Book Review: The Kingdom of Childhood – Rebecca Coleman

Title: The Kingdom of Childhood
Author: Rebecca Coleman
ISBN: 9780778312789
Pages: 352
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Judy McFarland is a kindergarten teacher whose life is less than perfect.  Her teenage son has checked out of the family, ready for college, while her relationship with her husband has become completely toxic.  Alone, without anyone to rely on, Judy connects with a high school student, Zach, a friend of her son’s, who is working with Judy on a fundraiser for their school.  But when their relationship turns into something more than friendship, things become very complicated for both of them.

Review:

The Kingdom of Childhood is a difficult book to review.  It is a brave, daring book, tackling a subject that most of us would rather not think about.  But because of that difficult subject, it makes it a hard book to read.  While this would make an incredible book club pick, it’s not the most enjoyable novel to sit down with.  I’ll admit that I considered putting it down multiple times, but in the end, I chose to stick with it, and I’m glad I did.

Judy is an incredibly complicated and disturbed woman.  At the beginning, she seems perfectly normal.  In fact, I felt bad for her; her husband seemed very difficult and completely uninterested in her, and it’s clear that their marriage was over.  I wanted to reach through the pages and shake some sense into Judy once things with Zach started heading in a romantic direction, but I still really felt for her.  But all of a sudden, about halfway through the novel, Judy transforms from a sympathetic, misguided character to a manipulative, scheming woman who is clearly taking advantage of this poor teenage boy.  It’s a believable transformation, don’t get me wrong, but it’s difficult to watch.  Readers will question how they ever tried to sympathize with this horrible woman.

Part of the reason Judy’s psychotic break is believable in The Kingdom of Childhood is due to Coleman’s ingenious use of flashbacks to illustrate Judy’s true character.  The novel jumps in time from the present day to Judy’s childhood in Germany and her friendship with a boy named Rudi.  This relationship and the way it ended has important repercussions for Judy’s mental and emotional health in the present day.

In The Kingdom of Childhood, Rebecca Coleman successfully paints a disturbing picture of a women’s descent into complete self-destruction.  Judy gives up on everything in her life one by one in her singular quest for Zach’s time and attention, and it’s almost frightening the way this seemingly normal woman breaks down.  While the subject matter is difficult and it’s not necessarily an enjoyable book to read, it’s definitely a book worth reading if you can handle what it’s about.

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Comments

  1. Despite the difficult topic, I think I would like this. I really like books that give me a lot to think about and talk about.

  2. Despite the difficult topic, I think I would like this. I really like books that give me a lot to think about and talk about.

  3. It’s hard to say you enjoy a book like that, but I do find myself engrossed in them. I think Carl must hate it, though, because I talk about them constantly.

  4. It’s hard to say you enjoy a book like that, but I do find myself engrossed in them. I think Carl must hate it, though, because I talk about them constantly.

  5. This sounds like it would really make a great book club pick. I get what you say about such a difficult topic being difficult to handle when you are just reading it solo but I think that with a group, it could lead to some very insightful conversation. I will keep this one in mind for a future book club pick — you know, when I get my book club organized and stuff.

  6. This sounds like it would really make a great book club pick. I get what you say about such a difficult topic being difficult to handle when you are just reading it solo but I think that with a group, it could lead to some very insightful conversation. I will keep this one in mind for a future book club pick — you know, when I get my book club organized and stuff.

  7. This books a little like Notes on a Scandal, but more dark and malevolent somehow. I would love to read this one and see what I think, and how the two books compare. Though the subject matter is indeed disturbing, it sounds like I book I would not be able to put down. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one with us!

  8. This books a little like Notes on a Scandal, but more dark and malevolent somehow. I would love to read this one and see what I think, and how the two books compare. Though the subject matter is indeed disturbing, it sounds like I book I would not be able to put down. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one with us!

  9. This books a little like Notes on a Scandal, but more dark and malevolent somehow. I would love to read this one and see what I think, and how the two books compare. Though the subject matter is indeed disturbing, it sounds like I book I would not be able to put down. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one with us!

  10. This books a little like Notes on a Scandal, but more dark and malevolent somehow. I would love to read this one and see what I think, and how the two books compare. Though the subject matter is indeed disturbing, it sounds like I book I would not be able to put down. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one with us!

  11. I definitely contemplated putting this one aside a few times because it was just too hard to read, but I’m also glad I stuck with it!

    You’re absolutely right here: “Readers will question how they ever tried to sympathize with this horrible woman.” That’s absolutely how I felt. While initially I thought Judy was just a misguided and slightly damaged woman, time demonstrated that she was totally unhinged and reprehensible.

  12. I definitely contemplated putting this one aside a few times because it was just too hard to read, but I’m also glad I stuck with it!

    You’re absolutely right here: “Readers will question how they ever tried to sympathize with this horrible woman.” That’s absolutely how I felt. While initially I thought Judy was just a misguided and slightly damaged woman, time demonstrated that she was totally unhinged and reprehensible.

  13. I have an e galley of this book, and I asked to read it, so I’m going to do it. The taboo subject matter makes it all the more interesting.

  14. I have an e galley of this book, and I asked to read it, so I’m going to do it. The taboo subject matter makes it all the more interesting.

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:  I welcome comments and read each one I receive. If your comment needs a response, I will provide it in a timely manner, as I read every comment I receive. Please keep your comments civil and polite! I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or inappropriate. Because of spam, I have to moderate comments on old posts. Please be patient - I will approve your comment quickly.

Before the tag in the Genesis footer: !-- Quantcast Tag -->