Reviews of Only Child


"An audacious debut novel. Navin is wonderfully awake to the ways relationships suffer during periods of mourning."

- Julia Pierpont, The New York Times

New York Times book review


“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.

- Ann Hood, The Washington Post

Washington Post


"Redemption, recovery and hope remain the name of the game."

- TIME Magazine

Time Magazine

"[A] gut-wrenching Room and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, it contains wisdom for all ages."

- People Magazine

"This gut-wrenching debut an important reflection of the culture, with school shootings as commonplace as they are. VERDICT For teens who appreciate intense emotional stories and those who feel compelled to read about this new normal."

- Starred Review, School Library Journal

"Navin expertly inhabits the mind of a 6-year-old, resulting in a devastatingly simple and believable account of the tragedy."

- Camryn Finn, The Breeze

"Only Child by Rhiannon Navin (Knopf) is a heartbreakingly timely novel about an elementary-school shooting...The fact that the book is told through the eyes of a child makes it all the more moving and resonant."

- New York Post

"For as complicated as “grown-ups” (and yeah, politics) make gun control, from Zach’s perspective, the solutions are glaringly simple: talk to me instead of the television, have sympathy...for what the people around you are going through, don’t let violence beget more violence, make space for recovery and healing, make space for recovery and healing."

- E. CE MILLER, Bustle

"There will be no more timely book release this year."

- The Guardian

"Moving and extremely thought-provoking, this is a very promising debut from a clearly talented writer.

- The Daily Express UK

"A story that is about forgiveness and reconciliation, this is a moving book that will stick around long after the final page has been turned."

- The Cosmopolitan UK

"This hotly anticipated debut novel takes on topics both timely and tragically universal: school shootings, love, loss, forgiveness, and pain."

— Glamour

“[This] powerful novel imagines aftermath of a Newtown-like school shooting. . . . Only Child earns its worth by avoiding gratuitous scenes of horror in favor of a careful examination of the way one boy and his parents, and their community, struggle to survive—and stay together—after the worst has happened.”

- USA Today (3/4 Stars)

"Innocence trumps violence in Rhiannon Navin’s Only Child"

- Vanity Fair

“Navin succeeds in the tricky job of narrating her tale through the eyes of a young child. She views her characters with compassion, even as they are not on their best behavior. How could they be? Only Child shows the painful aftermath of a calamity that’s becoming all too common. . . . Zach knows only that things are bad and he wants them to get better. He also knows what he has to do to make that happen.”

- BookPage

"It's hard to imagine a more timely novel...(It) is a heartbreaking exploration of grief, family, and resilience in the face of immeasurable tragedy."


“This emotional tale . . . sinks its hooks into you from the very first sentence and is a captivating exploration of a family’s struggle to knit itself together after an act of violence.”

— Marie Claire

“Perfect for fans of Room, this heartbreaking but important novel offers a new perspective on trauma and reminds readers that hope can be found in even the darkest moments.”

— Real Simple

"This captivating novel about family, prejudice, trauma, politics and forgiveness will appeal to fans of Room, The Lovely Bones and The Fault in Our Stars. . . . It is 6-year-old Zach who sees through the politics and prejudice which the adults can’t and who helps the people in his town to piece themselves back together again."

— The Independent (UK)

"The author’s ability to storytell from the perspective of a six-year-old boy is striking. Rhiannon Navin dug so deep in subtle, aching ways that I found myself pausing it for the sake of gathering myself."

- The Audioblog by Audiobooks


"Emotional, heartbreaking, and beautifully sustained."

- Sue Leonard, The Irish Examiner

"Grab hold of the tissues for a heartbreaking read that's full of compassion and insight."

- Woman & Home Magazine

"Rhiannon Navin's powerful debut will appeal to fans of Emma Donoghue's novel, Room."

- Good Housekeeping UK

"Now is the time to read this hard-hitting debut."

- The Unputdownables, Heat Magazine

"Navin makes this unfathomable loss more comprehensible through Zach's eyes. The narrative is both gripping and heartbreaking--and ultimately uplifting--as Zach clumsily finds his way to moving forward, bringing his parents along with him."

- Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

"Navin explores the intersection between violence and mental illness in this important and timely book."


"Navin’s success lies in portraying a devastation so complete that it cancels out the possibility of any consolation. And in the novel, much like with the Parkland shooting, a child turns out to be the moral compass and the conscience of a nation."

- The Hindu

"Emotional, empathetic and full of heart, Rhiannon Navin's debut novel explores how family and the wider community deals with the aftermath of a school shooting."

- Popsugar Australia

“Navin deftly narrates through Zach's innocent eyes, and her timely debut will remind readers of Emma Donoghue's Room as they watch Zach untangle his grief and shock and fear.”

Apartment Therapy “9 Buzzed-About Authors You'll Want to Know Before Your Friends Do”

“Fans of Emma Donoghue’s Room will adore the six-year-old narrator in Only Child, and the novel’s take on a school shooting proves hauntingly relevant today.”

Paste Magazine “The 25 Most Anticipated Books of 2018”

“Heartbreaking. . . . Zach’s seemingly childish coping mechanisms show maturity beyond his years.”

- Catherine Coyne, The Sun Chronicle

“A novel with a child-narrator you can’t help but love.”

— Bustle


"A six-year-old narrator gives voice to a tragedy and its aftermath in an astonishing debut novel."

Publishers Weekly

"A powerful exercise in empathy and perspective."

- Kirkus Reviews

"Navin offers one of the big debuts of next year, narrated by a six-year-old who has suffered a terrible trauma."

Library Journal

"One of the publisher’s biggest books of the spring—the voice immediately distinctive and riveting."

Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

“ONLY CHILD realizes every parent’s ultimate fear: what if your kid’s killer is someone you knew – or thought you knew? Congrats to Rhiannon Navin – this is an outstanding debut.”

— Harlan Coben, #1 NYT Bestselling Author

“As I flew through ONLY CHILD, I realized that my heart, not my fingers, turned the pages. Rhiannon Navin finds a miraculous way to simplify the unthinkable into a page-turning, emotional awakening. Through the eyes of six-year-old Zach, we get to see the beauty that can rise up after pain and loss. And we get to see through the noise of our adult lives, back to the undeniable truth of childhood – kindness begets kindness.”

— Bryan Reardon, NYT Bestselling Author of Finding Jake

"Navin steps bravely into the storm surrounding school shootings, asking us to consider the volatile issue of guns in America through the eyes of a child."

- San Antonio Express-News

"This book may drive readers toward being more mindful that a young child’s heart may be broken by a traumatic event but not reveal it on the outside."

- The Florida Times-Union

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