Only Child by Rhiannon Navin - Book Review

Monday, June 18, 2018

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. (Goodreads)

I do not believe I have read a book that was more heartbreaking than Only Child. I found myself with tears in my eyes the majority of the time I was reading it. The reactions are all very human and believable and the mindset of the six-year-old Zach is exactly what I would expect. While his father takes the more silent suffering approach and his mother deals with her grief by focusing all of her anger on the family of the shooter, Zach (who is also dealing with PTSD from surviving the tragedy) deals with grief by listing and separating his feelings so they are no longer "all mixed up". His approach is ultimately the most mature solution and I loved how well the author portrayed this (and how it eventually helps his parents as well). What I appreciated the most about this book though, was how it dealt with the shooter and his family. I have read many other books with this same sort of story (from different point of views) and I am pretty sure this is the first that encouraged sympathy to all in involved. Even better, this is encouraged by a child and helps his family come back together.

Rating: 4.5/5
Buy: Amazon, Abebooks

Book image and summary via Goodreads.

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