Cover Image: The First Day of Spring

The First Day of Spring

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Member Reviews

I received a copy of the book from Netgalley to review.  Below is the blurb:

"So that was all it took,' I thought. 'That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn't so much after all.'
Chrissie knows how to steal sweets from the shop without getting caught, the best hiding place for hide-and-seek, the perfect wall for handstands.
Now she has a new secret. It gives her a fizzing, sherbet feeling in her belly. She doesn't get to feel power like this at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.
Fifteen years later, Julia is trying to mother her five-year-old daughter, Molly. She is always worried - about affording food and school shoes, about what the other mothers think of her. Most of all she worries that the social services are about to take Molly away
That's when the phone calls begin, which Julia is too afraid to answer, because it's clear the caller knows the truth about what happened all those years ago.
And it's time to face the truth: is forgiveness and redemption ever possible for someone who has killed?"

I felt both horrified while reading this book and empathy for the main character in this book.  What a poor start to life Chrissie has.  Loved the character of Linda.  Really enjoyed this book and would recommend it, even though at times it can be quite disturbing.
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I have never read anything quite as brutal and hard-hitting as Nancy Tucker's 'The First Day of Spring'. I left it a couple of days after finishing to write this review and I am still haunted by Chrissie's story. When the first page depicts an eight year old murdering a toddler, you know you are in for quite the journey. Who is this girl? What is her life like? And how could she possibly be driven to such a horrific action as this? The reader is immediately gripped and stays this way for the whole novel.

We view Chrissie's life as a child and adult in parallel. The distinction in writing style between eight year old Chrissie and Julia, her 25 year old, single mother self, makes the two personas distinct yet the juxtaposition between the two narratives drives the story. Chrissie is a child who is riding high on committing murder, using the joy to try and forget her hunger and the tricks she plays to get other households to provide for her basic needs. She is an incredibly angry and complex child - was she really born evil or created from the horrific circumstances of her home life? Alongside this, we have Julia, now mother to Molly and living with a new identity, who is still haunted by her past actions and wondering whether she can ever be forgiven.

Wow, this book is good. You would think it very hard to have sympathy for a child who is a murderer. However, the complex narrative Tucker weaves makes judgement of every character far from simple. Start reading for that disgustingly hard-hitting opening chapter and stay for the stark examination of abuse, neglect and redemption. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher who provided an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book really messed with my head. I thought it was excellent, although the subject matter was horrific. Chrissie grows up in a hugely dysfunctional family, suffering constant hunger and neglect. Her mother, herself abused by her husband, ignores and starves her daughter. And that’s only part of the abuse Chrissie suffers. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Chrissie develops bizarre beliefs and behaviours. As an eight-year-old, for example, she thinks that her largely absent Dad is dead, and that when he occasionally comes to visit her he has somehow come back to life, like Jesus. Unsurprisingly, always craving food and attention, Chrissie is an obnoxious bully who sets out to hurt and annoy everyone from the shopkeeper to her teacher. She has warped notions of love. And she’s a killer. And yet somehow her behaviour is understandable, maybe even inevitable.
Nancy Tucker’s language when telling the story through Chrissie’s eyes is spot on – she really gets into the mind of the young girl to describe how Chrissie feels, and how she experiences the world. We also hear from Chrissie as an adult, now living under another name, and a mother herself. Again, I had mixed feelings about the older Chrissie, but gradually she drew me in until I found myself really rooting for her. Never believing herself to be a good enough mother, the older Chrissie lives in constant fear of her daughter being taken away from her. 
This is an absolutely gripping tale about childhood neglect, friendship, longing and fear, told in an exciting, unique voice. The author’s wonderful humour provides much-needed relief from the horror, in particular Chrissie’s observations and understanding of adult foibles, particularly those of the gossiping, interfering ‘mammies’.
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This is a deeply disturbing but powerful novel about the effect of neglect and abuse on children. Your attention is grabbed from the first sentence where Chrissie, an eight year girl, describes how it felt to have just killed a toddler. Talk about a chilling and confronting start! 

After such a horrifying start, the novel takes us into Chrissie’s life as she hugs her wicked secret to her while those around her hunt for the little boy’s killer. She is a child of negligent and distant parents; a father who is rarely there and a mother who is also a victim of generational poverty and neglect and seems to be away from home all day but never feeds or cares for Chrissie. With her thieving habits and wild ways, other parents discourage Chrissie’s friendship with their kids, but Chrissie is wilful and brash and has learn to bully and lie, cadging food where she can to survive. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for Chrissie, despite what she has done. Deep down she knows she is a ‘bad seed’ but like all children she just wants to be seen and loved.

Twenty years later Julia, a single mother is trying her best to raise her five year old daughter but with no role model of her own she is insecure and paranoid that her little girl will be taken from her. Confined for many years in a secure children’s home, she feels she doesn’t fit into normal society doesn’t know how to interact with the other mothers around her. All she wants is to raise her child in a safe and loving home and give her the childhood she never had. 

Told with compassion and sensitivity, this is a very dark psychological drama and an amazing debut novel. The author writes the voice and thoughts of an eight year old child so convincingly that she feels like a real child, one you want to take away from her awful home before it’s too late (although of course it already is). Julia is also a convincing character, so conflicted by her past, yet to come to terms with what she did and learn to forgive herself before she can make a fresh start with her child. Overall this is a deeply thoughtful and moving novel that I suspect I will think about for some time.
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Eight year old Cassie kills a little boy. Years later Cassie, now a mother herself, fears that her past is about to catch up with her.
Is Cassie a monster? As the story slips backwards and forwards between Cassie’s childhood and the present day, It certainly looks that way, but as more and more of Cassie’s life is revealed, one begins to see that how a killer can also be a victim.
I don’t like to give away plot details; I’ll say however that the story is well written; it drew me in and kept me wanting to know more. The characters were well written and came across as very real and believable..
Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy in return for an honest review.
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This starts with the greatest line “I killed a little boy today”. This is possibly the best book I have read so far this year (we are only at the end of January though!) this centres around one character, Chrissie aged 8 when she kills a little boy and herself years later, now named Julia.

Chrissie is a clever little girl who is desperate for attention, abused by her mother, mostly neglected but often not fed, never clean and deserted by her dad who she initially believes is dead until he returns from prison when she is told to call him uncle. No wonder the poor girl is so confused! This is a devastating story of how that abuse led Chrissy to do the unthinkable and how it later affects her life and gives her constant fear that her own child will be take away at any moment.

The characters are well developed. Chrissy is particularly well written and my heart breaks for her multiple times, despite her want to murder many people and be so disruptive. She often just thinks of herself as a ‘bad seed’ which I think is how she wants to be seen rather than feeling like a monster. Chrissy is very direct and can be very funny with her bluntness, but she is often also very close to the mark, definitely not a stupid girl by any means.

As Julia you can see how much she loves her daughter Molly, she would do anything for her but doubts her abilities as a mother all the time. Moly is Julia’s opportunity for survival and for regrowth. Her best friend, Linda, whom she has known since she was a small child, is a brilliant friend. She is sympathetic and caring and loves both Chrissy, Julia and Molly, she has a heart of gold and would make a best friend to anyone. 

This is a heartbreaking, compelling read that I just couldn’t put down. There is plenty of suspense, it’s dark and you don’t know what is going to happen next. The book is so well written it’s seamless going between Chrissy and Julia’s chapters.

This is a brilliant book; you don’t want to miss it!
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Read through netgalley
Very loosely based on the story of Mary Bell, 8 year old Chrissie commits a terrible crime. The story itself is incredibly difficult to read but portrayed perfectly the experience of Chrissie as a child experiencing chronic neglect and emotional abuse. Despite Chrissie committing such an awful crime, I felt sorry for her which is a comment on how wonderfully talented the author is. Would recommend.
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I was sent an email about this book based on other books I’d reviewed. It was suggested it would be one i’d enjoy. They weren’t wrong! 

It’s a very different thriller, the storyline is like nothing I’ve read before. It starts off with Chrissie as a child saying she had killed someone. So instantly I was drawn in! 

The story goes back and forth to past and present, Chrissie as a child and Chrissie as an adult (under a new name). Even though you know she has done something terrible, you can’t help but route for her! She’s a lonely, neglected child. Even when she’s an adult, you like her. It’s very clever how the author has done that. 

The story itself was great, the writing style
was enjoyable and the whole time the story kept my attention. 

Overall an enjoyable read. Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read :)
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Loved the beginning but definitively not a mystery or a thriller and it then went downhill.
Eight year old Chrissie comes from an abusive home and kills a young boy from her street and loves the power it gave her.
The story is told when she grows up and has a child of her own.
The story just didn`t flow for me, it was confusing, the characters were very annoying just got to 43% after trying to read a few times but gave up.
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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An unusual and at times uncomfortable tale of a young girl brought up in difficult circumstances. This affects how she sees the world and how she feels about people. I found the storyline compelling but maybe it’s not for the faint hearted
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TW child death, child neglect 

I went into this book blind as it was recommended to me by a friend.

The ‘story’ is told in a split timeline where we hear the narrative of Chrissie as an eight year old child; and as Julia as an adult, after she’s reassigned another identity. 

Although I did feel sorry for Chrissie she was obviously neglected and the hunger and neglect really distorted her views on things. An eight year old doesn’t wee on another persons bed just because their anger and hunger fizzes up inside them. She was clearly disturbed.

Her mother (if you can even call her that) told her on multiple occasions when her dad left that he was dead, so no wonder Chrissie had no idea about death when her ‘Da’ came back from the dead time and time again.

She suffered child neglect at the hands of her mother, who was suffering from some kind of mental breakdown, drinking, sleeping and ignoring her daughter. Who doesn’t feed their kids? 

As an adult, Julia is trying to care for her daughter Molly, so much so that they life a regimented life so that her daughter has  structure and routine.

We never do find out why Chrissie did what she did at such a young age; but reading between the lines she should have had more help than she did due to her circumstances rather than being locked away.

A really interesting read; but will be difficult in parts for some.
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A haunting read which will remain with me for some time to come. 
Chrissie is a neglected young girl , no love from her parents , no food to eat and left in dirty clothes , and she is also a killer.
The story it told through the eyes of the young eight year old Chrissie , and the older Chrissie now called Julia and it really is heart rending. 
This book is expertly written covering themes that are emotive , disturbing and thought provoking .
An excellent soul absorbing read.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK.
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Along with the gripping storyline, the author has drawn such a vivid and chilling characterization of Chrissie, that she actually feels real, and she’s certainly not a character I will forget in a hurry, and this, Ms Tucker, is the highest compliment I can pay you. A powerful, distressing, haunting, but ultimately brilliant read, and so sensitively handled.
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The book follows the story of Chrissie, an 8 year old child who commits a terrible crime – and 15 years later, single Mum Julia and her 5 year old daughter Molly.

With the historic storyline, you know that the crime has been committed from the start – so it’s not really a mystery – you’re just working through how everything happened and Chrissie’s actions were discovered.

This is not an easy read, and at the start I did wonder if I would persevere. Chrissie has such an awful upbringing and her circumstances are so very sad with her witnessing and being subjected to neglect and violence. Whilst it doesn’t forgive what she does – it does go some way to explain it. Her life is just horrible. It’s written in a way that just accepts that is the norm – it doesn’t glamourise or play down the situation – it’s just taken as that is Chrissie’s lot in life. Sadly I expect this is the case for lots of children around the country, it’s just many of us are protected from seeing that on a day to day basis.

To be honest, Julie and Molly’s life isn’t much better – and is equally harrowing at times. There is limited light and shade in this book, it is all pretty dark, although there are glimmers of hope towards the end. You really hope that the chain has finally been broken.

Despite the distressing content, I did want to keep reading to find out how the stories intertwined and played out. Overall I’m glad I persevered, it did really make me think, and was quite ‘different’ in a good way. I’m not sure you could say you ‘enjoyed’ it given the storylines.

The very final chapter is written from a third perspective – which was a clever touch – and particularly how a tooth falling out is dealt with compared to earlier in the story. A real ‘book club discussion point’ I would suggest.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC – even if it would appear I wasn’t very advanced in reading it!
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From the harrowing open line of this booked I was hooked.
It’s not an easy read due to the issues it covers - child abuse and neglect but is so beautifully written you have to keep turning the pages.
This is a great read and totally recommend it.
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The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker begins with the line ‘I killed a little boy today.’ This book was a difficult but excellent read, I was gripped, horrified, saddened and hopeful. Chrissie is eight years old when she murders another child and as the book develops we look at what led her to carry out such a horrific act. Chrissie’s homelife is shocking, an absent father and a mother who may as well not be there. She is never fed and sleeps on a urine soaked mattress every night. Her behavior is fuelled by her hunger, she will push her way into ‘friends’ houses just in the hope of getting something to eat. We jump to the future where Chrissie has a new identity after serving time in a young offender’s institute. She has a daughter Molly who she is terrified of losing. But she starts to receive phone calls from someone who clearly knows who she really is. Is her new life about to come crashing down around her and will she lose the one good thing she has ever done?
The First Day of Spring explores the subject of nature versus nurture and looks at what drives children to commit such crimes as murder. Chrissie is a complex character, she has not experienced care or love when she should have so how does she know how to give those things to others? This was very uncomfortable to read in places but I felt that it was very brave to tackle such a taboo subject matter and it was done with care and attention that shone through.
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NANCY TUCKER –THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING *****

I read this novel in advance of publication through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This is a story that begins: I killed a little boy today. Held my hands around his throat, felt his blood pump hard against my thumbs.

Shockingly, it is written by an eight-year-old girl. Who wants to kill again. 

This is a brilliantly written story, never sensationalised, of the little boy’s death and how it affects the community for decades to come. One half is written by Cassie, this disturbed young girl, believing because Jesus came back to life after death that other people do too; a girl who kicks and belittles her friends and considers herself unlovable. The other half is told from the POV of Julia, with a child of her own, who is Cassie grown up, still wracked with problems, her name changed after incarceration. 

With Cassie you learn things through the eyes of the child, her thoughts and way of seeing the world, with a mother who is incapable of caring for her or feeding her and tries to give her away, and a drunken, mostly absent father. 

With Julia you feel the fears she has for her own daughter, Molly, likely to be taken away because as a mother she is so unprepared, and dealing with an old school friend she was horrid towards but who turns out wants to help her.

This is a deeply moving and tragic story, convincingly told. Not for everyone, because of the subject matter, but an important one. Heart-renderingly a story that, reading recent news, continues behind closed doors to this day despite the efforts of social workers.
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Wow this is an incredible and powerful story. I just couldn't get over how fantastic the writing style of this book was. It totally engrossed me and time just flew away. It was such a dark and highly emotional book it just haunted me. The emotions just consumed the whole of me and by the end I was in tears. It was a story like nothing I had ever read before.  I found it very difficult to get over this book it is such a unique story. This book won't be leaving me for a very long time. This book is a dual timeline following an 8 year old child who's mother doesn't look after her at all and then it follows her as she is older with her own child. It unbelievable how haunting this book is the atmosphere and tension within will blow your mind. The only reason this book didn't get full stars was because I have never been haunted so much by a book and I struggled to cope with the feeling, this has never happened to me before. I just couldn't get over how powerful and well wrote it really was which is a credit to the author and publishers.  They have clearly created the next big seller. I am so that everyone will read this book . Thank you so much for creating this epic story wow.
The above review has already been placed on goodreads, waterstones, Google books, Barnes&noble, kobo, amazon UK and my blog https://ladyreading365.wixsite.com/website/post/the-first-day-of-spring-by-nancy-tucker-penguin-4-stars
Using either of the following names ladyreading365,  lady Reading365 or ladyc reading
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What a fabulous read! Absolutely loved it. It was a breath of fresh air, I found it different to other crime/thrillers. Very enjoyable.
It made me laugh in places and also made mr feel for the lead character. So well written. 100% recommend this book
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What a great book, I really enjoyed reading The First Day of Spring, going backwards and forwards in time following Chrissies young tormented life to Julia’s life with Molly.
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