Review: Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

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Release date: October 4, 2018

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


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.


Some of you may remember me raving about this book earlier this year and in honor of paperback publication day I’m resharing my review! It still remains one of the best books I’ve read all year.

The whole story is told through the eyes of Zach, a seven year old little guy and it begins on the day a gunman opens fire at his elementary school. I have three small kids, 9, 6 and 3 and my two oldest have participated in multiple lockdown drills. I remember when my oldest daughter came home from kindergarten talking about what to do if “a bad guy comes to my school mommy, we have to hide in the bathroom and stay super quiet.” That chilled me to my core but unfortunately that’s the world we live in. The world I’m raising my gorgeous kids in. It’s terrifying. I was a senior in high school back in 1999 when Columbine happened and I remember how scared and confused I was, how I couldn’t comprehend such a tragic event. All of that to say, I knew this would be a difficult book to read, I knew I would be emotional but I also knew it would be important and I’m extremely glad that I did read this because the author handled everything with grace and compassion.

Zach, what a special little boy he is, he has a piece of my heart. Seeing the entire story through a child’s eyes really brought a simplicity to things, kids are so pure and innocent. Children can often be pushed to the side when adults are dealing with grown up problems and that is what broke my heart the most. I wanted to scoop this little man up and take all of his worries away, that’s how realistic he seemed and his voice? Unbelievably accurate, I felt like I was listening to my daughter talk to me.

I could honestly discuss this book for hours, but I’ll finish up and say that I really feel like this is a vital read for everyone. It’s ripped from the current headlines, and it’s every single parents worst fear. Navin did an amazing job at handling the issues in a sensitive and realistic way, this is truly a special book.

Only Child in three words: Compelling, Moving and Timely.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

8 thoughts on “Review: Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

  1. brmaycock says:

    That is crazy about Columbine-we saw the footage over here and it seemed so horrific but in another awful way it was so far removed for us. Fair dues to you for reading this and excellent review-definitely have to read! x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. indiefan20 says:

    This sounds like a really emotional read! I’ve been meaning to read “Only Child” for ages, but I’ve never actually gotten to it. Your review makes me want to pick up this book pronto. What particularly stands out from the review is that you found the child narrator’s voice to be extremely believable, that’s one thing that’s really hard for writers to do well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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