BookBrowse Reviews Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

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Only Child

by Rhiannon Navin

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin X
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2019, 304 pages

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A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the wisdom of children.

Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, Only Child received an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 from BookBrowse members, one of the highest ever ratings for a First Impressions book.

What it's about:
The author takes us on a journey most are afraid to contemplate (Maureen R). Only Child is a powerful story of forgiveness and healing told through the dramatic experience of six-year old Zach Taylor. Set against the backdrop of a school shooting, the story reveals the tragedy of the loss of a child through inexplicable violence and the related impacts on marriage, family and community (Peggy C).

Most were impressed by how realistically the book's young narrator was voiced:
The concept of writing this book through the eyes of a 6 year old was brilliant. I felt the author truly captured a child's view of the events - his fears, guilt and loss. It was a good reminder to us that a child can see clearly right from wrong and the importance of love over hate; they don't get caught up in the outside opinions that can influence adults (Terrie J).  Zach's innocent but wise perspective brought me to tears, to laughter and to a host of other emotions in between. I found myself pulling for him to show those much older and presumably wiser how to go on after such a loss (Carol S).  His innocence proves to be both a safeguard and guiding light; and because he is able to find his way through the complexities of this tragedy, so are we. From first page to last, Zack is our champion, and we are his (Maureen R).

Reviewers commented on the challenging nature of the story:
It was sometimes hard to read because of the subject matter. Keep the tissue box handy (Doris K). While the topic of school shootings isn't a pleasant one, Rhiannon Navin does an amazing job with this difficult subject (DeAnn A). 

Nevertheless, they found it to be a compelling story:
It is a sad but thought-provoking read that I found hard to put down (Peggy C).  I read it in two afternoons (Anna R); it was riveting and enlightening. (Maureen R).  I thought the story was well-executed and suspenseful but still "literary fiction" (Rebecca K). I will remember this story for a long time (Anna R).

A few reviewers voiced minor criticism of the characters:
I had a difficult time empathizing with Zach's mom Melissa, who is one of the main characters. I understand that every person deals with grief differently, but I could not agree with some of her decisions and even thought some of the choices she made were cruel to others (Rebecca K).  I would have given it a 5 except that I found Zach painted a bit too mature for his age (Harriette K).

Highly recommended:
The fact that this is a debut novel blows me away! (Jill F). I have already recommended it to others (Terry J)  Book clubs will have hours of discussion topics (Liz B).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2018, and has been updated for the February 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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