Only Child is told by six-year-old Zach Taylor, whose world is turned upside down when a gunman enters his school and kills nineteen children, including his older brother. The author has an uncanny ability to enter the mind of a small child and describe events as only a small child is able. The voice of innocence and wonder, sadness and confusion jumps out of every page as Zach tries to comprehend the tragedy that has befallen his family and the actions and despair of the adults around him, including his parents. Through his words, the reader learns about the family dynamic, issues they have been dealing with after Zach’s brother is diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) and its effects on the atmosphere at home. As Zach uses art and the Magic Tree House books to make sense of his new normal, his parents are struggling with the void in their family.
Again and again, moments that are purely childlike give Only Child a feeling of authenticity and add much needed humor to a book that is steeped in pain. This is an incredibly written and important debut novel which is extremely relevant to our country right now.