Publish Date: September 27, 2011
Origins: From Publisher for Review
Format: Trade Paperback
Order From: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: The Kingdom of Childhood is the story of a boy and a woman: sixteen-year-old Zach Patterson, uprooted and struggling to reconcile his knowledge of his mother's extramarital affair, and Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher watching her family unravel before her eyes. Thrown together to organize a fundraiser for their failing private school and bonded by loneliness, they begin an affair that at first thrills, then corrupts, each of them. Judy sees in Zach the elements of a young man she loved when she was only a child. But what Zach does not realize is that-- for Judy-- their relationship is only the latest in a lifetime of disturbing secrets.
Review: Judy McFarland had a not quite ordinary upbringing being a military brat living in Germany. She had moved back to the United States, married, had two kids, and is a kindergarten teacher at a Steiner-Waldorf school in Maryland. Her daughter is off at college, her son is in his last year of high school, and her husband is busy with his doctoral dissertation. She's left afloat alone in a failing marriage, a stressful work environment, coping with the loss of her best friend, and then Zach comes along...
First off, I do not condone any kind of sexual/adult relationship between an adult and a child. Judy has many secrets and the latest being her affair with sixteen-year-old Zach - a student at her school and a friend of her son. I think in many ways Judy is a broken woman and that is why she teaches kindergarten. To be around children who have not yet lost their innocence and joy in the world. To be around children who have what she did not - a childhood. I also think her affair with Zach is akin to cutting - a way for her to feel again regardless of the consequences (even though she outwardly worries about them) or even the feelings of the others around her.
The scenic descriptiveness, realistic dialogue, and the depth of characterization makes The Kingdom of Childhood an amazing read. Brilliantly written and deeply unnerving, Ms. Coleman will make a huge impact on all who read her books. I cannot wait to read more of Ms.Coleman's work and see where she takes us next.