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Only Child
Cover of Only Child
Only Child
A novel
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“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...
“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...
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Description-

  • 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.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    [1]

    The Day the Gunman Came

    The thing I later remembered the most about the day the gunman came was my teacher Miss Russell’s breath. It was hot and smelled like coffee. The closet was dark except for a little light that was coming in through the crack of the door that Miss Russell was holding shut from inside. There was no door handle on the inside, only a loose metal piece, and she pulled it in with her thumb and pointer finger.

    “Be completely still, Zach,” she whispered. “Don’t move.”

    I didn’t. Even though I was sitting on my left foot and it was giving me pins and needles and it hurt a lot.

    Miss Russell’s coffee breath touched my cheek when she talked, and it bothered me a little. Her fingers were shaking on the metal piece. She had to talk to Evangeline and David and Emma a lot behind me in the closet, because they were crying and were not being completely still.

    “I’m here with you guys,” Miss Russell said. “I’m protecting you. Shhhhhhh, please be quiet.” We kept hearing the POP sounds outside. And screaming.

    POP POP POP

    It sounded a lot like the sounds from the Star Wars game I sometimes play on the Xbox.

    POP POP POP

    Always three pops and then quiet again. Quiet or screaming. Miss Russell did little jumps when the POP sounds came and her whispering got faster. “Don’t make a sound!” Evangeline made hiccupping sounds.

    POP Hick POP Hick POP Hick

    I think someone peed in their underwear, because it smelled like that in the closet. Like Miss Russell’s breath and pee, and like the jackets that were still wet from when it rained at recess. “Not too much to play outside,” Mrs. Colaris said. “What, are we made of sugar?” The rain didn’t bother us. We played soccer and cops and bad guys, and our hair and jackets got wet. I tried to turn and put my hand up and touch the jackets to see if they were still very wet.

    “Don’t move,” Miss Russell whispered to me. She switched hands to hold the door closed, and her bracelets made jingling sounds. Miss Russell always wears a lot of bracelets on her right arm. Some have little things called charms hanging off them that remind her of special things, and when she goes on vacation she always gets a new charm to remember it. When we started first grade, she showed us all her charms and told us where she got them from. Her new one that she got on the summer break was a boat. It’s like a tiny version of the boat she went on to go really close to a huge waterfall called Niagara Falls, and that’s in Canada.

    My left foot really started to hurt a lot, and I tried to pull it out only a little so Miss Russell wouldn’t notice.

    We just came in from recess and put our jackets in the closet, then math books out, when the POP sounds started. At first we didn’t hear them loud—they were like all the way down the hallway in the front where Charlie’s desk is. When parents come to pick you up before dismissal or at the nurse’s office, they always stop at Charlie’s desk and write down their name and show their driver’s license and get a tag that says visitor on a red string, and they have to wear it around their neck.

    Charlie is the security guy at McKinley, and he’s been here for thirty years. When I was in kindergarten, last year, we had a big party in the auditorium to celebrate his thirty years. Even a lot of parents came because he was the security guy already when they were kids and went to McKinley, like Mommy. Charlie said he didn’t need a...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 27, 2017
    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Kivlighan de Montebello's young voice captures the innocent perspective of Zach, the 6-year-old first-person narrator of this novel. When an alert sounds in Zach's school, he's shepherded into a closet by his teacher. Amid the chorus of "POP, POP, POP," Zach's limited viewpoint gives a picture of the shooting in his elementary school, one of the victims being his 10-year-old brother. Zach little understands his father's affair, the severe changes his mother undergoes, or the saintly picture they paint of his sometimes-cruel brother. Inferences, de Montebello's youthful voice, and the author's references to the Hulk and the Magic Tree House give poignancy to the filter of Zach's na�vet�. De Montebello reveals Zach's truths, the gripping situations he finds himself in, and the unmitigated tension he feels. This excellent audio may be difficult to hear in view of recent events. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2018

    When her five-year-old twins began practicing lockdown procedures in kindergarten, 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 ten-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. ["A tough, topical story with a hopeful conclusion for the family, this is a strong book club choice": LJ 1/18 starred review of the Knopf hc; a Spring Editor's Pick, LJ 2/1/18, p. 31.]--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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