Una LaMarche‘s Like No Other is a wonderful romance between two Brooklyn teenagers — Devorah, an Orthodox Jew, and Jaxon, a black nerd — whose paths cross when they’re trapped in a hospital elevator during a hurricane. Despite the fact that they both live in Crown Heights, their paths would’ve never crossed otherwise, as Devorah is part of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement, which exists in its own cloistered world — a world that, historically, has had tensions with Crown Heights’ African American population.
Once these two star-crossed lovers meet, they have a connection that’s undeniable. Always sheathed in heavy wool and modest skirts, Devorah will likely be married to a stranger as soon as she turns eighteen, while Jaxon’s under the gun to get into a great college. The odds against them are nearly impossible, but despite that, this couple pursues a relationship in secret. Their relationship is enchanting and human, and the beauty of first love comes across in every word.
It’s an excellent read about a forbidden love, the sort of young adult book that can transcend age or snobbery, and we talked with the Brooklyn-based LaMarche — whose books include her YA debut Five Summers and next year’s book of humorous essays, Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer — to get her suggestions about further impossible and passionate tales of devotion. “A lot of the times [loves]’s not forbidden, it’s just inconvenient,” LaMarche says, citing works like The Princess Bride. “I was going to say Dirty Dancing but I think I’m going to reject that because I don’t think that was truly forbidden. It wasn’t like it was going to make them lose everything they ever had in life.” Click through to see the works that catalogue truly forbidden love.
D.H. Lawrence — Lady Chatterley’s Lover
“It’s about Lady Chatterly and she falls in love with this guy — he’s her gamekeeper. So she’s married and she’s upper class and she falls in love with this guy who’s lower class and he works for them. It’s very sexy.”
West Side Story
“When I talk about Like No Other, I usually say it’s kind of based on Romeo and Juliet, but if I’m being honest, West Side Story introduced me to the Romeo and Juliet story. I love musicals and the old school New York gang war background and that it’s all about them dancing and singing ballads to each other.”
The Little Mermaid
“The ultimate forbidden love, because she’s a fish. That is high on my list, [because] even though it’s a cartoon and it’s Disney, it’s very poignant. I would argue — even though I saw it when I was ten, so maybe my standards were a little lower — when they’re in the boat with ‘Kiss the Girl,’ that was the height of sexual tension.”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“Twilight is not my thing. However, I think the vampire/human is a very compelling kind of forbidden love, but I first fell into that with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Buffy and Angel.”
“I can’t remember now which of them was forbidden from seeing the other one. There haven’t been quite as many forbidden love stories about non-straight people but I’m hoping that changes.”