‘Only Child’ by Rhiannon Navin

I love it when novels with a difficult subject matter are narrated in a child’s voice. The innocent description makes a story less overwhelming and gives a unique perspective. The child’s voice can bring an element of tenderness, awe, and even humour to life’s most heartbreaking situations, exploring big emotions with simplicity and fresh insight. Examples you may know are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Room by Emma Donoghue, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.

This book is especially poignant because the child has been largely abandoned by a grieving family when his older brother has died in a school shooting. Already a quiet introverted child, Zach retreats even further to try to cope with his memories of the shooting and the loss of his brother. When his parents remain absent and continue to struggle with grief in their own dysfunctional way, Zach’s courage, honesty, and integrity find a way to save his family from the darkness.

5 responses to “‘Only Child’ by Rhiannon Navin

  1. Thanks for this recommendation, Joanne. Though an incredibly difficult subject, the young child’s perspective brings an “out-of-the-mouths-of-babes” candour to the painful situation.
    Great first novel…hope to see more by this author.

  2. Beautiful, poignant story! Loved reference to Magic Tree House series! Grand kids favorite series when they were younger.

  3. This was a powerful story! Like Joan I loved the way the author used the Magic Tree House books to help this grieving child.

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