“Only Child triumphs. Zach, at only 6 years old, understands more about the human heart than the broken adults around him. His hope and optimism as he sets out to execute his plan will have every reader cheering him on, and believing in happy endings even in the face of such tragedy. . . . Navin manages to make Zach’s voice heartbreakingly believable.”—Ann Hood, The Washington Post
“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.
Navin's gripping debut opens with first grader Zach Taylor huddling in a closet with his teacher and classmates while shots and screams echo in his school's corridors. After the shooting, Zach's parents' frantically search for Andy, Zach's older brother, only to discover that he is one of the victims. Zach's gradual comprehension of the tragedy includes his bewilderment when people bring food to his house, which he thinks of as an unseemly party. As he works through his memories of Andy, he comes to an aching realization of the depth of his loss. His parents are too preoccupied with their own grief to notice Zach's anguish or to bring him to therapy. He takes refuge in books, reading hidden in Andy's bedroom closet, and is the bystander to his mother's nervous volatility and his father's adulterous liaison. When his mother resolves to bring a lawsuit against the parents of the boy who wielded the gun, in spite of the fact that the two families have had a longtime friendly relationship, Zach conceives a dangerous "mission" to bring healing to his parents and the community. Those who can handle the difficult subject matter will find the plot to be a page-turner; Navin also excels in brilliantly capturing Zach's perspective. 125,000-copy announced first printing.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A chance to see grief through a child’s eyes...
This book was so captivating and the narrative from a 6 year old boy was spot on. His emotions that he experienced, the fear and despair he has from watching his parents, his Mother mostly, grapple with grief after learning their 10 year son was shot while he was in school. The trauma that 6 year old Zach went through while the shooting takes place and in its aftermath is described with such conviction and earnest confusion in an age appropriate narrative that you will find yourself flying through the pages to read more. The message of finding happiness that comes from this child and a book he’s finding solace in is remarkable and eloquently delivered to the adults who may have been more lost in their own grief than Zach was in his.
What a beautiful tribute to our children who teach us more about life and living with grace than we ever could teach them. Bravo to the author!! Top 3 of favorites in the last year!!
This is a wonderful book. I have read it three times now cover to cover, and every time i can’t seem to put it down. As a mother myself, I can imagine the pain and grief Melissa was facing. I also absolutely love that the narrator is a small child, it really set this book above all others.
This wonderful novel came out at the worst possible time, right around the shooting in Florida. But it’s more about family dynamics than anything else. A story of hope told by a six year old, was one of my favorite novels in the last few years.