‘We went to school that Tuesday like normal.
Not all of us came home . . .’
I was honoured to be asked to be a part of this blog tour for Rhiannon Navin’s debut novel. I had read and loved it before I was asked to take part. Before I start this review I want to be mindful of the past few weeks events in Florida, this review may be distressing as it also relates to gun violence against children.
Six-year-old Zach is having a normal day at school, that is until a gunman enters his school. Hiding with the rest of his class and teacher, Zach listens to the ‘pop’ in the school, something that he won’t forget. Thankfully, Zach and his classmates survive and after finally being reunited with his distraught mother he thinks everything is ok, that’s until Zach’s parents ask him where his older brother Andy is but he’s not coming home.
This novel is a whirlwind of emotion and is written incredibly well. Told solely from the perspective of Zach, making it even more heartbreaking, the innocence of a child makes all the difference. Seeing not only the horror of the day itself but the impact this has on a child and on a family in the aftermath, I don’t even know how to begin to describe the emotion. This isn’t an easy read, but it is an important one.
I’ve read novels before focusing on the subject of a school shooting, they’ve made me feel deeply sad but this was different. The simplicity of the way Zach tries to process what has happened and how his family changes. I also found it interesting that Navin showed raw emotion and didn’t hold back. She showed a mother who needed justice no matter what, a father coping with his youngest child and a little boy confused by the feelings he’s experiencing. Can he be happy and sad at the same time?
In times like these, I think this is a vital read, it may be fictional but this could quite easily be a reality for a child or young person at school. For this, I applaud Navin for her portrayal. There are no dark details in this, it is simply the force of emotion that moves you alongside Zach. I, of course, gave this five stars. I cannot recommend the novel enough to everyone. A heartbreaking, poignant read.
Thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for this early release.