Friday, October 21, 2011

The Kingdom of Childhood *Book Review & Interview*

Author: Rebecca Coleman
ISBN: 077831278X
Page Count: 338 Pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Grade from Me: 5 out of 5


Two lives intertwine in this somewhat dark and passionate tale of a kindergarten teacher and a 16 year old student...

Judy, a middle-aged teacher who grew up an army brat on a base in Germany with her mentally unstable mother and loving father, lives the seemingly normal, suburban life: two kids who are growing up and succeeding in school, a husband who is aiming to get his P.h. D, a job that she (mostly) loves. All that, however, doesn't erase the terrible secrets of her past and this ever growing loneliness inside her.

Zach, uprooted from his childhood home in Virginia and plopped down into a new life with his father and very-pregnant yoga instructor mother, is just trying to make new friends and deal the best he can with his new situation and surroundings. A "typical" teenage boy on the outside, but not many know the true Zach on the inside; the one who, amidst dealing with moving, new friends, and a new school has to deal with the knowledge of his mother's affair.

That is until he meets Judy.

Thrown together to work jointly on a fundraiser, these two seemingly different people grow dangerously and seductively close through their shared loneliness and turbulent pasts. Lines are blurred and then completely erased as roles of teacher and student simply become man and woman when they start an affair that will change both of their entire lives and everyone around them.

My Thoughts:


From the moment I opened the package containing The Kingdom of Childhood and flipped open to the first page until the very last word, I was enthralled. Enthralled isn't even the right word; obsessed is more like it!

The book is 338 pages and I finished it within 2 days (it would have been 1 but I had important things like bathing and eating to do)! We'll say sleeping wasn't high on my priority list. LOL

Coleman's portrayal of a middle-aged suburban housewife slowly driven mad over her obsession of her son's school friend through the course of six or so months was absolutely perfect, and the little snippets of background from Judy's youth was an added bonus to the already winning story line.

What really struck me about the story was how believable and relateable the characters were! You found yourself loathing Russ and his P.h.D, crying with Judy over her long-lost childhood friend, confused and scared with Zach as the affair started getting dangerous...

This book is a mix of everything that I look for in a story PLUS some-of course it's not for everybody, but if you're interested in reading something somewhat dark, dangerous, and a little bit twisted, look no further :)

Rebecca received her B.A. in English literature from the University of Maryland at College Park and speaks to writers’ groups on the subjects of creative writing and publishing. Her manuscript for The Kingdom of Childhood was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition.

A New Yorker by birth, Rebecca grew up in the close suburbs of Washington, D.C. in an academic family. A year spent in Germany at age eight would later provide the basis for the protagonist’s background in The Kingdom of Childhood. Rebecca first learned about the Waldorf School movement at age 14 and quickly developed a fascination with its culture and philosophies. After studying elementary education for several years, she graduated with a degree in English, awarded with honors.

 A little Q & A with Rebecca about The Kingdom of Childhood:

When did you first get the idea for THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD (TKOC)?
I was folding laundry in front of the TV, watching the news, and they began broadcasting a report about some new teacher-student sex scandal. I can't remember who the players were, but it was another of these cases where the teacher was attractive and well-respected and had a family, and she had risked all of that-- and lost-- so she could have sex with some young teenage boy. And I thought, why on earth would she do that? What could a kid that age possibly have going for him that would be worth using your entire life as collateral? I thought about the fact that people usually do things for reasons that make sense to them, even if they don't make sense to you. And then it struck me that if I could answer that question-- why a woman like that would consider this a worthwhile risk, a reasonable thing to do-- it would make a great story. Because obviously her thinking departs drastically from the norm, and that can make for a very interesting character.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
The most magical part of it, to me, is when you develop such a firm grasp on a character that the book begins to sort of write itself. You know exactly how they would react to a circumstance, what they would say, what they perceive and how they feel. Writing dialogue becomes effortless. I loved writing Zach in The Kingdom of Childhood because I had that sense of him. My favorite characters to write are ones that struggle between their higher and lower impulses-- who have a well-defined sense of right and wrong, but for some reason have run off the rails.
You’ve been in a teaching capacity on many occasions – how does teaching inform your writing?
Yes-- among other things, I did school service seminars as an Elementary Ed major in college, and I'm a Sunday school teacher now. In addition to that, I have four young kids. It makes me acutely aware of the amount of trust we give to teachers, and most teachers are well-deserving of that. That makes it all the more egregious when one violates that trust, because it's such a given and children are taught to anticipate and respect it. In The Kingdom of Childhood, Zach's mother is unquestioning of the amount of time he spends with Judy because she's a teacher, and a Waldorf School teacher, at that-- one whose principles are supposed to define her all the more. Because I've been in both roles-- a teacher of little kids and a Waldorf School parent-- Judy's violation of that trust is a suck-in-your-breath type of crime to me.

**Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman in order to facilitate an honest review. The opinions and words in the above post are mine and mine alone and are not influenced by any other person or third party. Any other questions, you can review my disclaimer HERE**


Introducing Mr. Cool said...

That sounds very interesting and your synopsis was fabulous. Very informative I might say. Makes me want to run out & get the book. Have a great weekend. Now if I may ask a favor, please stop by & check out my 2 CD give-away and help me with the statistics to bring to one of the top agents in LA. I’m bring him all my blog information on how I advertise, all the CD’s that I have cut with Lone Star & pictures. Thanks & pass the word.

XmasDolly said...

Oh boy, you go girl! Great huh... book report? Ahhh what do I know, but I like how you told us all about it. Great info. I'm sure the author loved it too! Hi baby girl thanks for stopping by. Hope you're feeling fine & you make it to a Halloween party this year. They're so much fun. I use to have one every year until people stopped coming. I don't know maybe it's because the law got so heavy on drinking & driving or maybe everyone started having their own party. It's always nice to see your pretty face in my comments! WHO LUVS YA BABY! I see Tom is on a roll again. I better get over there & enter. What the heck! He's a nice ol' coot anyways! I really give him an E for effort.

Unknown said...

Sounds intriguing for sure!

Cindy said...

What a great book review. If I could squeeze in more time for reading, i would definitely want to start with this one. It interested me because she sounds like a local (to me) author...and I grew up (5 years in HS anyway) living on a base in Germany too. :-)

Teena in Toronto said...

Sounds good! Thanks!

Terra Heck said...

Sounds like a good read. One I may have to order for some winter reading.