Only Child by Rhiannon Navin (first published in 2018 by Mantle)
Hiding in the cupboard with his teacher and classmates saved six-year-old Zach’s life the day the shooter entered his school and killed 19 people.
And it is in the cupboard in his dead brother’s room that he finds a sanctuary from the emotional chaos that threatens to tear apart his mother, his family and his community.
While some readers have found the sophistication of Zach’s thinking unlikely for such a young narrator, the innocence his youthful voice brings does ring true.
As he says: “Yesterday we did all the things we do every Tuesday, because we didn't know that today a gunman was going to come.”
It is the same innocence everyone brings to such a shocking event. It is a life once taken for granted, that can never be restored to that same mundane comfort.
For Zach, the loss of his mother’s love and focus is most devastating.
When he seeks her and needs her most, her older son’s death consumes her more and fires a desperate need to seek justice from the perpetrator’s family.
This heartbreakingly topical story brings humanity to the headlines and the devastating effect of a violent event on all it touches.