#BookReview – Only child by Rhiannon Navin (@MantleBooks)

only childWe went to school that Tuesday like normal.

Not all of us came home . . .

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing. 

Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can. 

Published 8th March 2018 by Mantle Books  

I knew this was going to be hard hitting well before I sat down to read it. It’s a book about the aftermath of a shooting in a school after all, but I’d also read some fantastic reviews from fellow bloggers. However, despite being forewarned, I still wasn’t prepared for the sheer horror and sadness I felt while reading it.

Only Child starts with six year old Zach huddled in a cupboard, along with his school teacher and classmates, listening to the “pop, pop,pop” of gun shots from the corridor. Immediately, the author puts the reader into the mind of a frightened six year old child with startling authenticity. While Zach knows something bad is happening outside, it’s small things like his teachers “coffee breath” which he notices. This struck me, I’m not sure why, but it was just so convincingly childlike and naive. Right there and then Zach stole my heart.

The majority of the book focuses on the aftermath of the shooting, as Zach’s family deal with first the relief that he survived, then the trauma that his older brother didn’t. I don’t think I’ve read such crushing and all consuming grief the way Rhiannon Navin writes it, when Zach’s mother is given the news. It was horrifically heart breaking, almost painful to read, but so exquisitely written, I can still picture the scene and feel how it made me feel days after I read it.

I felt an array of emotions as Zach lead us through the following months, as through his eye’s we see the impact of such a trauma on a family and a community. I felt angry at his parents at some points, particularly his mother, as they are so consumed by their own grief they seem to forget that Zach is also experiencing  grief of loosing his brother, but he’s also dealing with actually being at the shocking event himself. He doesn’t fully understand what happened, and has feelings he doesn’t know how to deal with. I wanted someone to stop and just hug this little boy. Of course, it’s easy to criticise from the outside. I can’t begin to imagine how I’d react if I were to experience something like this and I think the author portrayed an honest, raw and human side of a family struggling with grief and trauma.

When atrocities like this happen it is always shocking and horrific. However, once the news stops, we rarely see the far reaching effects such experiences have on individuals. In Only Child, Rhiannon Navin, takes us beyond the initial aftermath in heartbreaking honesty as Zach watches the effects on his family, his community and the parents of the gunman themselves. Only Child is powerful, brutal and heartbreakingly sad yet there are moments that feel positive and uplifting – where amongst the sadness there’s flashes of purity and forgiveness. It’s impossible to say I enjoyed this book, but it is one I appreciated reading, found incredibly powerful and important and will remember for a long time to come.

(I read an advance ebook courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley

WWW Wednesday – 7th March 2018

www wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Taking On A World Of Words to record and share our weekly reading.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?   

Currently Reading  

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 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. 

Published March 8th 2018 by Mantle  

Recently Finished   

let me lieThe police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

The stunning, twisty new psychological thriller from number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go and I See You. 

Published March 8th 2018 by Sphere 

Reading Next 

a mothers sacrificeGod ensured she crossed my path. And that is why I chose her.

The day Louisa and James bring their newborn son home from the hospital marks a new beginning for all of them. To hold their child in their arms, makes all the stress and trauma of fertility treatment worth it. Little Cory is theirs and theirs alone. Or so they think…

After her mother’s suicide when she was a child, Louisa’s life took an even darker turn. But meeting James changed everything. She can trust him to protect her, and to never leave her. Even if deep down, she worries that she has never told him the full truth about her past, or the truth about their baby.

But someone knows all her secrets – and that person is watching and waiting, with a twisted game that will try to take everything Louisa holds dear. 

Published 9th March 2018 by HQ Digital 

Happy Reading!!