Review: Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin

Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin
Published by Knopf Publishing Group on February 6, 2018 (expected)
Series: n/a
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary
Format & Pages: e-book, 304
Find on Goodreads
Purchase at AmazonBarnes & Noble, Book Depository

For readers of Room and The Girls, a dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children, narrated by a seven-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.


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.

“I never knew you could feel more than one feeling inside of you at the same time.
Especially feelings that are opposites. I know you can feel excited, but when you do what made you excited, the excited feeling goes away and you feel happy because it was fun. Or sad because it’s over already, like right after everyone leaves from your birthday party. But more than one feeling all at the same time, right next to each other or on top of each other and all mixed up inside you? I never knew that could happen.”

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.

*Many thanks to Penguin Random House’s First to Read program for providing an arc of this edition in exchange for an honest review.

**Quote taken from an advance readers copy and may vary slightly from the final edition.

5-b&w

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8 thoughts on “Review: Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin

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