Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman


Judy MacFarland is a bored and frustrated forty-three-year-old kindergarten teacher whose family is falling apart before her eyes. Her husband is so engrossed in his pursuit of a PhD and writing his dissertation, plus his secret addiction to prescription drugs, he just doesn’t have time to be a husband to her anymore. Her son is a high school senior busy doing his own thing, and his girlfriend. And her daughter, away at College, has suddenly decided to embrace Christianity and sign a purity pledge.

Zach Patterson, is a sixteen-year-old high school junior, who has just moved to Maryland from New Hampshire, he misses his friends, and is still struggling to come to terms with the knowledge of his mother’s secret extramarital affair.

When the two are brought together to work on a school fundraiser it is a recipe for disaster. Zach and Judy begin an affair. It’s just sex, no love or genuine emotion is involved, yet it soon becomes an addiction for both, a habit neither can break, though Zach repeatedly struggles to. He’s attracted to a girl his own age and wants to pursue that and just be a typical teenager, but every time he tries to break it off with Judy he only ends up back in bed with her. Judy can’t take “No” for an answer, and sometimes it’s just easier to give in and get it over with and give her what she wants.

The book alternates between the past and present, with chapters about Judy’s childhood in Germany with her mentally ill mother, and her father’s affair with the hired girl, to help the reader better understands the secrets and instability she harbors.

If you’re interested in stories about teacher-student affairs, you might find this book interesting to see how these situations can develop and the psychology involved, though these particular characters can be somewhat annoying, like a cheese grater on the nerves, at times.

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