Thursday, October 27, 2011
KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD by Rebecca Coleman
I heard so many interesting things about this book (and wasn't able to find it in any local library) that I ended up purchasing it. The book reminded me a great deal of Zoe Heller's WHAT WAS SHE THINKING which was made into a movie called NOTES ON A SCANDAL with Judi Dench.
THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD focuses on two individuals at a Waldorf school, one a sixteen-year-old student named Zach Patterson and one a kindergarten teacher named Judy McFarland. Judy's marriage has been falling apart from sometime and her job is in trouble as the school struggles to remain financially solvent. Still, she remains committed to the ideals of a Waldorf education where childhood is sacred. Zach is a transfer student who was uprooted because of his mother's affair. When the two are thrown together while working on a school fundraiser, their loneliness leads them into a dangerous affair. As the affair progresses, the two can't seem to extricate themselves from it and the secrets of Judy's past are slowly revealed.
While this book wasn't nearly as effective as Heller's, I found it interesting that Coleman framed the story within a Waldorf school. It made for a great juxtaposition. Judy is also a fairly sinister character and I liked how Coleman hinted at dark secrets within her past. Ultimately, though the book and its ending were unsatisfying. I felt that Coleman could have done more.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended with reservations. Coleman puts an interesting spin on this subject matter. While the twists and turns are intriguing, the book ultimately falls a little flat.