Only Child

Only Child

“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 close...

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Title:Only Child
Author:Rhiannon Navin
Rating:

Only Child Reviews

  • Pauline

    This is a heartbreaking tale about the aftermath of a school shooting. Zak Taylor is six years old when a gunman comes into his school and kills nineteen people. Zak and his classmates have survived because their teacher locks the classroom door and they all hide in a cupboard out of sight. Later they find out that Zak's ten year old brother is one of the victims. This story is told from six year old Zak's point of view. Emotions run high in this book as the families try to come to terms with th

    This is a heartbreaking tale about the aftermath of a school shooting. Zak Taylor is six years old when a gunman comes into his school and kills nineteen people. Zak and his classmates have survived because their teacher locks the classroom door and they all hide in a cupboard out of sight. Later they find out that Zak's ten year old brother is one of the victims. This story is told from six year old Zak's point of view. Emotions run high in this book as the families try to come to terms with their loss. I loved this book despite the subject matter, it was very emotional and well written. This story will stay with me for a long time. I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and I would like to thank the author and the publisher for my copy.

  • Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)

    I started this book and finished it within 3 hours and I couldn't stop reading it! It was so much more than what I was expecting and for being a debut novel this was incredible. I read this for my book club and I'm so glad we chose to read it.

    The opening scene in this book will

    Imagine: An elementary school and kids are shuffled into

    I started this book and finished it within 3 hours and I couldn't stop reading it! It was so much more than what I was expecting and for being a debut novel this was incredible. I read this for my book club and I'm so glad we chose to read it.

    The opening scene in this book will

    Imagine: An elementary school and kids are shuffled into a closet. The teacher has to lock the door and tell them to continually quiet down. All the kids can hear are "Pop. Pop. Pop." Some scream, some get sick and some are in total shock about what's happening. They've done lockdown drills before but nothing quite compares to having to do the real thing.

    A knock on the door and it's the police, they usher the kids out and into a safe place - the church. Zach, the 6 year old that this book is narrated by, is trying to take it all in as he passes people on the floor. Dead. Covered in Blood. He just wants his Mom & Dad. Eventually his mom gets through to the church and gets him. His Dad shows up and they start to look for Zach's brother, Andy.

    The story goes on to take us through the grieving process of a school shooting, how to deal with the shooters family and how mental illness can effect even the smallest in our community - our children. We watch Melissa, Zach's mom, turn into someone completely different, we watch the family start to tear apart and we watch Zach start to blame himself and take on the burden of trying to fix everything that's gone wrong. He reads and comes across four secrets to happiness and he tries to use them to heal everyone.

    What a miraculous child.

    There's so much more to this story than what I just wrote but I can't because I don't want to spoil anything. I cried no less than 5 times while reading this book. As a disclaimer:

    but this devastated me and I can only imagine if you have kids this book would effect you in an even deeper way. I could literally feel the emotion coming off the page through each and every character. Clearly, this is an emotional book so brace yourself before you read it.

    This book is told in the narrative voice of Zach, the six year old boy, and how he views all of the decisions and conversations that his family and people around him are going through. I think sometimes we forget how smart children are and how their perspective of things can sometimes be the best. They can help us heal and they tend to see the best in situations. Does Zach go through some serious emotions? Of course. He just lost his brother and his parents are fighting. However, he is still able to see perspective when it comes to the situation and tries to bring everyone together to "make it good again."

    If or when I ever have kids I hope to God that I have a kid like Zach. He is the kind of kid you want to raise and the kind of kid you would want when a tragedy occurs in your life.

    As I was reading this I also kept thinking about the kids at Sandy Hook and their families. I can't imagine what that day was like and I now have a

    bit of insight and emotional empathy towards the parents who had to go through this devastation. Unfortunately, this book is so relevant in our society today and I hope that people read it and take action. There are things we can do and we need to keep fighting.

    Which brings me to my last topic that was important in this novel: Mental Health. Again, most of the school shootings happening in today's day in age are done by individuals who are getting guns in their hands who may not be mentally fit to have them. We need to keep talking about this and continue to protect our children. Remember:

    So in remembrance of those beautiful Sandy Hook soles we lost, I will continue to keep talking about this and fighting to keep our schools, children, etc. safe.

    Everyone should pick up this novel. I think it's powerful, amazing, fantastic, beautiful, emotional, relatable and strong. Hats off to the author for her debut novel. I will be a fan for life.

  • Elyse

    Audiobook....read by a very talented child with a growing resume by the name of Kivlighan de Montebello.

    Kivlighan has appeared in 11 films, 1 theater production, 2 television shows, and 5 voice overs. I was so impressed by the presence of this child’s voice - ( honestly one of the very best VOICE OVERS I’ve listened to in my entire history of audio-listening.

    I HAD TO LOOK THIS KID UP. WHO WAS HE? Pretty amazing - that’s for sure!!!

    His talent ( for what his job was to do) impressed me - - differe

    Audiobook....read by a very talented child with a growing resume by the name of Kivlighan de Montebello.

    Kivlighan has appeared in 11 films, 1 theater production, 2 television shows, and 5 voice overs. I was so impressed by the presence of this child’s voice - ( honestly one of the very best VOICE OVERS I’ve listened to in my entire history of audio-listening.

    I HAD TO LOOK THIS KID UP. WHO WAS HE? Pretty amazing - that’s for sure!!!

    His talent ( for what his job was to do) impressed me - - different- but - WOW- like Sherman Alexis did with his memoir “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”.

    This child -Kivlighan-is a PRO voice narrator!!!!

    Granted .....I’ll admit - there were definitely times that I felt this 6 year child was speaking much more precocious than any six-year-old child I knew.

    When I first started listening to this - Paul and I were both piddling around in the yard.

    It was dangerous listening to “Only Child” with Paul. My husband was a bad boy influence!

    He started laughing. Then I started laughing. This ‘child’ said things that were funny but also things that we both felt no kid would ever say….NOT THE WAY HE SAID THEM.....but.....he was so darn adorable—I didn’t care.

    I wasn’t far enough into the book yet...to ever believe I’d find him having me cry real tears a HALF DOZEN TIMES....

    I just LOVED HIS VOICE. Plus .....as the story continued ( by now Paul was long gone)- this story became more and more REAL.

    NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO SAY:

    IT IS DEEPLY SAD - DEVASTATING- of what happened in Parkland, Florida yesterday. A senseless violent mass shootings— sooo horrific - I can’t even wrap my mind around what the families are going through. Yet ...I am so so sorry for the suffering the families are going through.

    I can’t believe I was actually listening to ‘this’ story when Paul walked in the door and said ... “have you heard the news in Florida?” I hadn’t ..

    Fiction/ non fiction..

    What to make of all this?

    Six year old Zack is one incredible phenomenal character. Memorable!!!

    The start of this book begins with the horrific shooting at McKinley elementary. The writing has our full attention instantly....

    LIFE CHANGED INSTANTLY.....

    And.....

    Zack’s older brother, Andy, was killed....

    The rest of this book - the next 85 percent of the storytelling - takes us inside the Taylor family. We meet Jim, Melissa, ( Zack’s parents), extended family members, the gun man’s family, neighbors, and others in the community. The largest focus is on what’s happening in the Taylor family from Zack’s perspective.

    DURING THE LATE HOURS FROM ZACK’S BED:

    “Pop pop pop..... screaming sounds were coming out of my mouth but then I heard daddy’s voice, “Zack, it’s ok”..... but I still made screaming sounds and I couldn’t help it because the gun man was back again. How did he get in our house....and now he’s going to shoot us and we will be dead like Andy”.

    The nightmares began ‘instantly’, too, as soon as the Zack was back home.

    When Zack’s grandmother, Mimi, went grocery shopping, and brought bananas back to the house along with other items… Zack was furious inside. He knew that the only person in the family that like bananas was Andy. Zack got so mad inside that he threw those bananas away.

    This was just one example of how his ‘acting out’ was seen as a bother.

    Zack became an annoyance. He was in the way of the ‘adults’ being busy grieving.

    His mother was under extreme stress — for weeks - months - everything was “not now Zack”. Her ‘acting out’ hurt everyone around her - besides herself.

    When my own father died - I was 4 years old - I remember those months of neglect.. “stay away from mom”. “Mom is too sad to have time for me”.

    Months of neglect turned into years.

    It was pretty painful for me reading how often Zack was left alone. It was obvious to see that his mommy thought it was easier if he was just out of the way. I didn’t have those words ( the obvious ) when I was 4 years old. But it ‘was’ the painful truth. I wasn’t included in daddy’s loss. What does a 4 or 6 year old know? LISTEN TO ZACK......HE KNOWS MORE THAN THE ADULTS IN HIS HOUSE!!!

    I remember wanting to speak to my mother one day about missing my daddy. She said... “well his death was a hell of a lot harder on me than it was on you”. I believed her. Now I know she was wrong. Loss is not a competition.

    For awhile Zack noticed that his mom he was busy cleaning invisible messes. His Daddy stayed in his office in the house all the time.

    Zack created a hide-a-way spot for himself in his brothers room inside the closet. It became his secret hiding place where he like to read books to his brother and talk to him. The books he was reading from used to be his brothers ...they were adventure stories -He had all 53 books to the Magic Treehouse books. These books turn out to be wonderful wise inspirations about healing — but I’m jumping ahead of myself.

    Zack’s parents were dealing with their grief differently and separately - each dealing with the loss of their son in their own way. NOT Effectively!

    Zack was left to figure out how to grieve alone too. His books were giving him great supportive ideas. They stimulated his own creative imagination and gave him strength. I was moved!

    However .....when a house is on fire - ( not literally) - people IN THE HOUSE IN MAJOR CHAOS —it’s not easy for ANY book to inspire miracles.

    Soon fighting between Zack’s parents elevated like RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS!

    My God .....it got so darn ugly - (frightening to me) - so you might be able to image what parents screaming at each other are doing to a 6 year child.

    There was a scene at the funeral that I related with. Zack and I shared an embarrassing- shameful feeling.

    Zack was 6.

    I was 4.

    Zack had an ‘accident’ in his pants. I did too.

    As children - we were all dressed up and we were supposed to be big boys and girls - mommy was going to have a very hard day. Well, pooping in your pants at the family funeral- when already petrified to even LOOK INSIDE THE BOX- and pooping in your pants is a hard day for a child too.

    The author did excellent job

    getting across the damage that is done by parents to children —even if justifiably so- when they are neglected.

    AND........how parents fighting hurts kids -

    AND that loss is deeply felt by kids too. ..

    Zack painted a ‘feelings’ painting with colors to express how he was feeling

    Red - was for embarrassing

    Black - was for scared

    Gray/green - was for mad and angry

    Yellow was for happy

    An invisible hole what’s for loneliness.

    White was for sympathy.. (he came up with sympathy with his dad).

    Zack was a very special child. His family experience an unbearable loss. His parents had other problems bursting at the seams ‘before’ the tragic school rampage where 19 families at Zack’s school directly were affected.

    The reality is .....the families suffering from the events in Florida yesterday - were also dealing with challenges ‘before’ too.

    Author Rhiannon Navin opens our eyes to see things we have not thought about -

    Yes —- this book makes you cry —-but it does other things too.

    As uncomfortable as it was to witness the parents fighting —AGAIN AMAZING VOCAL NARRATOR—it was valuable to witness it from a CHILD’S Ears.

    Maybe it’s a cop out when adults say, “Oh, children are resilient”.

    Perhaps, but are we sure? Do adults justify children’s resiliency for their own benefits?

    I loved this book - I loved Zack’s dad. I loved Zack’s teacher.

    AND.....I especially loved ZACK TAYLOR!!!

  • Paromjit

    This is heartbreaking material, so timely and so relevant given the continuing horrors of school shootings. An amazing read that will stay in my mind for a long time to come. There are many reviews on this book, but I would like to recommend my good friend Elyse's review which had me bypass so many other books that I pushed this one up the pile.

    Cannot recommend this highly enough!

  • Deanna

    My reviews can also be seen at:

    The book opens with six-year-old Zach, his teacher, and his classmates hiding in a closet. A gunman has entered the school and they can hear shots being fired. It was extremely intense; I could feel the anxiety of the characters. Zach tells us how they had just come in from recess and they were about to start math lesso

    My reviews can also be seen at:

    The book opens with six-year-old Zach, his teacher, and his classmates hiding in a closet. A gunman has entered the school and they can hear shots being fired. It was extremely intense; I could feel the anxiety of the characters. Zach tells us how they had just come in from recess and they were about to start math lessons when the noisy pop sounds started. And then Zach heard them yelling “lockdown, lockdown, lockdown! “ They had practice lockdown drills before and Zach thought it had been fun.

    But Zach knows this isn’t a practice drill. In the closet, he remains as still as he can. Even though the closet is small and stuffy. He can still hear the pop noises and screams coming from outside the closet.

    Then it’s over. But in the chaos of the aftermath, so much is happening. Normal rules don’t apply. Zach is still scared. In the days that follow, for Zach, everything looks the same but nothing feels the same. While the adults around him try to cope, he finds his own way of coping. He has a “

    ”, a place he can read and lock up negative thoughts in his “

    ”. But he still has nightmares where he hears the “

    ” over and over.

    Zack sees and hears so much of what is going on around him. The adults are all trying to cope in their own ways, ways that Zach doesn’t understand. The adults don’t see that Zach is there listening to everything they say and do.

    I couldn’t help but fall in love with Zach. He was a wonderful narrator. His feelings were so honest and at times he seemed older than his years. In many ways, this child had better coping skills than the adults around him. And amidst all of the confusion and uncertainty, this six-year-old boy helps starts the long process of healing.

    In my opinion, this was a well-written novel with many excellent characters. Though I’ve read other books about school shootings, this is the first I’ve read that is told from the perspective of a young child. I think it made it even more emotional. It’s incredibly sad how timely this novel is.

    An insightful and honest read about life, death, loss, anger, guilt, forgiveness, and hope.

    was an incredibly powerful read that will likely stay with me for a very long time. I’m certainly looking forward to reading more from Rhiannon Navin.

    I'd like to thank Mantle Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    Review of the audio! 🎧

    Only Child was released eight days before the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this one, but it came highly recommended by my friend, Elyse, especially the audio version, which is narrated by a child, a child prodigy, really, speaking in first person.

    Zach becomes an “only child” when his sibling, his brother Andy, was killed during a school shooting. Zach’s-eye view is portr

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    Review of the audio! 🎧

    Only Child was released eight days before the school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this one, but it came highly recommended by my friend, Elyse, especially the audio version, which is narrated by a child, a child prodigy, really, speaking in first person.

    Zach becomes an “only child” when his sibling, his brother Andy, was killed during a school shooting. Zach’s-eye view is portrayed as he relays conversations between his parents, the shifting dynamics of his family, the interactions with the shooter’s family, and so on all from Zach’s perspective. I thought this was a risky choice because Zach is only 6 years old, and there were perceptions and things he said that weren’t quite developmentally appropriate for even the most precocious six-year-old. Also, I think I’ve gotten more used to multiple narrator stories, and I only heard from Zach. Those things said, the risks are worth it because I think profound messages are conveyed by hearing this young voice describe how his family was affected by the tragedy of a school shooting and the loss of a sibling.

    Another interesting choice the author made was having Adam be “troubled,” not that unlike the shooter. I enjoyed how she explored this dynamic within Zach and Adam’s family members, and likewise, in their interactions with the shooter’s family.

    In my opinion, Only Child is not a sad book. It’s hopeful for there is hope in healing. It’s not a tragic book, rather it’s an important book because we have to keep the dialogue open in order to keep our children and communities safe.

  • Lisa

    A remarkable debut novel ripped from the much to common school shooting headlines but brilliantly told through a different perspective.

    SUMMARY

    In ONLY CHILD six-year-old Zack Taylor tells us a story. It’s the story of how he survives a deadly shooting at his school by hiding in his classroom closet with his teacher. But one of the 19 casualties was his 10-year-old brother, Andy. Zach’s mother is utterly shocked and devastated. She is on a desperate quest for justice against the shooter’s parents

    A remarkable debut novel ripped from the much to common school shooting headlines but brilliantly told through a different perspective.

    SUMMARY

    In ONLY CHILD six-year-old Zack Taylor tells us a story. It’s the story of how he survives a deadly shooting at his school by hiding in his classroom closet with his teacher. But one of the 19 casualties was his 10-year-old brother, Andy. Zach’s mother is utterly shocked and devastated. She is on a desperate quest for justice against the shooter’s parents and has no time for Zach. Zach tells us about how he felt invisible. And how he made a secret hideout and surrounded himself with a picture of his brother, his favorite books and some special drawings he made of his feelings. He is on his own to figure out how to cope. So he starts reading his Magic Tree House books and thinks he has found an answer. Armed with the hope and willfulness of a child, Zach attempts to help his parents find love and forgiveness again.

    REVIEW

    I finished this heartbreaking book yesterday morning; but by yesterday afternoon the subject of this book became our reality, once again. Another school shooting in another city. This one in Parkland, Florida at a high school where 17 children were murdered, and shattered families are left in tatters. When will it end?

    ONLY CHILD left me in tears. It’s heartbreaking because it is so real and so senseless. But it’s also a beautiful story of a child’s resilience and a child’s desire to make things right. With Zack as the narrator, you will be instantly engrossed by his telling of the pops he heard while hiding in the closest. You will marvel at the way he described his feelings with colors, and you will quickly fall in love with this six-year-old’s huge heart.

    RHIANNON NAVIN’s debut novel is stellar. The characters are as real as a book can get and the writing is impeccable. While the subject matter may be difficult to read, it’s fascinating and perhaps even valuable to understand it from the mind of a child, who is also a survivor and a sibling of one that is lost forever. I listened to the Audible version of this book, which made it all the more real. The narrator, Kivlighan de Montebello was endearing.

  • Tucker

    I finished this book about the effects on one family in the aftermath of a school shooting just days before the horrific school shooting in Florida. What a powerful and remarkable novel! The author’s decision to write from the point of view of a first grader who survived provides a brilliant and welcome perspective; one I’ve not seen in other “school shooting” fiction. I’ll step onto my soapbox now and say that instead of once again just offering “thoughts and prayers,” every politician should r

    I finished this book about the effects on one family in the aftermath of a school shooting just days before the horrific school shooting in Florida. What a powerful and remarkable novel! The author’s decision to write from the point of view of a first grader who survived provides a brilliant and welcome perspective; one I’ve not seen in other “school shooting” fiction. I’ll step onto my soapbox now and say that instead of once again just offering “thoughts and prayers,” every politician should read this book and enact meaningful gun reform laws NOW! And for readers, while the book can be disturbing to read, it is one not to be missed.

  • Diane S ☔

    Once again fiction takes us into reality, a reality that I wish wasn't true. A school shooting, taken out of our recent headlines, a six year old boy named Zach survives, his ten year old brother does not. Our narrator is Zach, his voice as he takes us into not only his feelings but those of his parents. Heartbreaking for sure.

    Am somewhat of an outlier with my rating. Seems like because of the subject, the young narrator that this book should garner a higher rating but..I had trouble believing

    Once again fiction takes us into reality, a reality that I wish wasn't true. A school shooting, taken out of our recent headlines, a six year old boy named Zach survives, his ten year old brother does not. Our narrator is Zach, his voice as he takes us into not only his feelings but those of his parents. Heartbreaking for sure.

    Am somewhat of an outlier with my rating. Seems like because of the subject, the young narrator that this book should garner a higher rating but..I had trouble believing a six year old could reason his way through do much that Zach does, from finding a way to express his feelings in colors, to uniting people who are so emotionally injured. I have five boys, none like this at six, just couldn't go there. Plus, though having the narrator do young does bring an emotional quotient to this read, that an older child or adult wouldn't, an innocence that is appealing, it also made it repetitive at times, and just over done at others. How long can one be in the mind of a child? The message of the book is a good one, reminding us that those left behind also need care, but I just didn't like it as much as I thought I would. It is being compared to the novel Room, on the basis of the child narrator, but I wasn't a fan of that book either.

    Many readers have embraced this book fully. I wish I could, as I said it does impart a perfect message, but in an imperfect, in my view, way.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

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