Rebecca Coleman confronts the controversial, uncomfortable subject of an affair between a student and teacher in her debut novel.
Among nearly 200 debuts listed by Library Journal‘s “First Novels: Fall Fundamentals” by Barbara Hoffert and Meaghan Curran, this is one of only 17 honored with a star. The original LJ review recommended The Kingdom of Childhood to “fans of Jodi Picoult’s realistic, ethic-driven novels.” Many teens are certainly among them.
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COLEMAN, Rebecca. The Kingdom of Childhood. 352p. Mira. 2011. pap. $15.95. ISBN 978-0-7783-1278-9. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Zach is the new kid at school, bursting with false bravado and hoping to catch the eye of that blonde girl, Fairen. He certainly doesn’t anticipate locking lips with the kindergarten teacher, Judy McFarland. For her part, Judy has loved her job as a Waldorf teacher for almost 20 years. But as the school year commences, her husband is engrossed in writing his doctoral dissertation, her two kids have rejected the New Agey-ness of their Waldorf upbringing, and her long-time friend and colleague has died of cancer. She is needy, and Zach becomes exactly what she needs. The novel follows the trajectory of an adolescent fantasy scenario: What happens if you actually do have sex with a teacher? While much of the story is told from Judy’s viewpoint, laced with forewarnings of the tragedy ahead, Zach’s agony over the increasingly horrific affair is sure to resonate with teens. Readers who attended Waldorf schools, or unconventional schools of any type, will appreciate the clash between childhood wonder and adolescent cynicism experienced by Zach and his friends as they discover a world that contradicts their upbringing. The title is borrowed from a series of lectures by Waldorf founder, Rudolph Steiner, and aptly summarizes the inner conflict that torments both Judy and Zach. While the walls of the kingdom provide comfort and protection in childhood, they become but a fragile shelter from the reality of adulthood.–Diane Colson, formerly at New Port Richey Library, FL