Cover Image: The First Day of Spring

The First Day of Spring

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Honestly, this book gave me chills. It was an absolutely haunting novel in all the right ways, 8 year old Chrissie is terrifying and not someone I will be forgetting in a hurry! This book will stay playing on my mind I think.
This was my first Nancy Tucker book and I really hope to see more from her as this was everything I hoped it would be and more when I requested it. A genuinely devious plot with a good dose of humour thrown in!
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📚 BOOK REVIEW 📚 The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker - publication date 24th June 2021. 
  Chrissie is the main character in this book.
Chrissie also goes my different names - why ? - because chrissie killed a child, when she was only child herself!!  The story goes from the present, to seeing it through the eyes of her as a child.  The subject is touch to read about yes - but I could not put this down!! Please someone explain - why i could possibly feel empathy, for another human who had done this terrible thing .... but I did?!
Brilliant book!!  #nancytucker #thefirstdayofspring #bookstagramshaz #thrillingbook #netgalley #randomhouseuk
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Thanks to Nancy Tucker, Random House UK and NetGalley for the advance review copy of The First Day of Spring.

The cover of this book is really, really striking and I will be honest it was that, coupled with a synopsis of this book that really caught my attention. When Chrissie was 8 years old, she killed a her 2 year old neighbour. 15 years on she has a child of her own and her past threatens to take her daughter away.

I thought this book would be a psychological thriller and was expecting a scenario where Chrissie's hidden past catches up with her, perhaps where someone learns her secret and it threatens to tear her new life apart. That isn't how this book panned out at all, 

Instead, The First Day of Spring was a emotional, sensitive and heartbreaking look at the prospect of nature vs nurture, being given a second chance at life and the impact of abuse upon the abuser. 

Told via duel timelines, we meet 8 year old Chrissie - her mother neglects her, she barely has anything to eat unless its a school milk roster day and her father is in and out of prison. She has never known love and craves attention. We then meet Julia (Chrissie with a new identity 15 years later), who is now raising her own 5 year old daughter Molly and desperately trying to give her the upbringing she never had, whilst all the while expecting her to be taken away by social services. After all, why should she deserve the love of a child when she took someone else's child away?

Nancy builds up such strong emotions towards these characters, that you feel both angry about Chrissie's behaviour yet heartbroken for her in equal measure. You feel bitter towards Chrissie's Mum, whilst simultaneously distress for the angst and mental health troubles she is clearly facing. All the while the friendship between Chrissie and her best friend stays strong and there are some real laugh out loud moments despite its incredible delicate topic. 

This book is emotional, at times triggering and a challenging read, yet you can't help but get drawn in. I became fully invested in the story and found myself rooting for Julia to have the second chance - something which I would never expect to feel as a Mother myself.

This one will stay with me for a while!
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A child murderer is a topic you may not want to broach yet this book deals with it in such a pacy, well written way- my heart was wrenched and I felt on the edge of my seat through the twists and turns. A fantastic thriller.
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Oh my goodness.  There is nothing - NOTHING - I can say to describe how absolutely bloody brilliant this book is.  I would just urge you to read it, and defy you not to feel nothing but compassion for Chrissie who is 8 years old for God's sake, and living the sort of life no child should ever have to live.  I could quite cheerfully have swung for her utterly appalling Mammy, from whom Chrissie wants nothing but love, food and a place that feels like home.  Her Da, constantly coming and going from Chrissie's life is no better.  So when Chrissie kills a little boy; and let's remind ourselves again - SHE IS 8 YEAR's OLD! - my heart just sank.  As well as Chrissie, the book is narrated by Julia, who is Chrissie as an adult living with a new identity and with a daughter of her own.  The two stories run in glorious parallel and I was 10% rooting for Julia.  It's a wonderful book and if I could give it 1oo stars I would.
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The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker
This book has a shocking opening beginning with the murder of a young toddler by 8 year old Chrissie.  The story then proceeds with the story of Chrissie 20 years later (Now called Julia.) and 8 year old Chrissie .  It details the terrible home life to which Chrissie is subjected.  The book also conveys the wonderful relationship between Chrissie and her only friend,Linda.
It is a sensitive book which deals with a terrible subject without sensationalising it.  It is a heart breaking book and you also feel compelled to read on.  The book is very well written and although I would recommend it to some readers I think others would find the issues impossible to read about however sympathetically conveyed.  I am pleased to have read the novel and wish the author every success with this challenging novel.
I would like to thank the author, the publishers and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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My thoughts 📚📚📚

Anyone who follows my review will know I’m a sucker for dark fiction and as soon as I read the first chilling line of The First Day Of Spring “I killed a little boy today”, I realised it was going to be a shocking read. It’s much more than a story about a child killer, it’s a tale of resilience, nature vs. nurture, and the human capacity to forgive.

This is Nancy Tucker’s debut novel, and she has bravely tackled a very distressing subject. The book follows the story of Chrissie who at eight years old murders a young boy. The story is harrowing, and uncomfortable, but it’s also extraordinary, as the author has created a character that arouses strong emotions in the reader. 

I disliked Chrissie from the off. But as you learn more about her abusive childhood, here lies a child who has never known the love of a parent,  and learns from an early age that’s she’s clearly unwanted. We see a child who craves attention, any attention is better than being ignored! Chrissie’s eight-year-old voice is authentic, it’s chilling, and disturbing and filled with emotion, and yet there is a gentle humour found amidst the despair that lightens the read.

The author’s portrayal of Chrissie is brutally honest. As the reader I found my emotions all over the place, one minute I was angry, the next my heart was breaking for the broken, unloved, and neglected Chrissie. Don’t think for a minute the author attempts to justify Chrissie’s actions. This isn’t the case as she explores what compels a child to commit such a loathsome crime. 

The narrative is told from Chrissie’s viewpoint during/after the murder and some years later when she’s released and given a new identity. As she settles into her new life, she gives birth to daughter Mollie. Theirs isn’t the easiest relationship, as Chrissie has never experienced the love of a wonderful family, she isn’t sure how to be a mother and doubts her parenting skills at every stage of Mollie’s development.

This isn’t a fast-paced read by any means, it’s a disturbing, bleak, hard-hitting character driven novel that has to be one of the most compelling book I’ve read this year. The author has written a book that handles the most distressing topic with a great deal of sensitivity. As for the characters they are simply astounding. Chrissie’s story is one that will stay imprinted on my heart for along time to come. Highly recommend.
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This was an outstanding book and at times a very difficult read. It is the interesting, incredible and terribly sad story of 8 year old Chrissie, neglected by her mother, abandoned by her father and let down by those who should be caring for her. It is told over a dual timeline, with Chrissie at 8 and then as her new identity Julia, the name Chrissie is given after she serves time for killing another child. 

The power of this story is set out at the outset, with the first words and actions vividly describing how Chrissie lures a small boy and tortures him to death. As we hear the take unfold of neglect and poverty we discover what has brought Chrissie to this place and how she becomes the adult Julia, going on to have a daughter of her own.

Chrissie and then Julia have only one friend, Linda, who from start to finish is loyal and tries to make life a little better for Chrissie, giving her food and friendship.

It is a moving read and although Chrissie is a child murderer you peel back the layers of her intricate soul to see how damaged and desperate for attention and nurture that has made her who and what she is.

I would highly recommend this book and although the theme is and can be disturbing it is so well crafted you believe the characters are real and even Chrissie makes you want to give her the chances she was denied.

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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In the first two chapters of this book we find out who did what and where they are now. For a book classed as a mystery / thriller there is a singular lack of either. The remainder of the book joggles between then and now filling in the detail. That detail does include some important and uneasy to read subjects but essentially does not alter the fact that you know more that you have yet to discover.
Whilst i could feel compassion for the MC and, indeed many of the other characters living lives which are essentially drear, and full of things which prevent anything changing any time soon I could not find my way into anything more than that. 

It is hard to say the writing is good when the author fails to create any sort of tension or mystery but at the same time it does have some merit. The opening chapter captures the intensity of our MC's feelings as well as the misunderstandings of an 8 year old's mind
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This is a powerful story of eight year old Chrissie, severely neglected by her parents and rejected by her peers. Chrissie has killed a little local boy and enjoyed it. Reminiscent of the story of Mary Bell we examine her motives, her feelings and her understanding of the world. She expects him to come back.  The parallel story of Julia, Chrissie's new adult identity and her little girl Molly is touching as she struggles to find motherhood a natural experience and yearns still for her mother and her childhood friends.
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The story is about a little girl called Chrissie who lives with her mammy in a poverty stricken but close-knit community. Her dad comes and goes and Chrissie is led to believe that when he goes he is dead, so sometimes he is ‘dead’ for longer periods than others. Chrissie is neglected, unloved and unwanted by both parents and it is heartbreakingly painful to read about the things that go through the mind of this little girl. At first I was horrified by what she did (the very first sentence of this book really pulls a punch and hooks you in!) but as we learn more about Chrissie’s life we can see that although she is very streetwise in many ways she is also extremely naive in others. I ended up really empathising with her, wanting to sate the hunger she had, not just for food but for love, care and attention. As a child of 8, she was let down by her parents, her teachers and her community. It is obvious that her behaviours and actions were a response to her feelings and emotions and this raises the issue of nature versus nurture. 

Although a dark and harrowing read, I found myself addicted from the first sentence and Chrissie will stay with me for some time.

Review left on Amazon and Goodreads
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Chrissie is only 8 years old when she kills a little boy. The feeling she gets from it leaves her feeling happy and fizzy. Plus nobody really dies and they come back eventually, don't they? She gets no real love or attention from home. Now years later she is a mum herself and trying to figure out how to live her life. 

This was a bit of a strange read. You instantly don't like Chrissie and yet you feel a little sorry for her because of what she goes through. It confuses you to like her given the crimes she commits and yet by the end of the book, I had started to warm to her a little. The story jumps from when she was 8 to present day and continues through as the story develops. The plots itself is very slow but it fits with the story. The ending is interesting and again goes with the flow of the story. An interesting read.
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The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

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Thank you to @netgalley and @randomhouse for my ebook ARC of this debut novel by Nancy Tucker. What a spine tingling book this is!

I will start this review off by saying this book will not be for everyone. The opening line makes this very clear as we immediately read the POV of Chrissie, an eight year old girl, who has killed a two year old boy called Steven. I started this without having any knowledge of the plot and I did wonder whether I'd be able to finish. This is a hard read, but I think as the story progresses we read more of Chrissie's life story and we are suddenly aware of the poverty and the lack of care in her own life. Her mother is hardly there at all, forgets to feed Chrissie and just is ill equipped herself to raise a child. We follow Julia's POV, Chrissie as an older woman now, who has had to change her name several times. She raises her own daughter Molly and goes back to visit her childhood friend Linda and her mother.

This is a beautiful novel about such a difficult subject. I ended up chatting with my husband about it quite a bit, really not sure where my loyalties lie, realising there is a reason for every crime and that justice is never clear cut. Chrissie is punished for her crime but the prison system feels more like a home than her own had been. Some would feel her time was not enough for what she did to those parents. It brings about the reason for punishment at all. At the same time the crime is so horrific there will be those that can never forgive and definitely not forget.

I think the mark of an excellent novel is to be led out of our comfort zone, to really think about our role in society, to be led to the voice of a very different character to our own and come to accept them. There is beauty in this book that I would never have guessed at reading the first few chapters. I cried when reading this but shockingly, not for the murder, but for the forgiveness and the friendship between Chrissie now Julia and Linda.

TWs: child death, child poverty.
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This is not an easy book to read but it is easy to lose yourself in the raw beauty of an impoverished life, where neglect and abandonment create a childhood of hunger, despair and delusion for Chrissie. She kids herself she is loved and cared for whilst having to survive by herself, reliant on her creativity and breaking of rules to get enough to eat and drink and to stay out of harm's way. The shocking thing is, she is only 8. Her Mum couldn't care less and at school and in the wider community no-one seems to be troubled by Chrissie's life. And then something unexpected happens.
Julia is a single mother looking after her daughter Molly, but lonely, socially isolated and afraid. An accident resulting in a broken wrist is the catalyst for bringing together the past and the present, fusing together the pain and dark secrets of lives which are broken, tormented and strewn with the windfall of trauma.
Yet this book is not depressing. Yes, the subject matter is dark and disturbing but Nancy Tucker manages to write in a way that is poignant and beautiful, poetic and full of unspoken understanding. It is deep and wide with emotion, powerful and not easy to put down.
It is a story which grips you, fills you with sadness but makes you wonder whether there can be redemption, forgiveness and a way to carry on even when the rest of the world believes you should be forced to stop. And if there is, what does that look like and how do you allow yourself to live that new life?
I will not forget The First Day of Spring in a hurry and feel privileged to have been able to read this strikingly haunting debut novel. Thanks to the author, publisher, Pigeonhole and Netgalley for the opportunity to read in exchange for my review.
A book to devour and discuss.
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This was such a good read - Chrissie was neglected as a child and we learn about her life going backwards and forwards in time.  I can’t say much else as I don’t want to spoil it for you all. 

It is written really well and had me thinking about poor Chrissie when I wasn’t reading about her!  I really enjoyed reading this.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Edited to say I have now given this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ As I can’t stop thinking about it.
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Wow! What a disturbing book which I know I will cogitate and reflect on for a  very long time. My heart breaks for Chrissie - her life as a child was so tough. How can it excuse her actions and behaviour; yet, how can she be punished for decisions that were clearly ill-informed and a cry for help? How did no-one outside her home life see what was right before their eyes? After her actions as a child, does Chrissie deserve a future and a different life? 

Interwoven with Chrissie's haunting story is another from an older character called Julia who is trying to be the best mother possible but is frozen by a lack of misinformation and support.

I really cannot say too  much without spoiling this book, but it is definitely one that everyone should read. Is forgiveness and redemption possible when no-one is prepared to help. Chrissie is abused, neglected and let-down by all around her. As a character she is spiky and feisty: a survivor. Julia is the antithesis: a victim frozen by her inability to comprehend.

This book is so well written. I love Tucker's ability to write like a child: envy, fear, hunger, poser all manifesting themselves physically in Chrissie. I felt that Chrissie's response to her situation was powerful and true. The difference between a house and a home and what home comes to mean for Chrissie. What being a good parent looks like from her perspective. 

You will be horrified and terrified by the prospects suggested in this book. Chrissie never stood a chance and I felt immense sympathy for her and the situation throughout. Read this book: you will forever see the world differently.
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The First Day of Spring is an excellent novel with a very strong child's voice that draws you in from the beginning. 

Eight year old Chrissie has killed a child. That is no spoiler, we learn this immediately. But what leads a child to kill another, weaker, younger child is a question we ask ourselves whenever a tragedy like this occurs in real life. 

Chrissie has grown up unloved, neglected, and misunderstood both at home, school and within her community, but does this really explain her behaviour? Alternating between her childhood and now as an adult with a five year old daughter, Molly, Chrissie has changed identities and become Julia, but she has no idea how to parent and feels Molly needs protection. 

A heartbreaking tale but beautifully written, delving deep into the believable characters. Highly recommended.Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for the opportunity to read The First Day Of Spring.
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Not a book for the faint hearted with its troubling subject matter.
I nearly gave up after the first few pages but decided to press on.
Child murder by another child was never going to have a happy ending, I found little   to enjoy in this reading experience and in truth wished I hadn’t continued.
I was sympathetic towards Chrissie, the young girl whose circumstances lead her to commit a terrible crime but could not excuse her actions.
A difficult read
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Mean and vicious Chrissie, just eight years old, has killed a child. Twenty years later with a new identity she is running from her crime. Can she protect her own child? Frighteningly uncomfortable but outstandingly written.
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“They promised me no one would ever find out that Julia had once been Chrissie. …. Promise was just a word and a name was just a name and I wasn’t Chrissie, not inside, not any more, but the vultures didn’t care about that.” 

My thanks to Random House U.K./Cornerstone for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The First Day of Spring’ by Nancy Tucker in exchange for an honest review.

I also took the opportunity to take part in a group read organised by The Pigeonhole. As the subject matter of this novel is very disturbing, it was helpful to have others to share thoughts with. 

This is undoubtedly a powerful novel that considers the inner life of a fictional child murderer as well as her life as an adult. It seems likely that elements of the story were inspired by the case of Mary Bell, who at the age of eleven killed two small boys in Newcastle,1968. Tucker has made her killer, Chrissie, even younger at only eight. 

The novel is split between two first-person narrative streams. The first is Chrissie who advises us “I killed a little boy today.” The second takes place some years after her release from incarceration at eighteen. She now lives with her young daughter, Molly, under the State protected identity of Julia. She feels that the people in charge had “thrown me into a life I hadn’t expected to have to live, in a world I hadn’t expected to have to understand.”

This was a heartbreaking novel that focuses upon the various factors that led Chrissie to commit these terrible crimes. Her mother is uncaring and her father barely present. She is seriously neglected, starved of both food and affection. As a result she is feral. Even her teachers see her as a disruptive element rather than a child in serious need of intervention. One of the local mammies (Mums) calls her a ‘bad seed’; a description that Chrissie embraces.

As a result of her early life the emotional scars that the adult Julia bears are very obvious. As she never was nurtured, she now struggles with motherhood and seeks to understand her younger self. She also constantly worries that social services will take Molly away from her. The contrast between Julia and Chrissie’s Mam is very marked. 

My review copy opened with a letter from the author to her readers in which she addresses her decision to write about a child murderer. She writes: ‘Media reporting can be slanted towards blame and condemnation, but I hope this book will encourage readers to think harder about the circumstances that lead people to do unthinkable things. I hope it also asks important questions about resilience, nurture and the human capacity for forgiveness.”

Despite its dark subject matter there are lighter moments in the novel. Chrissie often comes out with outrageous comebacks, displaying a keen intelligence and quick wit.

Overall, I felt that ‘The First Day of Spring’ was an extraordinary novel, unlike anything I have ever read before. Nancy Tucker’s portrayal of Chrissie/Julia was compassionate and multi-layered. 

Highly recommended.
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