Published by Mantle
Ebook and Paperback (8 February 2018) | Hardback (8 March 2018)
Source: ARC (Review copy)
Welcome to my turn on the publisher blog tour for Only Child. My thanks to Jess Duffy and the publisher for the invitation to take part and for providing the paperback copy for review.
| About the Book |
Rhiannon Navin’s Only Child is the most powerful book you’ll read this year . . .
We went to school that Tuesday like normal.
Not all of us came home . . .
Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing.
Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can.
| My Thoughts |
POP. POP. POP.
I had almost finished reading Only Child when the news broke of yet another senseless and horrific school shooting in the US. Reading a story about a school shooting whilst one was taking place in real life added an extra sadness and poignancy.
The story begins with 6 year old Zach Taylor hiding in a cupboard along with his teacher and classmates during a school lockdown. There is a gunman walking the corridors, shooting children and teachers. In describing the fear and terror that Zach feels in heartrenching detail, the reader is left in no doubt of the trauma that will ensue.
As the reader soon discovers, Zach survived the shooting but his 10 year old brother Andy was not so fortunate. He was one of the 19 victims and the story focuses on his parent’s and Zach’s trauma in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Only Child is told through Zach’s voice and it is fair to say he stole a piece of my heart. His young brain was trying to process events without really knowing how to. From his initial feelings of relief that Andy wasn’t there to be to mean to him anymore and then to the realisation that his brother was never coming back – Zach felt the full gauntlet of emotions.
His parents were so focused on their own grief that Zach all but got left behind. They weren’t being deliberately unkind, but each was broken. They were trying, and failing, to find a way to cope. For Zach’s mother this meant from initially being in a numb and drugged state to ultimately seeking retribution and public condemnation on the shooter’s family. His father tried to support both his wife and Zach but eventually found solace in his work and began to spend more time away from the family. There were times when I actively disliked the mother for her apparent disregard of her young son’s feelings; I wanted to shake her and tell her “you still have a son that needs you”.
Only Child is a stunning and powerful debut that my review can’t possibly do justice to. A family, and community, torn to shreds at the hands of another. Family relationships are put under severe strain when trying to come to terms with losing a child in this way.
In my opinion, the author perfectly articulated Zach’s emotions and his distress and bewilderment at events. For all his simplistic way of describing things, he seemed wise beyond his years and actually put some of the adults to shame with their behaviour.
Only Child is an emotional and often heartbreaking read but because of Zach it is also an uplifting one too. I thought it was wonderful and it deserves to be a massive success for the author.
If you are interested in finding out more behind the inspiration for the story, there is a very interesting Q&A on the author’s website.
| Author Bio |
Rhiannon Navin grew up in Germany before a career in advertising took her to America. Now a full-time mother and writer, she lives in New York with her husband, three children and two cats.
Only Child is her first novel and with this story Rhiannon hopes to help bring about change and contribute to the important conversation about US gun control in a meaningful way.