Thursday, April 5, 2012

Julie's Review: The Kingdom of Childhood

Summary: 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.

Review: I don't know what to say about The Kingdom of Childhood. Perhaps it's because when it came out there was pretty good buzz about the taboo subject matter and I already knew somewhat what the novel contained. That being said I did enjoy delving into the characters in this novel. I honestly didn't like Judy and for me, she didn't redeem herself in any way in the novel. In fact, I wanted to empathize with her but as her story unfolded I just couldn't. I could understand her loneliness, her bitterness, her sadness but I couldn't understand her attraction to Zach.

All of us want to stay young but most of us don't do that by sleeping with a teenager. Zach was pretty mature for his age but yet he was still only 16. He was new to the school and trying to fit in. He's a teenage boy and hormones are on the loose and they don't know what lines to cross or what not to cross. He was lonely and trying to reconcile his mother's affair.

I know the law says that Zach was a victim but I just don't feel like he was. He wanted to sleep with Judy as much as she wanted to sleep with him. Did he want the sex to stop at some point? Yes but he had the power to stop it because in the end he did. The truth, I felt, was that he didn't want it to stop until too many people knew about it. He liked it being secretive and illicit. Like most teenagers he didn't really know what he wanted.

Am I saying that the affair was ok? No, but I don't think it was all Judy's fault. I think that Zach needs to be held accountable for his actions as well. Sure she was the "adult" but based on what we know about her, she's not exactly stable and able to make decisions.

Did Judy's past shape how she acts in the present? Sure, our past shapes all of us but most of us still can tell right from wrong. Did mental health play a part in this? Perhaps but that really didn't come to light until the end of the novel.

The Kingdom of Childhood isn't for everyone and I'm not sure it was for me. I appreciate the fact that Ms. Coleman took on a taboo subject but I'm not sure it's one I had to read a novel on since it's seems to be so prevalent in the news.

Final Take: 3.25/5

For another opinion, check out Alice's review.



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