allows the reader to make connections through Marie’s sad and confused retelling. Although Marie’s story is unique, it is very relatable to anyone who has suffered from grief, anxiety, or depression. Harinarai does not sugar coat the self-loathing and violent thoughts that root themselves in Marie’s mind as she battles with depression single-handedly for months. Marie is a complicated and well developed character. The themes of good versus evil, corruption, and loss of innocence add to the depth of this narrative poem. In narrative poems, it can be difficult to include more than one character, as well as dialogue, but Harinarai manages to pull off both of these feats with style.
Harinarai’s poetry is gripping, but I believe there is room for improvement. Some lines could be rearranged so they land on a more powerful note. Also, at times she tries to rhyme, but I think it would make Marie’s thoughts seem more chaotic, confusing, and sincere if there was more dissonance. Overall, however, I am impressed by Harinarai’s poetic abilities. The only other complaint I have is that the ending is very abrupt and a bit confusing. Although I appreciate how the Harinarai encourages the reader to make connections, I think the author would benefit from expanding and clarifying the events that take place at the end.
Forbidden Betrayal is a fascinating narrative poem that involves magic realism. It is a quick read that is professionally edited and it showcases the raw emotions that encompass grief, anxiety, and depression. I have decided to rate Forbidden Betrayal 3 out of 4 stars. I believe that Harinarai’s poetry is impressive but there is some room for improvement, and I hope the ending gets expanded and clarified. I would recommend Forbidden Betrayal to anyone who appreciates narrative poetry, magic realism, or stories dealing with grief, anxiety, and depression.
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