Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman - Review, Interview & Giveaway

Genre: General Fiction
Publication Date: 27th September 2011
Pages: 400
Book Source: Mira & BookTrib Blog Tour

Synopsis: 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, each of them. Judy sees in Zach the elements of a young man she loved when she was only a child. But what Zach does not realize is that-- for Judy-- their relationship is only the latest in a lifetime of disturbing secrets.

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/female student scandal resulting in the teacher losing his job regardless of innocence or guilt. Judy's behaviour is morally appalling, an abuse of trust, power, age and position but I couldn't help feel sympathy for her sad childhood & disconnected, lonely marriage.

Coleman's writing is a visual feast, I enjoyed the flashbacks to Judy's childhood in Germany, I was captivated by the depth of emotion in phrases and the heightened insight into motivations.

Home, where a pencil carelessly left in a side table drawer provoked a fit of shaking, impotent hysteria, as though Judy had accidentally punched through a thin membrane and left her mother hemorrhaging sanity onto the living room floor. (page 83)

You can see the accident waiting to happen, the lives unravelling, the thrill in the attraction, the excitement in the complete wrongness, the fear of discovery, the loss of all sense and reason. The Kingdom of Childhood is one thought-provoking ride.

Want to know more about Rebecca Coleman? Check out her website or blog (which I've been lurking around & love)

Interview with Rebecca Coleman:

1.   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.

2. Which came first, the characters or the plot?
The plot came first, and the way it emerged, the plot was to answer the question, "Why would anyone do that?" So I began with this situation-- this very common news item, teacher-student affair-- and tried to figure out what kinds of people would do this, and why. From there, the characters emerged. But because of that, I suppose I've been a little naive in being caught off-guard by how many people find the concept of the book shocking. I thought I was taking a very well-established part of the news cycle and turning it into a work of fiction. What the characters are doing is scandalous, for sure, but it's hardly as if they're inventing a new crime.

3. How long have you been interested in the Waldorf School Movement?
When I was 14, one of my mother's co-workers took me to a candlelight Christmas event at her young son's Waldorf school, and I found the environment absolutely fascinating. I had never seen such a beautiful school. It reminded me of the schools I attended as a kid in Germany, but with some elements taken to an extreme degree. So as I grew older, I read everything I could find about the movement, and decided that when I had kids I wanted them to go to Waldorf school. Then my oldest son started at a Waldorf preschool, and that didn't work out very well. His teacher actively disliked him, and there's a twisted sort of materialism that I kept bumping into at every turn. In short, I saw a side to it that wasn't as beautiful.

I'm thrilled to offer a hardcopy of THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD by Rebecca Coleman to one lucky reader of my blog.

Sorry US only

Leave a comment or a question for Rebecca & don't forget to include an email address.

+2 post about this give-away on twitter or your blog & leave a link.

Competition ends 11th October and the winner will be announced on my blog.


  1. I knew I wanted to read this but now after reading Rebecca's interview.. I want to read it even more. WOW!!! Tanks for posting and Rebecca, thanks for sharing.



  2. My pleasure-- thanks for reading! And thanks so much, Teddyree!

  3. What a great review and a new to me title and author. I enjoyed Rebecca's comments (folding laundry is such a universal chore!) and wonder if she's working on another title? Thansk!

  4. I'm new to this book. Great review. I'm really interested in reading it now :)

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  5. I loved the review and the interview and I'm very interested in the book.

    Thanks for the chance.


  6. This is the first I have heard of this book but I look forward to reading it!


  7. I wish you'd quit reviewing such great books, LOL! I am overwhelmed by my wish list already!

  8. Thanks for the review and interview - don't enter me as I'm in Australia but luckily recently won a copy anyway - I am really looking forward to reading it!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  9. This sounds like a fascinating novel!

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

  10. The book sounds absolutely amazing. I had never heard of the book prior to this giveaway, but you made me a beliver.


  11. I hadn't heard of this book before, but now that I have, I definitely want to read it!!

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  12. I havent heard of this one but it sounds good.

  13. I am also curious about the kinds of thinking that goes into behavior...I made a career out of that! LOL

    I would love to win this one.


  14. I tweeted about the giveaway here:


  15. Oh my gosh, this books sounds great! I would love to read it.
    Thanks for the chance to win it!

    lovestoread0708 AT yahoo DOT com


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