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The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman
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's review
Oct 17, 2011

really liked it

Sexual obsession and its destructive power drive Coleman’s gripping debut novel.

Judy MacFarland is a kindergarten teacher at the failing Sylvania Waldorf School, a private K-12 school in Maryland. Her husband, Russ, seems to have forgotten that he has a family since he began his doctoral dissertation. Her son, Scott, is a popular senior at the Waldorf School who spends most of his time with his friends, and her daughter Maggie is away at college. Judy is a very lonely woman. Throw in the recent death of Judy’s best friend and you have an emotionally fragile time-bomb waiting to explode.
Sixteen year old Zach Patterson, new to the Waldorf School and a friend of Scott’s, has had some trouble at home as well. When Zach’s mother asks Judy to supervise him as he works on a project for the school auction, Judy agrees. The sexual tension between the student and teacher increases as the two spend more and more time together and neither seems strong enough to put an end to it.
While the subject matter may be disturbing, Coleman writing is enthralling as she gives us a glimpse into the minds of her deeply flawed and emotionally scarred characters. As the depth of Judy’s emotional disturbance is revealed, we are drawn in and can’t help but feel sympathy for everyone involved, including her.
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