BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin [in Library Journal]

When her 5-year-old twins began practicing lockdown procedures in kindergarten, Rhiannon Navin channeled her fearful helplessness into writing what would become her debut novel. Six-year-old Zach’s memories of the “POP POP POP” he hears from inside his first-grade classroom closet remind him of a video game. In reality, those POPs claim 19 lives, including that of his 10-year-old brother, Andy.

Navin’s decision to narrate the horrific aftermath from Zach’s youthful, raw perspective is ideally enhanced by child actor Kivlighan de Montebello’s wrenching performance as he transitions seamlessly from cautious to questioning to screaming to acceptance.

Zach is shattered by his mother’s withdrawal; he can’t understand her animosity against the shooter’s parents, who were, until this tragedy, beloved community members. He’s troubled by his father’s mysterious interactions with the mother of another dead child. He’s guilty over his initial relief because being Andy’s little brother wasn’t always easy. Before his family completely implodes, Zach devises an “urgent mission” – inspired by Magic Tree House book #37’s four secrets of happiness – to repair his fracturing family.

Verdict: Published a mere week before the February 14, 2018, Parkland, FL, massacre, this work’s shocking timeliness will result in demand in all formats.

Review: “Audio,” Library Journal, June 1, 2018

Readers: Adult

Published: 2018


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