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The Kingdom of Childhood Paperback – September 27, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A natural pick for book clubs... Coleman writes with a flair for capturing the underbelly of the human psyche and the all-consuming nature of desire."

-BookPage

"Enthralling... recommended for fans of Jodi Picoult's realistic, ethics-driven novels, as well as book clubs looking for interesting debate."

-Library Journal, starred review


"[A] gutsy debut novel... Nimbly exploring such hot-button issues as the abuse of power, betrayal of trust, and predatory nature of sexual obsession, it is poised to generate major book-group buzz."

-Booklist

"Wow, what a book! The story just spirals and I completely got caught up in the madness."--Carol Fitzgerald, BookReporter

"From start to finish, The Kingdom of Childhood kept me riveted....Coleman is a gifted storyteller with the ability to breathe life into characters so real I felt bereft saying goodbye to them at the end. Watch out, world: Rebecca Coleman is here to stay."

-Elizabeth Flock, New York Times bestselling author of Me & Emma

"The Kingdom of Childhood is a dark tale of sexual obsession gone awry. Coleman never flinches in revealing the disturbing secrets of the neighbors just down the street. A gripping tale."
-Keith Donohue, national bestselling author of The Stolen Child

"Ms. Coleman tells the edgy story of Judy McFarland with an exquisite use of language. The meshing of the past with the present, good with bad...turned what could have been ‘ just another novel' into art. The experience was stunning."
-Ann Hite, author of Ghost on Black Mountain

About the Author

Rebecca Coleman 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. Visit her at www. RebeccaColeman.net.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Mira; 1st edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780778312789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778312789
  • ASIN: 077831278X
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,347,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Rebecca Coleman is the author of "The Kingdom of Childhood," an ABNA 2010 semifinalist. She 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. Visit her at www.RebeccaColeman.net.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Erica Hayes on March 27, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 studied the craft and knows not just how to write a sentence but also put together a whole story. I can't tell you the number of books I've read where the author was lacking in one of those areas. Coleman's eye for detail is flawless, and I especially enjoyed the descriptions of Bavaria, where Judy spent part of her childhood. Having never been there myself, I was still able to picture the surroundings perfectly. Coleman's way with description is both poetic and subtle, woven effortlessly into the story.

The dialogue is also spot-on (the conversations between Zach and his friends ring so true you might as well be sitting in the middle of a bustling high school cafeteria at lunchtime), and the depth at which these characters have been explored is so thorough you truly come away feeling as if you know them.

Of course I don't want to give anything away, but the ending is brilliant. I finished the book feeling completely satisfied and simultaneously hopeful and unsettled. An interesting mix, and it's a story I thought about for days afterward.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Williams on November 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
Judy McFarland is a forty-something kindergarten teacher in a Waldorf school. She is lonely and unhappy in her marriage and grieving for her colleague and best friend, Bonnie, who died of cancer. Zach Patterson, 16, has recently moved to the area and is friends with Judy's son. When the two are thrown together to organize a school fundraiser, their relationship quickly morphs from a professional to an intensely personal one.

Both Judy and Zach are lonely and, even though their relationship is highly inappropriate, the reader is drawn into it with them and can almost understand how it happens. Still, the power dynamic is extremely unbalanced. As more about Judy's past is revealed, the book gets darker and creepier. We know this is not going to end well.

Coleman handles this disturbing topic without taking the Lifetime movie route. However, none of these characters are likable once we get to know them. The story kept me reading compulsively, but left me feeling...icky.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on September 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
Like many Americans, Judy McFarland started life with high ideals. She seemed to share a connection with her husband Russ, and they dreamed of enduring couplehood. Judy would become a kindergarten teacher at a prestigious private school, and Russ would work toward being a prosperous professor at a local university. Optimistically, they had intended to raise two children into flourishing and productive adults. They were both hippies and stuck to New Age ideals, determining to put family first. All these dreams were centered on noble enough principles, but somehow they never took off and nothing turned out like they planned.

Now in her 40s, Judy is silently dispassionate. Russ is obsessed with his doctoral dissertation, to the degree that his wife and family have ceased to matter. Neither sees a way out of the agony and fears of daily life, and both are feeling their age. The children have become distant and are nearly grown, the daughter away at college and the son a senior at the same private school where Judy teaches. Russ throws himself into work while Judy secretly considers divorce, becoming bitter and more detached with every passing day. Completing all responsibilities with robotic indifference, Judy has begun picturing co-workers and strangers in inappropriate erotic visions. This seems innocent enough, though she's been dreaming about some people. Thus far, however, all her thoughts have been just that --- vague thoughts with no plan.

Jumping back to the 1960s, we see some picturesque visions of Judy's childhood in Bavaria, through the eyes of a very frightened and apathetic little girl. She had been desperate to escape home, evading uncomfortable thoughts and places wherever she could.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By LaurainMD on September 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 inevitability of an oncoming train wreck, mixed with a breathless feeling that you really don't know what will happen. You can sense imminent disaster without being able to tell precisely what form that disaster will take, and just how devastating the damage will be. The characters are exceptionally well-drawn, with both the middle-aged Judy and the teenage Zach coming across with total authenticity. There are no angels and no boogeymen in this novel -- each character is flawed, each character has both gifts and baggage that propel them and defeat them simultaneously. Coleman explores ethically complex issues with an unflinching eye that forces the reader to lay aside assumptions and prejudices. The line between child and adult, the possibility of innocence, the importance of fidelity, the very nature of evil... these are all examined in a fresh light.

Furthermore, the writing is superb. Time and again I was caught by a turn of phrase, an image, a lyrical description that stopped me in my tracks with its loveliness and accuracy. Coleman's facility with language helps to create worlds so richly drawn that the reader is utterly immersed. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes a page-turner that also makes you think. The Kingdom of Childhood pulls you along like a roller coaster ride, and leaves you pondering its truths long after.
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