For readers of Room and The Girls, a dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children, narrated by a seven-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.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
This is a truly heart breaking story as seen through the eyes of Zach on the day a gunman came to his school and murdered 19 children and adults. The story begins with Zach’s teacher and his class mates hiding in the classroom store cupboard and the muffled popping of a gun being fired coming nearer to their safe place. He describes how he feels and how all the children know that this isn’t a drill this time. The smell of urine and vomit as it becomes all too much for some of them. There is such a truthfulness stripped back to what matters to him at this moment and how the other children are reacting. Then the quiet and rescue, the glimpses of school friends hurt and dead and the wait for parents to be allowed to reunite with them. But the most awful thing was the parents that couldn’t find their children. The hope, the maybe and what ifs, until there wasn’t any other options left but identify them as casualties.
There were times in this book that I had to stop, just for a moment. It is written in such a pure frank and innocent voice, how a seven-year-old sees others. Zach is lost in the carnage of heart-break that is left behind after this happens as all emotions are centred on the people who aren’t there anymore not the survivors. There was a part that really got me and it is so true. When someone we love dies we recall all the good things about them, this confused Zach because he knew that at times children weren’t good, they did naughty things but everyone forgot about those.
The story is set a few years ago at a time that adults seem to be dealing with their grief but forgetting that the children hurt too. Zach finds comfort in the only way he knows in a secret place and I must admit that this brought quite a few tears. At other times it is like Zach is stood on the outside of things looking in on how others are dealing with what has happened and he can see answers were others can’t. There are so many victims to a dreadful act like this which was tackled in a sensitive way by the author, very well done!
This story will stay with me for a very long time, beautifully written through the voice of innocence.
HERE IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I wish to thank NetGalley and Pan MacMillan, Mantle for an e-copy of this book which I reviewed honestly.