Cover Image: The First Day of Spring

The First Day of Spring

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is not an easy book to read, it doesn’t give you a glow of satisfaction when you finish it, or make you think back on it and know you’ve enjoyed it. It does make you realise how lucky you are, that you haven’t been treated like this, or experienced such unkind treatment. This is a dark, grim read but well worth it for all that. Chrissie  is an unlovely child, even before she killed, but she’s never known anything else. Her own mother doesn’t love or want her, or even look after her.  She’s jealous of the other children and their loving families, and why shouldn’t she envy them, it’s what all children are just meant to have. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that, and Chrissie  is one of those who slipped through the cracks. I thought I would thoroughly dislike, even hate, Chrissie, but I couldn’t, It’s very gritty writing and an excellent debut novel.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Was this review helpful?
A well-written and thought-provoking book.  The characters are well-drawn and the story is completely compelling.  I found it a little hard to read at times, because of the subject matter but that is no criticism of this excellent novel.
Was this review helpful?
Oh my word, where to begin? I've read some fantastic books lately but this one tops them all. Eight year old Chrissie killed a child. Fifteen years later she has one of her own. Chrissie should have been hated, yet all I felt was pity for her. Told in two timelines, Chrissie as a child, and Julia as an adult. A truly dark and gripping story, well done Nancy Tucker!
Was this review helpful?
Wow - such an unusual, dark and multi faceted story is hard to summarise in a review (and without spoilers!).

Chrissy is 8 years old when she kills a little boy. A childhood of neglect, a feeling of being unloved and unlovable, and a strong need to be ‘seen’ create the perfect storm for the tragic act that sets this story in motion. We next meet Chrissy as Julia, an adult with a young child of her own, having been given a new identity and trying desperately to make something good of her life.

The intervening years see Chrissy in a secure ‘Home’, which appears to have rehabilitated but also institutionalised her - so much so that she doesn’t want to leave and indeed, when things get hard, yearns to return to so she can abdicate the responsibilities and challenges of living with a devastating secret. 

The reader grapples with conflicting feelings about Chrissy and the adults in her life: was she adequately punished? Was she to blame for what she did or was she just a desperately sad child with no concept of what she was doing? Was her mother merely weak and passive or abusive and cruel? The references to Chrissy waiting for Steven to ‘stop being dead’ and the correlation with her believing her dad is dead for the periods of time he is absent are poignant reminders of Chrissy’s childish grasp of what killing someone means, and her suspension of disbelief that her dad has voluntarily chosen to absent himself from her life. 

Julia’s relationship with Molly is shown to be complex- at the start Julia appears removed and detached, even cold, referring to ‘other-mothers’ and seeming to avoid physical contact with Molly. It becomes clear that Julia does love her daughter, desperately, and is terrified of losing her - she doesn’t know quite how to be around Molly and lives in fear of her being taken away. Molly’s simplicity, her normality, her complete obliviousness to her mother’s past, all throw Chrissy’s childhood into stark relief.

The book was certainly gripping; by turns disturbing and heart breaking, with difficult subject matter and exploring the toughest moral issues. 

It’s interesting to note from other reviews that the vast majority of readers sympathised strongly with Chrissy, in contrast to public reaction to real-life child killers. Clearly this is fiction, but it highlights the fact that a child killing another child is rife with ethical questions, conflicting emotions and crucial debate about the degree to which parents can (or should) be held responsible. 

My thanks to the author, publisher and net galley for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I read a lot of books and every now and again stumble across something really special. The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker is exactly that.
8 year-old Chrissie is a little girl it's hard to like, and that's before she kills a young boy She's rude,aggressive , spiteful.a bully and a thief . 15 years later ,and now called Julia for reasons of anonymity, she has  a 5 year old daughter of her own,Molly. Damaged from her childhood and institutionalised she struggles with life,being a mother, and feelings of inadequacy.  Molly suffers an injury ,Julia is wracked with guilt and is convinced that social service will assume she's hurt her daughter and will take her away. Panicking she runs,she has no real plan but her flight takes her back to her past.

This is an amazing book,it's told in 2 timelines, the build up to Chrissie's crimes and the events that have her,as Julia, thinking her life is about to be ripped apart and feeling a complete failure. Neither "version" is particularly likeable and it's hard to feel sympathetic but as the bigger picture emerges ,and despite her awful crimes, a bigger picture emerges and it becomes apparent that the obvious victims are not the only ones.

There are parallels here with the case of infamous child killer Mary Bell,like Chrissie reviled by the public but someone who had a childhood no-one should have to endure. Chrissie has a similar belief to one Mary had as well but to say what would be to spoil the story. There's at least one other nod to Mary's story as well.

The book is a bit of a slow burn but it very soon grips,it's raw and unflinchingly brutal  in places. There's not much light , it's not easy to read as it seems that there will never be any light in Julia's life. As the end loomed I was thinking,I'm either going to finish this and think how grim the whole thing was,or there's going to ,somehow, be some kind of uplifting ending.'ll have to read it yourself to find out.

An incredible fictional debut,I think this one will be big.
Was this review helpful?
This book opens with eight-year-old Chrissie describing the experience of murdering a two-year-old, and it switches between the perspective of Chrissie as a child, and Julia (Chrissie's new identity as an adult) as she tries to bring up her own little girl.
It covers a lot of very dark themes and may be disturbing to some readers, but it was thought-provoking, leading the reader to feel compassion for Chrissie as well as horror at her actions.  It certainly kept me reading and I think the author handled a difficult topic very well.
Was this review helpful?
The First Day of Spring is a really thought provoking book which starts with a bang. Chrissie is 8 years old when she strangled a 2 year old. 15 years later and she has a daughter of her own. 

Narrated by 8 year old Chrissie and Julia (the name assigned to Chrissie as an adult when released from the Home) the story is so clever. Despite being a child killer it is impossible not to feel sorry for Chrissie who is so badly neglected by her mother and as an adult you sympathise with her attempts to be a better mother to Molly. 

I would highly recommend reading this one of a kind book.
Was this review helpful?
Wow, this book was dark, now I don't mean just a little dark, I'm talking nightmarishly twisted and dark.  It was a completely compelling read that I was unable to put down.  I'm not sure that I enjoyed it, the content itself was not enjoyable or fun to read, it was bleak and disturbing (way way way beyond disturbing) but yet at the same time it was one of those books that while on the one hand repulsed me, on the other intruiged me enough that I had to keep reading.  It had very distressing and unsettling scenes that shook me to the core, I didn't know if I wanted to cry at times or scream in rage. (I'm pretty sure I did both throughout).

The Blurb:
Chrissie is eight years old and has a secret: she has just killed a 2 year old boy.  She lives in the poorer part of town in England with a neglectful, unloving and uncaring mother and an absentee father.
Twenty years later, adult Chrissie is living in hiding under a changed name.  She is a single mother now who cares deeply for her young daughter - Molly, which is why she is so terrified when it appears people are looking for them.  The past is coming to catch up with Chrissie and she fears losing her daughter, the only thing she cares about.

The Last Day of Spring is told from the dual perspectives of eight year old Chrissie and 25 year old Julia (Chrissie's new identity).  The writing in this book is exceptionally phenomenal, although there were two perspectives and timelines, the story flowed seamlessly.  Both perspectives made for some compelling and riveting reading especially eight year old Chrissie's.  Although what she did was unforgivable and unforgettable, at the same time Tucker paints such a vivid picture or Chrissie's upbringing and childhood that the reader can't help but pity her.  My heart went out to her and broke for her over and over for all she had to endure and suffer through.  Although this doesn't condone her actions it does make the reader question the whole idea of nature vs nurture - was Chrissie just born to be bad? Or did she become a child killer because of her horrific upbringing? Reading from Julia's perspective was very intriguing and fascinating, to see how Chrissie had changed and how she interacted with her own child after everything she had done.

This was a jaw-dropping, nail-biting, horrific novel that had me on the edge of my seat.  I loved it while at the same time was truly horrified and disturbed by what I was reading.

4/5 Stars.
Was this review helpful?
Chrissie is 8 years old when she kills a little boy. Now, 15 years later, she has a new identity and a young daughter of her own. She is determined to be a good mother to Molly, but she is always convinced that social services will take her away. The story is told by 8 year old Chrissie, a sad and neglected child, and by the grown up 'Julia', desperate to give Molly everything she was deprived of as a child. I found this book heart breaking. There is always much to be discussed when a child kills, and it is very easy to judge. I hated and loved Chrissie in equal measure and I have found this book to be very thought provoking. Thanks to NetGalley for a preview copy.
Copied to Goodreads.
Was this review helpful?
This was an amazing book. I read it in a day. It was one of the best books I’ve read this year. Can not wait for more by this author!

Thank you to publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book. Fantastic!
Was this review helpful?
An outstanding novel that made me feel both hatred and love. 
The prose is sharp and visceral and It is as ruthless as the story it narrates,  Every sentence sends a punch to your heart and soul. I have never before hated and loved a character in such equal measures. 
Even at the end I don't know how I feel about Chrissie. 
As a mother I hate her for what she has done. As a mother I love her and want to go back to her past and help.
A shocking story of abuse and neglect. And of a child just wanting to be visible and loved.
Was this review helpful?
Complex and riveting from start to finish, The First Day of Spring will leave a pit in your stomach. Many thanks to Hope Butler at Penguin for recommending this book. Debut author Nancy Tucker delivers a nuanced narrative that describes the damage wrought by neglect. A fascinating and devastating read, one of the best this year!

Narrated through the voice of the killer, the opening chapters describe the exiled and demoralized life of Chrissie whose Da is absent and whose Ma is unable to provide. I rooted for her and adored her voice which is testament to great writing. I also resonated with her neediness as she continues to be starved of everything so vital to her development. Her mother is skillfully drawn, a woman who despite all her tears and struggles, has no support, not even for dental work on her daughter’s rotten tooth. The adoption scene almost made me cry. There is enough detail to drop a reader right there without it being labored or overdone. Empty cupboards force Chrissie out into the streets to scrounge for food, or stay in a friend’s house long enough to be offered tea. A child too young to understand what is going around her. The toll it takes on an eight-year old is beautifully described, her vulnerability, the stunts she has to pull to get what she needs. Sometimes there’s humor to her inner monologue which lightens the gut-churning load. It’s not surprising she spirals down a dark path, desperate to be recognized and accepted. But when a two-year-old boy is killed, Chrissie’s point of view becomes so harrowing, it’s hard to read and hard put down. 

Julia, Lucy, Chrissie is a mother now, frying fish and mopping floors and giving Molly the childhood she never had. But when a phone call threatens to reveal her past, she must face up to the horror or risk losing her daughter. Her thoughts are ingenuous as if she’s never been allowed to mature, almost a show-and-tell of her tragic life both past and present. Christmas with its cracker and horrid grey soup. There’s always the anticipation of something more sinister. 

This is a moving story about the all-consuming consequences of a stolen childhood and the aftershocks that haunt this type of trauma. Gripping and stunningly written, I had a lump in my throat until the end.

Many thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone and to Netgalley and the author Nancy Tucker for an advance copy of this amazing book. It was a privilege. 
#TheFirstDayofSpring #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
Chrissie’s mum doesn’t want her, and her dad is rarely there. There is rarely any food in the house, and she learns to accept the smallest of gestures as a possible sign that someone is interested in her. But she discovers that the best way to be noticed is to be bad, really bad.
Julia has just been released from a long sentence. She hated it there, but it felt safer than now, back on the outside. She has a 5-year-old daughter to look after, the result of a brief liaison. She puts all her efforts into looking after her but is scared that she really has no idea how to and needs to look over her shoulder constantly.
The First Day of Spring is a memorable book. Chrissie and Julia tell their stories in alternate chapters, a story becoming more harrowing with each page. It is impossible not to feel a deep sadness for Chrissie, whose survival depends on with whom she can curry favour or antagonise the least. She is irritating and cruel but entertaining at the same time.
With her life experience so far, Julia has become a shell, a ghost, someone worthy of nothing, expecting nothing, therefore unable to give anything. Maybe with a little too much insight into her own and her mother’s motivations, but then again, she has had plenty of time to consider the consequences of her dreadful actions.
There is some hope at least at the end of this very dark, well thought-out read.
Was this review helpful?
Firstly my thanks to Lisa Jewell for recommending this book and to Selina Walker for sending me an ARC copy.

WOW – this is a book that whatever I write here will NOT do the book, the story, the characters or the author any justice because I don’t think I can put my thoughts down in a way that expresses my feelings coherently, but I will try because this book is simply INCREDIBLE.

I’m not a wordsmith or an expert in writing reviews, I’m just an ordinary reader with a blog who likes to read and recommend books so I feel almost embarrassed that this review won’t get the praise it deserves, but here goes…

The First Day of Spring is Nancy Tucker’s first work of fiction and MY GOD this is OUTSTANDING. This book will NOT appeal to everyone, there are some serious topics which will trigger readers, so I will warn you now, it’s about child neglect and killings and is told through the voice of the child murderer. It’s uncomfortable, raw, brutal and down right disturbing from the opening paragraph to the end of the book.

Chrissie is our 8 year old narrator and her voice is so authentic it’s actually heartbreaking. Growing up with an absent Da and a neglectful Ma, she spends her days wandering the streets looking for something to eat as there is never any food at home, following her friends home because she’s so lonely and trying to make herself seen and heard in the small tight knit community she’s grown up in. All she wants is to be loved and wanted and all she receives is rejection and dismay at her behaviour which is growing more vicious with every knock back she gets. When Chrissie takes her anger and hurt out on a 2 year old boy and kills him, the entire community is in shock but Chrissie manages to avoid being caught as the killer for a while.

Julia is the other narrator, she is Chrissie now aged 25 living under a different identity having served time in a juvenile home from the age of 9 to 18 and now a mother herself to a 5 year old daughter called Molly. When a phone call from her past threatens everything Julia now has, she has no option but to face up to her horrific past before the authorities take away her daughter.

At no point during this book did I feel anything but pity for Chrissie and my heart broke following her journey which was so sad and unnecessary. Chrissie’s mother was as much as victim as Chrissie – a women who didn’t know how to be a mother, didn’t want to be a mother and didn’t have any help or support. Chrissie was left to fend for herself, she was a victim of neglect and was starved not just of food but of love. She overheard being described as a “bad seed” and from that moment on she accepted she was bad and it was only whilst performing bad acts that she felt alive and “seen” by everyone.

I wasn’t able to put this book down, it burrowed deep under my skin, leaving me breathless and sad. I know this is a book of fiction, but Chrissie/Julia became real to me. The murder of the innocent little 2 year old was an act of absolute evil. Chrissie’s thoughts and behaviour were painful to read as a mother and as a human being.

This book is so powerful and so disturbing that I will be thinking about it for months to come. Without a doubt this goes into my Top Ten Books of 2021 and you can buy it on publication day on 24th June 2021.

Was this review helpful?
I've just finished The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker and wow! The plot is frequently disturbing and I imagine that the subject matter will be divisive, so prospective readers should be aware of its potentially upsetting themes, but persevere as it is most definitely worth it; I could see this book being sucessfully adapted to the screen.

Except for the very end, it is written from the perspectives of the eight year old Chrissie and the twenty-five year old Julia and switches between them. Although specific dates and geographical details aren't provided, based on dialect, the children's freedom and the mention of several TV shows, I think that the Chrissie storyline is set in the North East in the 1970's. The imagery is absolutely superb and Chrissie's desperation and vulnerability is conveyed brilliantly. A combination of poor parenting, poverty and other people either pretending not to see or not wanting to get involved, means that Chrissie is failed by both her family, school and society, like her own mother before her. Will future Chrissie be able to break this cycle of neglect?

Scenes and characters are closely observed but Nancy conveys them by focusing on specific details, traits or dialogue and does not overwhelm the reader with superfluous information. The Smarties incident was unexpected and like some of the other scenes, it was heartbreaking. I feel that this book lends itself perfectly to further study, such as public examinations or higher. It would perhaps also be beneficial for trainee teachers or any-one choosing a career working with children, so that they are able to recognise the difference between a 'naughty' and a 'needy' child. Even though we're living in more enlightened times, a lot of the issues raised in The First Day of Spring are relevant today.

I understand that this is Nancy Tucker's first novel so well done and I look forward to reading more.

Thanks to Netgalley and Cornerstone.
Was this review helpful?
Oh my goodness, I devoured this book in a day! It’s absolutely stunning. I really felt for poor Chrissie - all that anger and emotion in one small child. I want to buy a paper copy of this book and keep it forever. This is one of those stories that stays with you for a long time afterwards. Absolutely amazing. I didn’t understand the title until the very last page - but now I get it. ❤️
Was this review helpful?