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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Only Child triumphs. Zach, at only 6 years old, understands more about the human heart than the broken adults around him. His hope and optimism as he sets out to execute his plan will have every reader cheering him on, and believing in happy endings even in the face of such tragedy. . . . Navin manages to make Zach’s voice heartbreakingly believable.”—Ann Hood, The Washington Post

“Perfect for fans of Room… a heartbreaking but important novel.” —Real Simple 

Readers of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty will also like this tenderhearted debut about healing and family, narrated by an unforgettable 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

This book is simply amazing. Required reading for the times we live in. 5 stars.

Absolutely heart wrenching, timely and believable. After a school shooting a family is forced to redefine their family. Written from the perspective of a six year old boy. One of my favorite books this year!

Unfortunately, due to things in my personal life, I did not get a chance to read this in time. Definitely will seek out the book to read on my own.

Wow! Only Child is an incredible book. It follows Zach who is a six-year old who survives a school shooting, but loses his older brother. It deals with the fear, grief, healing, and forgiveness. Unfortunately, this story is relevant in today’s world. It is especially heart-breaking to see it through the eyes of a six-year old who is only beginning to comprehend some of the events around him. What truly broke my heart was how Zach was overshadowed by his brother both before and after the school shooting. I did enjoy that his father began to see things from Zach’s perspective and tried to be there for him so they could both grieve and heal as a family. This is definitely a five-star book!

I adore this book. In the uncertain world we currently live in, it was an eye-opening experience. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Zach Taylor is only 6, and he's already survived more pain and fear than many adults I know. He was at school one afternoon when a man with a gun came in and started shooting at the students. His first grade classroom was down the hall from the auditorium where the shooting started, so his teacher was able to lock their door and herd her students into the closet where they could be safe. Zach was tasked with holding the closet door closed while Mrs. Russell called the police on her cell phone. He was scared and his arms hurt and he kept hearing loud POPs out in the hallway, but he kept holding on.  It wasn't until later, after the police rescued them, after the school children and teachers were all moved to the church across the street to wait for their parents, that he started looking around for his older brother. Andy, a fifth grader, wasn't with his class.  Zach's mom and dad showed up, and they couldn't find Andy either. They found out which hospital the injured students were taken to, and Zach and his mom go there to try to get more information. Zach's dad stays at the church, just in case Andy shows up there.  Zach survived, but Andy did not. And in the days and weeks that follow, every one in the family has to figure out how to deal with all the pain and fear, guilt and anger that they feel. Their struggle is palpable and their eventual breakthrough is heartwarming and unexpected. Keep the tissues nearby for this one! Only Child is Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, and based on the quality of her writing, it will be far from her last. Equally heartbreaking and uplifting, Only Child is told from Zach's perspective as he works through the feelings he has in the wake of the shooting and watches as his family comes apart at the seams. His safe place is the floor of Andy's bedroom closet, where he talks to his brother and reads to him, trying to keep the feeling of connection alive.  I highly recommend this book, but it will be one of the hardest books you'll read this year. Give yourself the space you need to get through it, and you won't be disappointed. You may even find the secrets to happiness.  Galleys for Only Child were provided by Knopf through their First To Read program, with many thanks.

A school shooting changes the life of a whole town, but this story is from the point of view of a 1st grader. We see how it effected him as well as his family and some of the aftermath. First of all, school shootings are already a sad thing but then to read about one from a child's point of view is literally the most heartbreaking thing I've ever read. His older brother actually died in the shooting so we see from his perspective how this effects not only him but his parents and extended family as well. This book was really hard to read at times for many reasons. The parents were fighting and dealing with their own heartache and the poor main character is kind of left to fend for himself. Plus, I have an anxiety issue and the way the author would describe feelings of panic and anxiety and anger were just so spot on it almost made me start feeling them myself. I'll be interested to see what else this author can put out.

Only Child is a powerful book about a topic that has sadly become a reality far too often. Seeing everything from a child's point of view was heartbreaking and moving. A five star read for me. Thank you first to read for the opportunity to read an arc of this book!

First grader Zach Taylor in rushed and hidden in his classroom closet when a gunman comes to school. As his foot falls asleep, he hears POP POP POP. The story continues to be told through Zach's 6-year old perspective as the families, school, and community deal with the aftermath. Ms. Navin does an incredible job of handling such a serious topic through the innocence of a young boy. Somehow this results in a book that is both heart breaking and optimistic all at the same time. While some people may struggle with the subject matter emotionally, I think the end resulting read is well worth it.

Thank you to First to Read for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Only Child by Rhiannon Navin, a story shared from the point-of-view of six-year-old, Zach, is about a school shooting and its aftermath. Zach was in the school hiding from the shooter and could hear the POP POP POP sound if the gun. While Zach was safe in the closet, his ten-year-old brother wasn’t as lucky. Through the Zach’s eyes, we learn about sadness, grief, anger, loneliness and sympathy. At first, I had a hard time reading this book. I could only manage a couple pages in one sitting before needing to take a break. I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish the book. The school shooting and the initial grief of Zach’s family was very hard to take in, especially as a parent. At some point, I hit a stride with the book and was unable to put it down. Through lots of tears, I read Zach’s entire story and his family’s path towards healing. Unfortunately, while I was reading the book, an actual school shooting occurred. This time in Kentucky. A high school. 2 dead and 18 injured. According to the New York Times, this is the 11th shooting of the year (and it’s only the third week in January). Although this is not an anti-gun book, it is certainly anti-violence. Hopefully, Only Child will shed some light on those impacted by senseless murders and what our country can do to stop this from happening again.

This book was SO SO Sad. It was narrated by Zach, who is 6 when his older brother, Andy 10, is shot to death by a shooter in his school. Zach was at thee school too and he narrates the story in real time from when his teacher hears the first shots to the end of the book a few month later. Zach is a great narrator because he doesn't hold back his feelings about anything and tells it like it is. His observations break my heart because his parents are having such a hard time keeping it together after Andy dies. Both in their different ways, they are mourning and sad and suffering and how they both act affects Zach directly however they do not realize it for a long time. Poor little Zach is sealing with so many feelings about the shooting and his brothers death and his parent's arguing that it just tearing him inside. He so wants his parents to be together and strong because that his what he needs but they are pretty much doing the opposite. His mom is trying to publicize their tragedy and bring shame/blame onto the family of the shooter (the family they have known for years) and that is also super hard. She obviously does not know how to channel her grief in a more productive way--I wanted to slap her! Zach feels it is his job in the end to try and fix everything and amazingly, in his own way, he does. GREAT BOOK! Definitely worth reading. Tough subject but SO worth it! Thanks to First to Read for the advance copy!!!!

This novel seriously made me cry. I found that I did have to put the book often, it was so well written that it felt too real at times. As I was reading it I found myself visualizing every word and it was so heartbreaking. Navin really captured the innocence of a child while taking us on this heartbreaking journey with 6 year old Zach. Following a shooting rampage at his elementary school, we are taken on a very powerful journey of grief and healing. Definitely highly recommended.

Zach can hear the gunshots from the closet of his first grade classroom. He can hear his teacher holding back sobs while on the phone with 911. He can smell the vomit on one of his classmates shirts. He does not think that his brother might be the target of one of those gunshots. But he was. Narrated by young Zach, we learn about the events of this tragic day and the aftermath for the community and his family. It was definitely interesting reading about a school shooting from the perspective of someone so young. You read about how hard it was for him to keep all of his feelings straight and figure them out. He was incredibly honest thinking and saying things that an adult wouldn't dream of saying afterward. Like how everyone is acting like his brother Andy was a loving and well-behaved kid when most of the time, he wasn't. As an adult, you know it wouldn't be appropriate to talk about a deceased child that way and you wonder how can you tell the truth and still be respectful. I spent most of the novel pretty angry with Zach's mom. I don't know what it's like to lose a child and I hope I never do. I'm sure it's the most painful experience in the world. However, she still has one living son who needs her. The maternal instinct should kick in and make sure Zach has all the love and support he needs. Instead she doesn't want to take him to a therapist after he starts exhibiting out-of-character behavior. She doesn't give him the time that he asks for and tells him to go do something else. She interrupts his routines with her pursuit of the shooter's family. Some of Zach's father's mistakes are definitely not honorable, but in the aftermath, he does console and listen to Zach. It makes him seem more favorable regardless of whatever his transgressions. Only Child is a good look at how to deal with grief, how to forgive and learn to be happy again, and that there is a life after tragedy.

This was a heartbreaking story. It's Zach's story of becoming an only child after a shooting at school, and how his family deals with the aftermath. This was an intense read about how we each go though things differently. I'd recommend it to everyone.

I'm still trying to come up with the right words to describe how amazing this novel is. It is absolutely fantastic, and the fact that this came from a debut author is hard to believe.  The novel deals with a difficult topic: gun violence and the loss of an innocent child. The story is masterfully written, told entirely from the perspective of young Zach Taylor. It is his innocent thoughts that we hear, his eyes through which we observe - and yet, we are given the opportunity to see the bigger picture and make the connections that his young mind cannot. There was never a point where I felt that the author was faking the POV of a child; it was just that realistically portrayed! And I really do not think there could have been a better voice from which to tell the story. Zach's innocence and honesty was the perfect vehicle for the reader to witness a tragedy that no parent ever wants to face.  Zach is such a sweet and wonderful protagonist, that it is easy to connect with him and care for his character. Every emotion that Zach felt was one I felt - the anger, the fear, the anxiety, the sadness. Zach tugged at my heart with every turn of the page. I will gladly admit that this book had me ugly-crying at various points because it was just so emotionally touching. This book deserves every star I can give. Do yourself a favour and read this book. It is 100% worth it.

No spoilers. Thank you to First to Read for the advanced copy for an honest review. The first line caught my interest and the rest of the book did not disappoint. Told through the eyes of 6 year old Zach Taylor, it gives a new perspective of such a traumatic and horrific event that has become all too common in present day society, and unfortunately, especially in America. His mother seems to forget about poor Zach and goes her own way to satisfy her own agenda. His father, who has been an absentee father, who has his own secret, tries to help Zach during this traumatic time, until his indiscretions catch up with him. Love the fact this debut novel is shown through the young boy’s eyes, and highly recommend it.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. Only Child is told from the perspective of 6 year old Zach who witnesses a school shooting. His brother Andy was killed in the shooting and you hear the story from Zach’s point of view of how their family coped with the situation. This book made me really think as a parent.

This novel throws the reader in the worst parent nightmare: a school shooting. The story is heart-wrenching not only by the subject but because it is told by one of the survivor aged 6. The innocent voice of the child are really apt at conveying the difficult subject of loss after an shocking event and make this novel an especially good one. I would recommend this powerful novel.

I lost count of the number of times I cried while reading “Only Child.” Heartrendingly told from a six-year-old’s viewpoint and in his voice, this book was unputdownable. I was worried throughout that the story would degenerate into a cliched ending, and I am pleased to say that it avoided that potential pitfall while staying true to a child’s innocent interpretation of events. You’ll know what I mean when you read it.

Rhiannon Navin’s debut novel, Only Child, is a poignant, heartrending and emotional story narrated by a six year old boy who survives a school shooting. First grader Zach Taylor, his teacher Miss Russell and his classmates are among the survivors of a school shooting that takes the lives of nineteen classmates and educators. Zach is a very bright and observant young boy whose parents’ marriage is already a somewhat stressed before the shooting and in the aftermath, they leave him to cope with the tragedy on his own. His questions are heartbreaking as he tries to make sense of what happened especially when he learns the identity of the shooter. Zach is embarrassed when he regresses to what he considers to be “baby” behavior and he takes comfort in the hideout he has created for himself. He is also confused by the changes in his mother but his father is surprisingly understanding of what Zach is experiencing. Finding solace in a set of children’s books, Zach tries to apply the insights he gleans from the stories to restore happiness to his family. Although quite smart, Zach’s worldview is simple and lacking pretense, he is quite honest about his perceptions of the shooting and its impact on his family. His little world is shattered and he cannot understand why his mom’s reaction is so different than his and his father’s. Although he was quite close to mom before this life altering event, he is stunned by how drastically his sweet and caring mom’s behavior becomes in the days, weeks and months following the shooting. Zach loves his dad, but his father’s long commute and work schedule leave little time for them to spend together. However after the tragic incident, his dad’s presence reassuring. Zach’s astute observations, conclusions and decisions are age appropriate. While some of what he sees goes over his head, readers will definitely understand the implications. Quickly picking up on the tension between his parents, he breaks down their behavior into something only he can understand and he is quick to pick up on the subtle nuances of impending trouble. Zach’s parents are so consumed by their own struggles to cope, he is left to navigate the morass of his emotions on his own. His coping mechanisms are heartbreaking yet effective and his explanations are guaranteed to make even the most stoic reader shed a few tears (especially his scenes with his dad in his hideout). As Zach continues to watch his family fall apart, he decides on a course of action to heal the people he loves. Only Child is an absolutely brilliant novel that is unique, deeply affecting and quite thought-provoking. Zach’s narration is incredibly compelling and viewing the world through his young eyes is often quite perceptive. Rhiannon Navin is an immensely gifted storyteller who evokes empathy and deep emotion in this sorrowful yet ultimately uplifting story.

6-year-old Zach Taylor is hiding in the closet with his teacher and other classmates. They cringe in terror as they listen to the sounds of “pop”, “pop”, “pop” in the hallway of their school. A gunman is loose in the school and they have no idea which room he’ll enter next. After the police come, Zach goes to the hospital with his mother, where they learn that Zach’s 10-year-old brother Andy is one of the 19 victims of the shooting. In the days following Andy’s death, Zach’s mother holds the shooter’s parents responsible and goes on a crusade for justice. She becomes someone Zach doesn’t know. He finds refuge in Andy’s closet where Zach reads books to Andy and feels a connection to his lost brother. He tries to sort through his feelings on his own by drawing pictures of his feelings and giving each feeling a color. This is a very sensitive, beautifully written book about a young boy and his family trying to find their way after the tragic loss of a brother and son. I thought the author did a wonderful job in finding the perfect pitch for this young boy’s voice. The character of Zach is very believable and his experiences and reactions are appropriate for his age. The way he struggles to work out his feelings on his own, as his parents deal with their own grief and aren’t always there for him, just broke my heart. His brother, Andy, suffered from oppositional defiant disorder and was often cruel to Zach. Zach wonders if things might be better without Andy but of course then he has much guilt about those feelings. The books that Zach read to his brother Andy in the hopes that Andy might hear him in heaven were the Magic Treehouse series. I’ve read several of those books to my grandson and knew the stories that Zach was reading. That connection made it impossible for me to distance myself from the sadness of this book. It was just as though one of my little grandson’s friends was telling this story and made the book’s heartache even more potent. Out of the mouths of children comes wisdom. Zach’s discovery of compassion and how healing must be done is truly wondrous to read and one that the adults in this book desperately needed. Highly recommended.

Very powerful exploration of a family dealing with the loss of a child in a school shooting, as narrated by a 6-year-old. The story arc was well done, and it was emotionally powerful. It did require quite a bit of suspension of disbelief, regarding both the wisdom of a 6-year-old and the neglect of that child by his family (both his parents and some extended family that are present but not attending to him). So there are some fundamental problems that are glaring when I stepped back from the story, but I undeniably didn't want to take that step back while I was reading it. It's a powerful, cathartic novel about grief and how to heal. The strongest backbone to the story was Zach's (the 6yo) reading of Magic Playhouse books, and the mission the children in those books are on to find the secrets of happiness. Zach tries each of these secrets out, and they provide the answer to healing his family in the end. That was a particularly effective and sweet element of the plot. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

This book was almost impossible to read, but it was incredible. I don’t mean impossible in it’s prose or language, especially because it’s written from the point of view of a 6-year-old. It was almost impossible to get through because, through the eyes of that 1st grade narrator, the reader is witness to a school shooting and the aftermath of wreckage it leaves in a family and community. Following the shooting, he sees his family falling apart: his angry mother pointing the finger of blame, his guilt-ridden father burdened by missteps from before the massacre, and his own mixed up and paralyzing feelings of guilt, terror, sadness, shame, and loneliness that come in the aftermath of such traumatic experiences. Some might not enjoy the first-person narrative of a 6-year-old, or might quibble over whether or not some of the thoughts and words are plausible from such a small child, but I loved the narration and thought it underscored the fact that children observe and are affected by so much more than we might expect. Only Child brought me to tears and I couldn’t put it down. A really impressive and authentic debut novel. But be prepared if you pick up this book—it’s heavy stuff.

Wow. I need to just breathe. This was so heartbreaking and so good. The book starts out with a little boy, Zach, sitting in a closet with his teacher and other kids in his class because a gunman has entered the school and started shooting. This story is told from the perspective of a 6 year old boy, in his voice, which gives it such a sweet quality. I wanted to just pick him up and hold him. It wasn’t as hard to read as I thought it would be, so don’t let that scare you off. A wonderful debut. Thanks to First to Read for the book in exchange for an honest review.

What a way to start out the new year! Only Child was not only the first book I completed in 2018, but it absolutely wrecked me. It’s hard to believe this is Navin’s debut novel. Superbly written, it reads like you are in the head of a seven year old boy, even though as an adult, it’s easy to read between the lines and see the bigger picture. And it made me feel a full range of emotions, from fear and anger to sorrow and joy. I teared up at several points along the way and full on cried for the last twenty or so pages. You really don’t need to know much more before going into Only Child; the blurb says it all. Let me just sum it up by saying it is poignant, heartbreaking, and powerful. HIGHLY recommended.

This novel is immensely readable, especially given how difficult the subject matter is. The comparisons to Jodi Picoult (especially her earlier novels) seems apt; it has well-defined characters who you can't help but develop strong feelings about. I have a feeling this will be on all the summer book lists in 2018!

I think that were was a certain amount of novelty to having this written in the view of a first grader. They have no filter and are honest to a fault. I would have really preferred for this story to radiate from person to person. I found the young child's wording and viewpoint to wear at me after a rather short time. I think the book ultimately got the point across, but it seemed that the ending was rushed to me.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a great debut novel and it had me enthralled from the very first page. I would highly recommend it to anyone dealing with the grief that occurs after tragedy. Just be sure to keep a box of tissues handy because you’re going to need them! The story is told from a child’s perspective but I found that this only enhanced the adult experiences of loss. A well-written fast read that keeps your interest throughout. Nice character development and a story everyone can all relate to in some form given the present issues in society.

Rhiannon Navin's Only Child really captivated me and I fell in love with Zach. His dialogue was heartbreaking, following him on his journey after his brother's death was at times excruciating, yet always beautiful. I was so angry with the adults in this story. In my heart, I couldn't believe that at least one person in the family didn't see that Zach had needs also. I can say that I almost loved the book, but I was held back because I couldn't believe that a six-year-old could do some of the things that Zach did. I've known six-year-old boys and it just seemed unbelievable. That said, it's still a wonderful story.

I received a copy of this book thanks to Penguin'sfirst to read program. I found this book to be a heart-wrenching story of loss, love, and forgiveness. The story, told in a first grader's point of view, shows how things are easier to cope with through a child's point of view. The brutally honest feelings of a child are sometimes all we need.

This book tells one of the most difficult stories imaginable with meaningful depth and insight. In telling the story from the point of view of the victim's little brother, we feel aspects of loss and pain and cascading devastation and loneliness that would likely be missed otherwise. While this is, sadly, a story we have heard many times, the author demonstrates the incredible and reverberating destruction brought by the hands of a gunman in a mass shooting. This is a very thoughtful, emotional and thought provoking journey through a nightmare of tremendous loss. Thank you to First to Read for allowing me to read an advance copy.

A community is rocked to the core when a gunman opens fire at an elementary school. First-grader Zach Taylor survives the mass shooting by hiding in a closet with his teacher and classmates. While the town and his family grieve over the senseless deaths, Zach attempts to understand what happened and why the people closest to him are behaving so differently than before. Told from the perspective of a child, this story shows how sometimes children can teach us adults a thing or two. What a powerful and emotional book! This is the type of book to read when you are looking for an emotional reading experience. I thought the author did a fine job showing all of the different reactions people have when a tragedy strikes. Zach was an incredible little boy and you couldn't help but want to reach out and give him a hug. There were a few instances where he seemed a little wise beyond his years but it did help give the story more depth. I think the comparisons to the book Room are pretty spot on because both books are told from child's perspective as they witness horrifying events but because they are so young they aren't able to fully grasp what occurred. I highly recommend reading this book if you are ready to tackle a book that will tug at your heartstrings. Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

Thanks to First to Read for the ARC of “Only Child “ by Rihannon Navin. The novel is well written and told from the perspective of a young child who was involved in a school shooting. The first few chapters are so chilling that it is hard to read fast enough to find out how the shooting incident resolves. The scope of the book includes perspectives and behaviors of the narrator, his family, the extended family as well as teachers, school workers and gunman. The book offers a clear view of family life and grief. Most of the time, the narration is very authentic but there are times when this young narrator is a bit too much and sounds as if he can open up his own psychiatric practice. I lost interest in those moments but they do not occur too often. Word of warning...Be in the right frame of mind to read and have tissues handy.

"And now he wasn't alive anymore, but when he was alive, everyone only noticed the made feelings and not the sad feelings." I received a copy of this ebook from in exchange for an honest review. This is a book that punches you in the gut. Told from the perspective of a young child who experiences a school shooting and loses his older brother in the process we see the grief and pain that comes out of the experience for everyone involved. Because we get everything from Zach's naive perspective it's all the more painful to see his mother descend into her grief and the family of the shooter experience their grief. I did feel like Zach was a little too precocious at times and a lot of the dialogue ended with "Ok?" which I suppose captures a sort of East coast dialect but got annoying fast. It was also a little predictible given the content of the book it seemed pretty obvious where things were heading most of the time. It's a difficult book to get through and it covers a gambit of issues from grief to justice and when is the right time and how does someone ever recover from such a horrific experience. I wish it would have delved more into the concept of mental illness and gun ownership and holding people responsible but given that the book is the point of view of a kid it makes sense it's not explored - I just wish the book would have gone there. It's a pretty painful read from start to finish covering some important ideas on living life after loss.

This novel "Only Child" used to be something you would read about it and now it's our reality. I agree with all the reviews raving about this book. Fantastic read.

This debut novel was both heart wrenching and well written. The story just flowed and I couldn’t put it down.

When there is a mass shooting, especially one involving young children we are appalled and horrified and incredibly sad for the young victims. We think of the parents and their indescribable loss. But I wonder how often we think of the siblings of the victims who are also victims in their own way. Only Child explores the depths of feelings and emotions of a young boy whose brother is killed in such a shooting. He watches as his family falls apart and he is left to figure out on his own how to deal with the loss. Ms. Navin is able to truly capture what and how a 6 year old thinks. It's wonderfully written and thought out, emmensely sad but in the end also emmensely healing.

A gunman terrorizes Zach Taylor's elementary school, leaving 19 dead and forever changing a community, while Zach tries to make sense of what happened and figure out how to get his life back to normal. Only Child is a heavy, heart wrenching, emotional story told from a 6 year old's point of view. It is an interesting perspective to take to relay such a delicate story. Having a child narrator provides a very honest, very emotional view to this tragedy. You definitely feel for Zach, who is almost lost and forgotten because his parents are too wrapped up in themselves. We are promised a journey towards healing and forgiveness, but we have to wait until almost the end to see it. Then the ending becomes a bit too neat and predictable, but it is still a well written book. This may not be something that is immediately on your To Be Read list, but it should be. Rhiannon Navin handles a tragic situation with a skilled and unique hand. You won't be disappointed.

This is a very good debut novel. Unfortunately, stories like these are becoming increasingly more common in real life and whole families' lives are changing. Writing this book from the perspective of a young child was an excellent idea. I really thought the author did a nice job portraying the observations and confusing feelings that a young child might have in that kind of situation. Thank you for this copy!

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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