Friday 27 April 2018

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin

Heartstopping. Heartbreaking. Heartwarming.

Addictive and emotional, but also full of hope, Rhiannon Navin's Only Child is the most heartfelt book you'll read this year.

When the unthinkable happens, six-year-old Zach is at school. Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, he is too young to understand that life will never be the same again.

Afterwards, the once close-knit community is left reeling. Zach's dad retreats. His mum sets out to seek revenge. Zach, scared, lost and confused, disappears into his super-secret hideout to try to make sense of things. Nothing feels right – until he listens to his heart . . .

But can he achieve the impossible and remind the grown-ups how to love again?

Narrated by Zach, Only Child is full of heart; a real rollercoaster of a read that will stay with you long after you've turned the final page.

What did I think?

Oh my word, Only Child completely captured my heart; I felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest, given CPR and put back in again leaving scars that will remind me of this beautiful book for the rest of my life.

Written from the perspective of a six year old boy who experiences the devastating event itself and the heart-breaking aftermath of a primary school shooting, Zach is a voice that I will never forget.  I felt my heart squeeze as Zach talked about the sky crying and I almost felt as if I had to be strong for him, as I struggled to hold back the tears that kept threatening to fall.  I don't want to write anything about the story as it could spoil it for others but I will say that Only Child is a book that is very hard to put down and impossible to forget.

I was reminded of the stages of grief as I read about Zach's story and saw how the adults around him were behaving.  From the shock of the initial event to the anger as the parents look for someone to blame and the final acceptance as life goes on.  I compared grief for an adult against grief for a child and although we think children are resilient and quick to bounce back, I think it was good to show Zach's denial and anger coming through.  It's also a stark reminder that little ears hear a lot more than we realise.

I was so completely invested in Zach's story that I felt every single emotion with the characters in the book.  I felt that Zach had a lot to teach us about acceptance and forgiveness but also that it's ok to be upset and angry.  Zach's unique voice, so honest through his innocence, is written completely flawlessly making this a very special book indeed.

Only Child is an absolutely stunning book and I am completely astounded that this is Rhiannon Navin's debut novel.  It's exceptional, outstanding, extraordinary, fact it's all of the adjectives I can possibly think of and more!  Only Child is definitely one of my top picks of 2018; even the coldest heart won't fail to be moved by this perfect novel of loss, hope and everything in between.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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