Cover Image: The First Day of Spring

The First Day of Spring

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Member Reviews

While this wasn't a page turning read, it left me living in the grey area of  right and wrong which is what makes it so compelling to read.
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I’m really sorry but I couldn’t read this book after a few chapters in. I just can’t get myself to finish it due to the main plotline. It’s all on me and my fault that I haven’t read and research more the title before requesting it.
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This book was extremely sad and compelling to read. We follow Chrissie who aged 8 kills another child, then we follow her 2 decades later after release from a secure detention center. 

Throughout the Chrissie chapters we see her horrendous home life and the ways that she was failed repeatedly that led, in part, to the crime she committed. 

During the Julia chapters we see her as a single mother struggling with the guilt of what she did and trying to raise a child when she was never shown how to. 

This book analyses some very difficult subjects in a sensitive and non sensationalised way. The way the story is told we are shown that there is some sympathy due to some people who have committed the worst crimes. It also touches on institutionalisation, mental health issues and poverty through the eyes of a child, which for me made it even more sad. 

This is a book that will be staying with me for a while.
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The first part of the book was engaging, but I found it slow-moving and slow to continue. It’s a difficult trigger subject of child and domestic abuse, murder of children, and a girl who is a handful and who wants to be loved but has absent parents. The story is set between the child’s 9 or 10 year age and adulthood when she’s got a child herself. It’s s psychological story involving motherhood. It’s a sad book, but the girl eventually grows up to come to terms with things and to be the mother she never had to her child.
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This book will be staying with me for a long time. I was hooked from the first chapter, and the way in which the author captured the essence of the 8-year old protagonist was unparalleled - it became impossible for me to hate the character despite her being utterly unlikable. Heartbreaking. A tremendous debut, and will be looking out for Nancy Tucker's future works.
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t has been some weeks since I finished The First Day of Spring and it has taken that long for me to gather my thoughts and react to what I had read. I really wasn’t prepared for this book. I chose it because of the title and bright inviting cover (not the final UK publication cover I might add!). And honestly with everything else that is going on in the world at the moment I’ve only been reading books that are essentially light and fluffy. No offence to the other authors I’ve read is intended here - escapism is what has been needed over this year so far. 

Chrissie is a neglected child. She knows how to steal sweets from the corner shop without being caught, she volunteers for the milk monitor role at school to get access to extra milk, she knows the best hiding places for hide and seek and the best wall for doing handstands up against it. Now she has a secret and she can feel it fizzing inside her like a Sherbert Dibdab. She never feels like this and the power it brings with it is unlike anything else in her life. 

Fifteen years later Julia is trying to be the perfect mother to five year old Molly. She is always fretting and worrying, about routines, about meal times, about school shoes, what the other mums at the school gate think about her. The most important thing she worries about is that Social Services will take her daughter away. When the phone calls start Julia is too afraid to answer them. She knows that her past has caught up with her again. 

Nancy Tucker has done an amazing job in this book, her fiction debut. The First Day of Spring is a dark and intense read. It has you gripped from the get go as the book opens with Chrissie's shocking confession. Written from her own childish perspective her views on life and her surroundings are skewed by the lies told to her and the lack of care and love in her life. It isn't the easiest story to read but it just gets under your skin and no matter how distressing the narrative gets you just have to keep reading to find out how it ends up.

Supplied by Net Galley and Random House UK in exchange for an honest review.
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If I tell you that this story starts with a child killing a child you might never read this book. I almost didn’t read it. The subject matter felt too dark and I literally hovered over the first page undecided…but I would have missed out on one of the most brilliant and astounding books I will read this year. Everything about this is exceptional.

Whilst the story does start with the killing of a child this is not a gruesome book. Chrissie is 8 when she kills a little boy. She thinks death is temporary; she kills for the way it makes her feel which she describes as fizzing. She is a little girl who is starved in every way imaginable - neglected physically and emotionally, she endures long periods without food and without love. This story follows two narratives- that of the young Chrissie and that of Julia, who is the grown up Chrissie now with her own child. 

The writing simply blew me away - it’s utterly unique, raw, gritty, right to the bare bone of emotion, thought and feeling. The book imagines the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the subject we don’t want to read about…and she makes it imaginable, thinkable and a story we want to read..

The strength of this book lies in the writing and in particular for me in the way it captures the voice of the child. In my early childhood in a rural Yorkshire village I often played out with children who weren’t allowed home until later in the evening, who weren’t expecting much for tea.. And I remember those conversations with friends which swing on the balance of power..I haven’t read anything which has so powefully conjured up those conversations, it unearthed feelings and emotions that were so buried.

And all the way through this book your head will engage in a moral discussion -does Julia really deserve to have her own child, to what degree is Julia.. Chrissie? Did Chrissie’s circumstances excuse what happened? And you will think of your own children, and your heart will cry out against her and then you will listen to more and you will be soothed by the special and beautiful relationship between Julia and her child and not want anyone to take her away… 

 I also listened to this on audiobook - the narrator is superb - completely and utterly the voice of Chrissie…

With thanks to Netgalley and RandomHouse U.K. for a copy of this book. I purchased my own copy and the audiobook because I loved this so much.
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Nancy Tucker, The First Day of Spring

Nancy Tucker’s The First Day of Spring is the compelling, forcefully written story of a child murderer. The shock of the first sentence – “I killed a little boy today” – takes us with great immediacy into the mind and grim life of Chrissie. Eight years old, Chrissie is socially ostracized, lonely and appallingly treated by a mother who rejects and ignores her, dragging her along on one humiliating occasion to an adoption agency in the hope that she can simple give her away. Clever and resourceful, Chrissie is able to use her abilities only to try to find small survival strategies and to get someone – anyone – to notice her.

Tucker has the courage to risk the slow, repetitive accumulation of detail in the child’s narrative – tense and moving for us as readers, but also capturing the sense of inescapable daily repetition, the countless deprivations in the life of a child who has nothing. She is wretchedly alone in her small world of ‘the streets’, in which everyone tries as far as possible to ignore her. Her only goal is often to gain entry to a house where the parents will feel compelled to offer her a little food. Facing slow starvation, she is frequently unable to think of anything other than her hunger. At home, “the kitchen cupboards had nothing inside except sugar and moths”. 

For a brief time, the act of killing another child gives Chrissie a feeling of specialness. When people around her talk about the murder of the boy she repeatedly tries to hint at her secret, and the knowledge of her guilt gives her a fizzing sense of power: “I could feel everyone’s eyes on my back, and I bubbled with the power of it.” 

Chrissie’s narrative alternates with that of Julia, the name that grown-up Chrissie takes. We follow her after her release from the secure unit in which she has spent the intervening years. Now herself a parent, Julia not only carries the burden of her childhood guilt but is despairingly trying to learn how to mother her four-year old daughter Molly, terrified at every turn that she is doomed to fail and that, everywhere she goes, there are “scheming social workers crouched in the shadows, waiting to wrench her out of my useless hands”. 

The cumulative effect of The First Day of Spring is the creation of an unforgettably poignant and disturbing narrative voice. There is no romanticised poverty here. Instead, there is the overwhelming accumulation of inner torments - the harrowing substance of a life of desperation.
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This book is just all kinds of heartbreaking. It opens with the line "I killed a little boy today," then when you discover that the narrator is an eight year old girl, you are drawn in.

The story follows the life of the aforementioned eight year old, Chrissie. She chokes a toddler to death and everyone is shocked at the thought of a child killer being amongst them.

We learn that Chrissie's home life isn't the best. It is clear that she is very neglected by her mother. She is left to fend for herself most of the time which has obviously affected her. She just wants to be loved.

These chapters of Chrissie's childhood are interspersed with chapters from Julia's point of view, Chrissie's new identity. She is a mother herself now but how can she be the perfect mother to her daughter given her childhood?

The First Day of Spring is shocking and I went from feeling angry and disgusted at Chrissie's to genuinely feeling sorry for her. It's an emotional one!
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To be honest, I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I read it in its entirety but was left wondering what the point if it was.
The First Day of Spring tells the story of Chrissie, an 8 year old who kills a little boy. We then go from past to present as Chrissie is now known as Julia and is living with her own daughter.
Whilst Chrissie had a hard childhood, with little parental love and often hungry, I felt I had no sympathy for her at all.
This is a well written book, but not for me.
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Chrissie is a child who wants to be loved, where she lives with her mom, there is hardly any food leaving her to scavenge for herself. Her dad comes and goes. So she can only rely on herself.
A terrible thing happens to a little boy in the neighbourhood and the police starts searching for the killer.
Many years later, Chrissie is now called Julia and she has a daughter, Molly. She struggles to accept she should be happy and that she is a good mom.

This book is a really good read, but very dark. Some parts I found uncomfortable to read, especially when Ruthie’s death is described.
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This book actually took me a little while to get into and I will pop on here that it has a few topics in it that some people might find a little triggering or disturbing. Overall it was pretty well written, as it goes along it gets darker and more distrubing and that's where the dark grittiness of the storyline comes in. Which is where I kinda got more dragged into the book. I'm not totally sure what I made of this book.
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This was a powerful book that dealt really well with a very sensitive topic, well written and not for the faint hearted given the topic nature. It was very interestingly written from the viewpoint of the child and the author got this spot on. Intriguing and very unique.
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Sadly this book just wasnt for me. I don't doubt that this is a good book or wh yso many people would love.
The first like shocked me instantly and drew me in, but sadly after that line I just lost interest which is very sad.

It was my personal experience, but others will likely love this
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This is one of those books where I wondered what on earth possessed me to request it. The premise sounded somewhat intriguing but not really enough to entice me so I've no idea why I requested it. I read a few reviews before diving into the story of Chrissie (then) and Julia (now) and most were promising so I thought I might be pleasantly surprised. I was not.

The premise talked of eight year old Chrissie having murdered a boy in her neighbourhood. Even at that tender age, the feeling of power it gave her, the warm fuzzy feeling like soda pop in her belly made her feel powerful. She had a secret; one that no one knew about. Even when all the mammies and daddies were huddling around poor dead Steven in his mammy's arms. If he were not already dead, then he would have surely suffocated by the flabby breasts of his mother. But he's dead. And Chrissie killed him.

Fifteen years later, Chrissie is an adult living and hiding under a new name. Now Julia, she is a single mother to five year old Molly and all she wants is for her daughter to have all the things and the childhood that she had been denied. But now Julia's past is catching up to her. Someone knows her secret and she begins getting calls that taunt her. Someone knows the truth about what happened all those years ago. And now Julia risks losing the one thing that means more to her than anything - Molly.

The concept behind this story reminds me of the child killers of little Jamie Bulger who was only about 2 or 3 when he was killed by two boys only a few years older. Those boys served their time and were given new identities upon their release. But this story takes the reader on a dark and thought-provoking journey with one such child who took the life of another child. And it's not always what it seems. And it makes one question the judgements one is usually quick to make about child killers. Should they get a new identity and a new life? And what provokes them to murder in the first place? One thing is for sure, nothing is ever as it seems.

Chrissie's story may be a sad and heartbreaking one, disturbing even. But I couldn't connect to either her or her adult self as Julia. Both of them were just so disconnected it was hard to not just relate, but to even be drawn into her story. Don't get me wrong, it was cleverly written and thought-provoking but it was so uninteresting that I just wasn't all that bothered with what happened to Julia in the end. She may have loved Molly but it certainly didn't seem that way on the pages. Of course that stems from her disturbing childhood where she only wanted love but never received it. Naturally that made it difficult for her to relate to her own child. Julia and Molly were just so disconnected from each other that I just couldn't watch. I'm not overly maternal but Julia seemed even less so. It was painful.

In the end, I couldn't finish this book. I could barely begin it. The pace was so slow it was almost as dead as Steven with a narrative that felt very disjointed. Although I didn't enjoy it, plenty of others have. It was indeed a brave topic for a debut but it wasn't for me.

I would like to thank #NancyTucker, #Netgalley, #PenguinBooks for an ARC of #TheFirstDayOfSpring in exchange for an honest review.

This review appears on my blog at
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This book definitely had me hooked from the first page. It was mysterious and all encompassing. However, for me that’s where the positives end. I felt the story itself lacked depth and it struggled to keep my attention. I’d read a few pages and just feel utterly bored. I think the writing itself was good and I look forward to what the author writes next.
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I was unable to finish this book because it became too dark and disturbing to read. I was unable to reconcile the murder of a child with the thought of the protagonist being a mother now.
Since the book kept jumping timelines it also became confusing for me to follow. I am unable to connect with the material, so it won't turn up in my recommendations.
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The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker another great read from Netgalley 

If you're a fan of We Need to Talk About Kevin or The Push then this is definitely a book you need to pick up asap.

CW: child murder, child abuse, neglect

With the first line of the book being 'I killed a little boy today.' You know from the start this is going to be a rough read. An amazing one despite the difficult subjects it approaches throughout the book.

When 8 year old Chrissie kills a little boy called Stephen, the streets are in turmoil, adament to catch the child killer. Little do they know she walks among them, doing handstands, going to school, playing alongside their own children, desperate to do it again. 

20 years later Chrissie has a new identity and now has a daughter of her own. Desperate to stay hidden with a new name, desperate to be a good mother.

With a dual timeline the story unfolds and you see the inner workings of Chrissie's tormented mind in this disturbing domestic thriller. Neglected by her mother she wanders the streets. 

At times you are horrified by her thoughts and yet you feel torn for this child who is so unwanted and unloved seeking validation. She is so angry with everything and everyone. 

I struggled to put this one down even though I found it quite disturbing and sad.
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The first line of this book is probably the best first line I’ve ever read. The story is harrowing and beautiful - it will absolutely stay with me for a long time. I shall be recommending this to my friends who work in education. Incredible.
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This is quite an uncomfortable read due to the subject and I struggled the like they main character Chrissie even though she has clearly been neglected as a child which played into her actions but I never felt any remorse from her even when she had her own child and that made it hard to warm to her however the story was fascinating.
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