Only Child by Rhiannon Navin #bookreview


For readers of Room and The Girls, a dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children, narrated by a seven-year-old boy who reminds us that sometimes the littlest bodies hold the biggest hearts and the quietest voices speak the loudest.

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

Paperback, 292 pages

Published 2018 by Mantle


Amazon UK

If you don’t want to jump into this book after reading it and hug the narrator, 6 year old Zach, then you must have a heart of stone!  This debut novel is such a powerful, and extremely poignant story considering the news events of recent weeks, that it made my heart break constantly and struggling to read through the tears!

The child narrator is an extremely touching way to tell this story.  He and his classmates are hiding in a closet in their classroom as we first meet them, as a school shooting is under way.  The book has immediate impact on you reading, and the story that follows is how does he, his family and the community at large deal with such a tragedy and try and move on.  In many ways, they can’t move on and as a child he notices the smallest of details and really brings home the enormity of change that surrounds him.

The impact the shooting has on Zachs’ family is extremely heartbreaking as they go through the joy of finding Zach alive, but then the heartbreak of hearing that his older brother Andy was one of the victims.  You could sense his mum and dad struggling with those emotions throughout and how they’d turn on each other in their different ways of dealing with grief and it would often seem like they’d forgotten about poor Zach at times.

Zach is a brilliant character to narrate – his mind wanders as he struggles to process what he’s been through and what is happening to him and his family, the nightmares that follow are heartbreaking and I just found it an absorbing way of seeing such a tragic event through his eyes.

A stunning story.  A must read!