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The Kingdom of Childhood

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  1,760 Ratings  ·  382 Reviews

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 b
Paperback, 338 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Mira (first published 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

A thoroughly gripping novel. Rebecca Coleman's writing style is a "no-holds barred" approach; honest, raw, and intense, the content invoked such a whirlpool of emotions, I was unable to put the book down but came away feeling emotionally drained. It's a compelling combination; a bit like watching a car crash ... horrifying and nauseating but you just can't turn away.

It's not like this is unprecedented behaviour, even when I was in high school (many years ago) there was a male teacher/f
Stories about transgressive behaviour are always most effective when they take you into the mindset of the perpetrator. In The Kingdom of Childhood, we hear first-hand the story of Judy, a middle-aged kindergarten teacher who begins a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy. It all begins so innocently, you'd never think the story was headed in that direction if the cover copy didn't (prudently) signpost it. It's true we are quickly made aware Judy is sexually frustrated and no longer has a p ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wasn't a big fan of this book. The positives: it was an easy, engaging read--a page-turner that held my interest.

The negatives: I flat-out hated the main character, Judy. We know from the synopsis it's about a teacher beginning an affair with her son's 16-year-old friend, but the actual progression of the "relationship" goes from unsettling to downright disturbing. And it wasn't just her interactions with that boy that were off. She dealt with her two children very impersonally, like they were
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-review, bea-2011
The Kingdom Of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman is one of those books with a subject that makes your skin crawl, but is a train wrecking told so spellbindingly that it’s impossible to set down.

Read the rest of my review here
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Judy McFarland is a long-time teacher at the Waldorf school in Sylvania, Maryland, but lately her life has been pretty unhappy. Her husband doesn't have time for her, her children are distant and detached, and her closest friend and confidante recently passed away. So despite knowing that its wrong, when the opportunity to hook up with one of the older students at the school arises, she takes it. Zach is sixteen, with one foot firmly in adulthood and the other clinging to his youth. Being with J ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
My Opinion:
Amazing! This book is just that. It is truly hard to describe how I feel about this book. The book looks through the eyes of Judy and her past. She is a disturbed woman but we don’t learn that until much later in the book,so at first she reminds you of everyone’s mom. The problem is,she isn’t. This book is bizarre and you at first hate it,until you realize that you are loving how much you hate it. It’s sick and twisted and just plain wrong,yet you can’t stop reading it. You are so dra
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2011
this book...i don't even know where to begin. i guess with the plot: judy is a 40-something kindergarten teacher in a waldorf school in maryland. she has two older children. her daughter is away at college & busy rejecting the waldorf values she'd had been instilled with as a child by becoming a crazy right-wing baptist. her son is finishing up his senior year at the waldorf school & rebels by being a bit of a bro-dude & spending all his time with his girlfriend. judy's husband, russ ...more
Ashley Nelson
Not a book for everyone. Major props to the author for weaving a complex, enthralling story around a usually tawdry subject. Extremely well written, it left me guessing to the last page at how it would end. The narrative never feels preachy, instead the reader is left to make one's own opinions on the moral and ethical issues that rise from a student/teacher affair. Enjoyed it more than expected.
Laura Carns
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance copy of this book, and when I first learned what it was about, I was a bit leery. Such potentially explosive and controversial subject matter would have to be handled with great care and skill to avoid being simply tawdry and uncomfortable.

Not only was I pleasantly surprised, but I was hooked. Once I got about 30 pages in, I found myself so drawn in by the characters that I simply could not put the book down. The plot moves along so well -- it's a strange combination of the
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wow. This book was a tough one for me, but I cannot give it less than it is due. To say that I enjoyed it would be incorrect, but the writing was beautiful. In fact, it was the beautiful writing, so tactile and sensory, that made the sex scenes between Judy and Zach so uncomfortable to read. However, this was clearly the intent, therefore the author was successful. I got swept up in the downward spiral of the characters, knowing no happy ending was in sight. I was so fascinated by the concept of ...more
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
***Originally Posted to: Bookish Blog

The Kingdom of Childhood is a powerful, deeply disturbing, dark and disquieting read. Rebecca Coleman skillfully tackled an unbelievably hard topic, one that not many dare talk about, not to mention write a book about it - I'm talking about sexual relationship between an adult and a minor. And the way she did it is simply WOW. It gets to you. Crawls deep under your skin. Chills and disgusts you. But at the same time it captivates you in the most sickening way
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction, abuse, 2011
4.5 Stars

I feel the need to start off by admitting that I was extremely leery of this book simply because of the fact that its first award was given by Amazon. The fact that it’s also a starred review from the Library Journal was not helpful either. I am the type of person who generally hates everything the critics love.

So here’s the deal. I love this book. And not because it’s just oh so fabulously written that it needs to win every award known to man. It’s because I now feel like I’ve had an
If this book did not have an interesting topic (adult woman seducing a teenage boy) it would have gotten only 1 star. I think Coleman's writing was trite, her foreshadowing clunky and obvious, and her lack of consistency in characters downright annoying.

Most of my notes from the first third of this book have to do with frustration that Coleman doesn't appear to understand how much the typical 16-18 year old knows about sex and the world at large. When Judy first meets Zach (as one of her son's f
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It tells the story of Judy McFarland, a middle-aged Waldorf school teacher, and the affair she enters into with sixteen-year old Zach Patterson. The narrative shifts back and forth between Judy and Zach, and also from past to present, slowly revealing the damaging events that occurred in Judy's past that have led her to where she is now.

The writing is superb on every level. It is quite clearly the work of someone who has st
Apr 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
The book jacket states this is a "love story" and "The most anticipated and controversial novel of the year"....a lot of hype over what is really quite a bland, and at times irritating, novel. The obvious comparison is to Zoe Heller's "Notes on a Scandal" which, in my opinion, is a much better book.

Judy is a 40-something teacher who becomes besotted with Zach a 16 year old student at the same school; Judy's relationship with her husband is floundering, and she doesn't get on with her boss, or ma
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2011
This is a book that begs a discussion. It's challenging, not comfortable (particularly for some since the author tackles the taboo topic of sex between an adult and a child). There are quite a few layers to this story and Coleman's use of Steiner's Waldorf educational method surprisingly holds them all in place quite well. I liked the flashbacks to an earlier time in Germany and the references to the book of moral lessons and Struwwelpeter. They coincided well with the festivals and some of the ...more
Originally reviewed on my blog:

It’s like a train wreck that you can’t tear your eyes away from. There were MANY, MANY moments throughout this book that I said to myself, “I cannot read one more word of this.” It sickened and disgusted me. It’s creepy, disturbing, chilling, and just downright gross. This book will make your skin crawl. I’m not sure how I feel about myself as a person considering I actually read the entire thing. With that said, I’ll get into the rest of the review. . .

Judy McFarl
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rebecca Coleman’s The Kingdom of Childhood is an explosive, dynamic and horrifying look at how completely unhinged one woman becomes in her quest to rekindle the innocence — the purity, maybe — of her childhood. In doing so, she seduces a teenage boy — a friend of her own son — and uses him for her immodest gains.

Or does she?

There are no easy answers in Coleman’s debut novel, which is equal parts fascinating and horrifying. More than once I could only scan the pages with my jaw hitting my chest,
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have to applaud Rebecca for writing a book that I think everyone else would be afraid too. Kingdom of Childhood is about a teacher starting a sexual affair with a teenager at her school. I have to admit that this is a sad story. And the truth is I actually feel bad for the main character Judy because I can see why she felt that starting a sexual relationship with Zach wasn't an issue. Having both characters experience things in life that can be mind altering. And those kind of experiences mak ...more
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time taken to read -

Pages - 400

Publisher - MIRA Books

Blurb from Goodreads

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
Samantha March
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC for The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman, and though I agreed to read and review, I was a little worried about what my reaction would be. I do like to explore beyond the chick lit genre, and this one is definitely way out that realm. The main character is Judy McFarland, a typical suburban mom whose profession is a kindergarten teacher. She has one son, a senior named Scott, and a husband that is manic over his doctoral dissertation. Judy’s marriage has already begun to ...more
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
This turned out to be a much different book than I had anticipated. I had heard it was bout a teacher who worked at the Waldorf School who was having a romantic affair. Since my grand daughter went to a Waldorf school and I was familiar with its methods and New Age philosophy, I thought it would be interesting.
The book did have lots of detail related to the school that I had seen fisthand, like the spiral light ceremony and candle lighting. But I wasn't expecting the torrid, erotic affair betwee
Alisha Marie
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
So, usually I love any book that is psychologically thrilling and I never shy away from reading about a disturbing subject. However, for some strange reason, I was a bit put off while reading The Kingdom of Childhood. Yes, while reading the synopsis of the book, I did realize that the subject matter would include a woman who was having an affair with a teenager. I just didn't realize it would affect me the way it did. I was thoroughly squicked out. Seriously, this book was icky and I sometimes d ...more
Moonlight Gleam
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
The focus of the story is on the life of Judy McFarland, a middle-aged kindergarten teacher at a private school. Her marriage is falling apart as her husband Russ places his importance on work, and treats Judy as though she isn’t even there. The added pressure of needing to find ways to raise money for Waldorf before it gets shut down sends Judy spiraling downwards. Feeling as though she is all alone, Judy instantly enjoys receiving attention from a teenage student named Zach Patterson. As this ...more
sarah  corbett morgan
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Judy McFarland is at a tipping point. Her marriage with husband, Russ, is crumbling, one child is already out of the nest and another is due to leave soon, her school is on financial skids, and a close friend has died. This pressure cooker is about to shatter her defense mechanisms, allowing her enter into a self-destructive relationship with a young boy, Zach, a friend of her teenaged son and a student at the Waldorf school where she teaches.

Zach is not without fault in the relationship, and,
Deborah Sloan
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
At the local Waldorf School Kindergarten teacher Judy McFarland feels her life slipping away as her husband Russ works continuously on his dissertation and their son Scott becomes more involved with his friends in his teen years. Judy finds the only spark of interest in her life now is in the newest student of the Waldorf School a classmate of her son,the transplanted 16 year old Zach Patterson who reminds her of a childhood friend she was much comforted by. But perhaps Judy’s recent loss of her ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it

To use an overused phrase, The Kingdom of Childhood is a train-wreck and you just can't look away. What starts as a mutual attraction quickly spirals into something dangerous where one person, tragically, has all of the control. The relationship between Zach and Judy is far from a healthy one. The story is told from both of their perspectives. One chapter is Judy and the next chapter is Zach. As the unhealthy obsession unfolds it is very hard to put the bo
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
This book wasn't as satisfying as I expected it to be.

First of all, I'd like to point out that considering the fact that this book dealt with an extremely difficult subject (both ethically and in literature), the author handled and unfolded it with quite a talent. Judy's and Zach's love affair was both admirable and scary. Both of them wanted to escape from their own nightmares, from a life and a past that had let them down in every single way. But, of course, Judy was much sicker than Zach, a s
Oct 17, 2011 rated it 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
Dec 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I've seen many a Lifetime movie, but they didn't quite prepare me for this. The ick factor of the relationship between a middle aged, female teacher (mother and wife) and a 16 year old boy really creeped me out. I suppose the writing was okay, and the characters, for all in intents and purposes, were well-fleshed out. Page by page I grew increasingly more uncomfortable, so kudos to the author if that was the intention. For whatever reason, I couldn't turn away, and found myself rather engaged fo ...more
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Inklings: July's book and meeting 14 8 Aug 01, 2012 05:56PM  
A little more? 5 56 Apr 28, 2012 07:30PM  
Giveaways and Con...: Win: The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman 1 9 Sep 27, 2011 05:56AM  
Aussie Readers: Giveaway: The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman 3 17 Sep 19, 2011 02:00AM  
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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. A native New Yorker, she now lives and works near Washington, D.C.
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