Only Child is Rhiannon Navin’s debut novel and it is EVERYTHING (goals to have a debut novel reach this level of perfection and emotion). This book is created with such power and emotion – and it’s completely written from the perspective and voice of a FIRST GRADER. Yep, bet you haven’t read anything like this before.
On trend with the unfortunate reoccurrence of mass school shootings, Zach Taylor is hiding in the closet along with his teacher and classmates as they stay locked away from the gunman who has charged the hallways of their school setting off one gunshot after another. Zach and his classmates make it out safe and well, but unfortunately that is not the case for all.
Only Child sends such an important message to adults, brought to you by Zach (a first grader in case you need another reminder). During a time in our world where hate, blame and “serving justice” is so prevalent, Zach teaches us that maybe it’s quite the opposite that needs to happen. I’m ALL for seeking justice when justice is deserved, but this book opened my eyes to another side of things; the side that falls silent under the power and heaviness of hurtful words and policies.
When something unfortunate like a school shooting occurs, we are all quick to place blame and demand answers. Of course we all want to know why it happened and how we can prevent it. But we fail to stop and ponder the feelings and emotions that come hand in hand with such events. Granted, I have never myself experienced a school shooting but I have read plenty on each case to form an intelligent assumption on the feelings of the victim’s families.
Zach’s mom is on a mission to pursue the gunman’s family for inadequate care and attention to his mental health needs and for failing to provide him with the proper treatment – they were family friends of his mom. She takes media interviews, appears on the news, makes rash statements, and is on a one-way path to destroy this family. Zach is embarrassed for his mom and cannot understand why she feels so angry towards the family of the gunman whom she’s known for years. Zach teaches his mom, and all of his readers, that sometimes we need to show more kindness, more sympathy, more tenderness to people who are suffering; in this case, the victim’s families AND the family of the gunman who was shot and killed.
I enjoyed the writing style of this book and was amazed that Navin was able to vividly describe the thought process of a first grader so accurately and with such precision. Only Child is a reminder of the pure innocence children possess and how adults can learn a great deal about life from the little ones that inhabit this world. I loved this book and think you will too!