Reading guide for Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

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 5, 2019, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. In the opening lockdown scene, Zach repeatedly focuses on external sensations—the smell of Miss Russell's breath, the stuffiness in the closet, the popping sounds coming from the hallway. What does this tell us about how Zach perceives the world? What insight does it give us into who he is as a child, and as a narrator?
  2. After overcoming her shock, Zach's mom campaigns against the parents of the shooter in an attempt to hold them accountable for their son's actions. Do you agree with her, or do you think she is out of line?
  3. Reading the Magic Tree House books aloud "to Andy" helps Zach cope with his grief. Which books have helped you through difficult times in your life?
  4. In their review of Only Child, Kirkus Reviews said of the Magic Tree House series, "Seems like a lot of people, and not just the ones in this novel, need to reread those books." What are the "secrets to happiness"? Do you try to live by these rules? How do you think you could incorporate them into your daily life?
  5. Zach uses colors to help him understand his emotions better. What do you think about Zach's justifications for his choices? Which colors would use to represent your emotions? Do you think colors have an impact on your mood?
  6. On page 114, Zach says, "People start to forget about you after you die and they can't see you all the time anymore. It was already happening with Andy. I started to notice that at his funeral that was on the day after the wake. Everyone was talking about Andy, but they talked about him like they only remembered some parts of him, not all the parts. . . . It was like they weren't really talking about Andy or they were starting to forget about what he was like." Do we do a disservice to our loved ones when we only remember them at their best?
  7. Do you think Zach should have returned to school earlier, or that he was sent back before he was ready? What role does Miss Russell play in helping Zach heal? Do you think Zach learns to trust school as a safe place again?
  8. Zach suffers from survivor's guilt after Andy's death, feeling that everyone might have been happier if he'd died instead. How does Aunt Mary help Zach work through these feelings? What does she teach him about family?
  9. Zach's TV interview is traumatic for him. If you were in his mom's position, would you have put Zach on camera? Why did she insist, and why didn't any of the other adults intervene?
  10. What do you make of Zach's perceived betrayal by Dexter? Did Dexter fail Zach when he needed a friend most, or was he just doing his job? Do you think Zach sees the situation more or less clearly because he's a child?
  11. If you had to trade places with any of the characters, who would it be? Why? Who would you least like to trade places with?
  12. According to the Gun Violence Archive (http://www.gunviolencearchive.org), nearly four thousand children and teens were hurt or killed by gun violence in 2017. Do you think there is anything we could be doing to prevent these injuries and deaths?
  13. Many books have been written about school shootings but none from the point of view of such a young child. Why do you think the author wrote this book from Zach's perspective instead of an adult's? Did having such a young narrator teach you anything new about surviving tragedy?
  14. If you could give Zach one piece of advice to help guide him as he grows up, what would it be?


Book Club Report

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...
  • Book Jacket: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    by Hank Green
    As one half of the extremely popular YouTube duo "Vlogbrothers" (the other half being his brother ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for Eden
    Waiting for Eden
    by Elliot Ackerman
    Elliot Ackerman's latest novel, Waiting for Eden, follows Marine Eden Malcom as his death ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Severance

Severance by Ling Ma

An offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire that is featured on more than twenty 2018 "Must Read" lists!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.