Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Only Child

Rhiannon Navin

"Congrats to Rhiannon Navin--this is an outstanding debut."—New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben

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"Congrats to Rhiannon Navin--this is an outstanding debut."--Harlan Coben

"An astonishing debut novel."--Louisa Ermelino, Publishers Weekly

"One of the big debuts of next year."--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

"A powerful exercise in empathy and perspective."--Kirkus Reviews

For fans of Room and the novels of Jodi Picoult, a dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children, narrated by a six-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.

Advance Galley Reviews

Zach is seven years old when his world collapses. A mentally ill man enters his elementary school with a gun. One of those murdered is Zach's ten year old brother Andy, a bright and vivacious child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder whose management had already stressed their parent's marriage. They are unable to agree on anything now: the mother bent on revenge, the father showing understanding of Zach's regression while he goes to work and carries on.  Zach is left on his own to deal with the conflicting feelings he is experiencing. In his secret hideout in Andy's closet he colors his emotions on separate paper; they are easier to handle this way. Red for embarrassment for peeing in bed like a baby. Black for for being scared and the bad dreams at night in which he relives the day of the school shooting. Green, like the Incredible Hulk, for anger. Gray for the sadness, like clouds on a rainy day. He also returns to his favorite book series in which children learn the secrets of happiness. Rhiannon's debut novel Only Child is written in Zach's voice, told from his perspective. The adult world feels distant and nearly unmindful of his existence. As adult readers, we understand the hints that pass over Zach's understanding. And we are heartbroken for Zach and for his parents as well. It is marvelous that Zach is the moral compass of the story. He demonstrates a wisdom that the adults lack; caught up in their own pain they are oblivious to each other's needs. Zach seeks for healing and wholeness, and as the novel ends with Christmas time arrived, he is truly the light which comes to show the way to salvation for his broken family: forgiveness, kindness, thinking of others, and clinging to love. The journey into the horror of a school shooting resolves by showing us how to live in this world. In the end, I was glad to have read this book, even now in mid-December when others turn to light holiday fare.  I received a free ebook from the publisher through First to Read in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

This book...just wow. By the end I was almost sobbing and in all my years of reading that he's NEVER happened. So beautifully written and characters so fleshed out, I felt that I knew them. I can not wait to recommend this book to all my fellow readers, and even other parents. Reading a book that could have been seen through the eyes of my own six year old, was almost too much at times, and at others I knew that she would see the situation in the same way and was so heart warming. I loved this debut and eagerly await her next novel. Highly recommended! ,

I picked this book because of the recommendation of Harlan Coben. He is a favorite of mine. I found telling this story from the point of view of a six year old was compelling and for the most part the author kept true to the voice of the narrator. There were a few words and thoughts of his that didn’t ring true for narrator s age. I could not put this book down. I felt for the family but especially for Zach. Also I Thought the ending could have been stronger. Very seldom in life does everything work out so neatly. Great idea and great execution. Highly recommend

The author's debut novel captured a different view of school shootings by giving us the story through the eyes of a 6 year old first grader. Presenting the story from the viewpoint of a 6 year old made this an even more horrific story as we witness his feelings as well as his loss of innocence. As the book begins, the 'stranger danger' drill in Zach's classroom becomes the real thing as the teacher pushes all of the students into a closet and holds the door shut. The kids don't really know what's going on so Zach talks about how hot it is and about his teacher's bracelet while there are popping sounds in the background that are actually gunshots. When the police come and move the children to the church, they are still unaware of what really happened and Zach never thinks about his older brother Andy who turns out to be one of the 17 students and staff killed that day. Zach's family totally melts down and Zach has nightmares and starts to wet the bed again. I wanted to shake the adults around Zach because it seemed like no one really had time for him and his issues from the shooting because everyone was still dealing with it on their own personal level. This is a wonderfully written well told story that could happen -- and has -- everywhere in the world. I get upset to see this compared to Room and The Girls. This novel can stand on its own and doesn't need comparisons to books that are nothing like it. I can't wait to see what books this author will write in the future. Thanks to First to Read for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

This book was a heart breaking and terrifying look into a child's horrific ordeal during a school shooting in which he and his classmates are hiding in the closet with their teacher while his older brother is killed along with 18 other kids and staff. Told from Zach's six year old point of view, the story shows his life after the shooting, dealing with his own frightening experience and the aftermath of nightmares, and behavioral changes, but also the breakdown of his parents, and feeling alone and forgotten. His feelings toward his brother run the gauntlet from relief because Andy had not treated him well to forgiveness and acceptance that Andy had truly been sad just as he was feeling now. Zach's parents handle Andy's death differently, his dad eventually bonds with Zach and sees how their actions were harming him. His mother in her pain mistreats Zach, and in her misguided vengeance tries to make the parents of the shooter accountable for his actions. Zach teaches his family sympathy and begins the healing for them. Could not put the book down.

**Thanks to First To Read for providing me a complimentary copy of ONLY CHILD in exchange for my honest review** Six-year-old Zach hides in a closet with his teacher and classmates while s gunman kills nineteen students and staff, including his older brother Andy. Now his mother cries all the time and snaps at him, his dad escapes to work and Zach tries to make sense of it all. Calling ONLY CHILD a special book seems inadequate to express my feelings about Rhiannon Navin’s debut novel. Told from Zach’s point of view, I felt as if a young boy was showing (not telling) the story of trying to comprehend the uncomprehendable. His youthful honesty, whether about peeing the bed or at time feeling glad his brother was gone tugged at my heart. Zach’s little body, filled with so much compassion and love made me want to reach into my Kindle and hug his pain away. While I loved Zach, I wanted to shake his mother. I understood her behavior from an psychointellectual perspective, I had trouble feeling empathy for the way she treated Zach. Her pain blinded her. His father handled Andy’s death in more helpful manner, but that and his past transgression contributed to Zach’s mother’s agony. Navin’s stunning writing never felt like an adult faking a child’s POV. The voice sounded more authentic than ROOM and though sometimes s difficult read, I liked it much more. ONLY CHILD should top all the Best Lists. I can’t wait to see what Navin writes next.


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