The First Day of Spring

Narrated by Kristin Atherton
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Pub Date 24 Jun 2021 | Archive Date 25 Jun 2021

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'Tense, addictive and powered by an unforgettable narrative voice.' PAULA HAWKINS

'A darkly dazzling debut, a harrowing story of neglect and cruelty written with a delicate touch and a big heart. As gripping as the tensest of thrillers and as moving and humane as the most intimate of memoirs.' LISA JEWELL

'An exceptional debut which both chilled and moved me from the very first page. I cannot overstate how much I loved this book.' CLARE MACKINTOSH
'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?
'The First Day of Spring is Nancy Tucker's first work of fiction and MY GOD this is OUTSTANDING.... 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' TRACY FENTON

'A gripping, unsettling debut novel ... By the end of the novel, the voices of Chrissie and Julia reside deep in your skull: visceral and wicked, sad and wonderful, all at the same time.' ABIGAIL DEAN

'The First Day Of Spring is a gut-wrenching tale about the effects of neglect and loneliness on a child. Eight-year-old Chrissie's voice is so raw and authentic that I could not stop turning the pages, desperate to find out what she would do next. A harrowing, incisive debut.'
STEPHANIE WROBEL, author of The Recovery of Rose Gold

'Chilling, thought-provoking, and compulsively readable, The First Day of Spring is a novel that will break your heart on every page and never leave you. I loved it.' ASHLEY AUDRAIN, author of The Push

'Tucker wastes no time grabbing the reader in her chilling debut novel ... a riveting thriller in every sense, but Tucker is asking big questions, too. Can society forgive the unforgivable? Does everyone deserve a second chance? She forces us to reconsider the perils of poverty and neglect. A chilling suspense novel about guilt, responsibility, and redemption.' KIRKUS

'A spectacular fiction debut . . . The taut, meticulously observed narration mines the dangers that childhood trauma causes. Fans of Lisa Jewell and smart psychological suspense will eagerly await Tucker's next.' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

'This sharp-edged and highly discussable book is difficult to put down.' BOOKLIST

'Exquisite ... You won't be able to stop looking - or reading, for that matter.' B&N READS

'A stunning debut... Suspenseful? You bet. Heart-rending? From beginning to end.' WASHINGTON POST

'Stylish, cunning ... Tucker follows one woman's reckoning with the quarantines of her childhood, seeking love amid dark secrets hiding in the nooks and crannies of all our lives.' OPRAH DAILY

'Tense, addictive and powered by an unforgettable narrative voice.' PAULA HAWKINS

'A darkly dazzling debut, a harrowing story of neglect and cruelty written with a delicate...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format, Unabridged
ISBN 9781473592711
PRICE £10.83 (GBP)
DURATION 11 Hours, 28 Minutes

Average rating from 28 members

Featured Reviews

**listened to the audio book, and read along with the e-book** The premise of this book is completely up my street! As a teacher, I'm always fascinated by children committing crime - especially murder. The psychology of a young person, and what makes them commit murder really intrigues me in fiction and non-fiction alike. Even though the premise was brilliant, I didn't overly enjoy this book. I found the pacing to be very slow - which I find annoying in a crime/thriller book. I didn't find this book as engrossing as other thrillers, and I found the audio book hard to listen to to as I wasn't keen on the narrator and the accent. I genuinely feel really gutted that I didn't like this book as it was a book I have been looking forward to reading since hearing about it last year! I just felt like so much was promised within the blurb, but actually so little happened within the book. The pacing was too slow, and I didn't like the writing style. It was OK - but just wasn't as good as I was hoping.

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The narrator did an excellent job, altering her voice slightly for each character without going over the top. The story itself is extremely sad. A tale of emotional abuse and the consequences that are so far reaching. Child Chrissy is not a likeable character. A jealous child who kills because she hates the attention given to another. However as the story unfolds you learn that she doesn’t realise death is forever as her father returned after she was told he was dead, as did Jesus. Chrissy is starved of food and attention and those that should have helped her didn’t. Later in the book adult Chrissy has a child and struggles to hold it together and be a mother. The fear is that she is following in her own mother’s footsteps, or perhaps continuing along her childhood path. I felt intensely sorry for child and adult Chrissy and so hoped for things to work out for her despite everything. I really loved this book.

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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? Great read and audiobook was an added bonus. Recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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To say The First Day of Spring is exceptional is an understatement. It’s extraordinary for a number of reasons; it’s a debut novel, it’s about a child killer for whom the reader feels empathy and the lyricism of the writing is in a class apart. The basic story is simple. Chrissie strangles a child. The narrative is from her viewpoint during and after the murder and some years later as Julie, when she’s released an adult with a new identity and a child of her own. Right from the start , I felt echoes of the Mary Bell case, an infamous child murderer from the north east who killed and was later allowed to start a new life with a new identity. It’s a fascinating moral dilemma about the nature of justice, redemption, retribution and much more. Nancy Tucker opens with an explanation about the voices and her background. As soon as you start reading or listening, you realise that each is very different. Chrissie is the child, living in abject poverty, unloved at home, disliked in school where she takes pleasure in being disruptive and spiteful. She’s hard, cruel and the world as seen through her eyes is graphic. Julie’s voice is more measured, but she’s fearful, haunted by the past and filled with insecurity. The two stories meld to perfection and this is a book filled with powerful imagery which makes it a pleasure to read. I have the book and audio version and the audio narration is superb. It brought everything to life and added to the depth of the characters. I can’t recommend this new voice enough; Nancy Tucker has hit the track running and there’ll be no stopping her. My thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley.

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The book is split between Chrissy as a child and 20 years later as a mother, as she comes to terms with her actions and the long term effects. year old Chrissie is older than her years, and yet incredibly emotionally stunted. She kills a child, but thinks that he will only be dead for a little while, having been told by her mother that her own father is dead, only for him to reappear when the whim takes him. The parental neglect that she experiences - being dragged to an adoption agency and left - amplifies the extreme poverty endures. There is never any food in the house, she sleeps in a piss soaked bed and has never experienced love or care. She has learned that everything has a price; whether that's a bite of meat pie in return for a hand in her knickers, or killing a child in order to feel a sense of power and agency. Whilst this in no way exonerates Chrissy for her crimes, it does illuminate reasons why the horrific murders occur. It's an uncomfortable listen as I was forced to confront my own conscious and unconscious biases and appreciate the privileged position I hold in society. I listed to the audible version of the book and the narration is superb. It is well-paced and the accents used really enhanced the superb characterisation of the children in the book. My thanks go to the publishers and NetGalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review.

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Wow. This was such a thought provoking, heartfelt read that I am struggling to do it justice. The premise intrigued me initially, but the execution was sublime. The reader is taken on a very dark and sad journey with Chrissie that tears through your heart and makes you question all your previous judgements and feelings about child killers. Should they get a new identity, a new life? What provokes them into murder in the first place? Chrissie's life is heart breaking and so painful to read. But you cannot help but want the best for her and to make something of herself and her future. The narrator of the audiobook was excellent, an engaging voice who portrayed the power and pain of the novel beautifully.

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This book was not at all what I was expecting it to be. It was pitched to me because I love Lisa Jewell and CL Taylor but this is a very different thriller. Do make sure you read the synopsis thoroughly because this book comes with a lot of care warnings for neglect, abuse and infant death. I think I probably accessed this book on quite a different level because I have always worked with children and I am a teacher and so I found this book really tough to listen to at times. I think that the narrator did a great job although this book takes place in the north east of England and the narration reflects that. Being a northerner myself I thought the narration was great but I know its not always the most popular accent. This book really exposes what can happen when a child is not shown love and care early on in life. Although the synopsis mentions lack of money really it is the lack of care that is at the centre of this book and I think it was a really brave thing for the author to tackle. The book also tackles issues surrounding mental health particularly when you don't have the privilege of disposable income to help with the care that your mental health requires. I love that this is shown to be an issue in this book. We always highlight the importance of taking care of your mental health and seeking help when appropriate but we don't always have the time or the money to put towards that and that is fully explored in this novel. The way this book is structured does make for a very compelling read. We meet Chrissie and we meet Julia and we pretty quickly learn of their connection but we jump back and forth between their two worlds and this is very much a dual narrative and dual time line novel. I love that structure in a book because it does make you keep listening to find out what will happen to each character next and what impact that might have on the other. This was definitely a tough read and I did feel an almost physical pain for Chrissie at many moments throughout this book but I love what this author has done in terms of taking risks to tackle subjects that not a lot of people talk about. Definitely read through the synopsis before picking this one up but if you are OK with the care warnings then I definitely recommend giving this a read.

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Firstly thank you to Net Galley for granting me this book in return for an honest review. I absolutely loved this book and to be honest the Narrator made it even more enjoyable . I could not stop listening and feel it was better than actually reading it - the storyline was compulsive, sad, heart wrenching and funny in parts. I felt the audio book delivered such heartfelt emotions and really made me understand how some people’s childhoods can affect their lives forever. Beautifully written and narrated.

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I’d like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Random House UK and Hope Butler for approving me for an ARC of this book. This is the third book I’ve listened to, narrated by Kristin Atherton and yet again she has done an amazing job. I hold my hands up to her brilliant ability to narrate children’s voices and quite often I forgot that she was the sole story teller. The story is told from two POV. Firstly we have eight year old Chrissie’s story where we are thrown straight into the drama and turmoil of her committing a deeply disturbing crime. Listening to those early chapters were very difficult and hard to comprehend but as Chrissie’s story progresses and the events unfold we learn more about her. Nancy Tucker did a fantastic job or portraying the dark side of Chrissie but she also gave her a comical side. I often found myself laughing at her no nonsense honesty and I had nothing but sympathy as I started to learn her backstory. Being a mother myself I can not imagine treating any of my children how Chrissie was treated. Skip twenty years on and we have the second POV, Julia. This is Chrissie with her new identity and in this point of her life we see her as a mum to lovely Molly. As Julia’s chapters started to develop it was hard to match this version of Chrissie to her child self. This Chrissie was far less confident, constantly anxious and always looking over her shoulder. What I noticed above all though was how much love she had for Molly but was scared to show it. Her actions throughout the story showed the lengths she would go to protect Molly and the final scenes left me feeling oddly proud of Julia and wanting her to succeed. Nancy Tucker has written something very dark, harrowing and twisted that will make readers question their views on young offenders. Should someone forever be judged based on their past? She took Chrissie the ‘bad seed’ and shown us readers her really personality, her tortured background and the love she was unjustly denied. We’ve been given a glimpse of what life is like for child offenders who reach adult life and show remorse for their actions. This will not be an easy listen or read for some but it’s an important one. It asks us to think twice before we jump on the band wagon of denying someone forgiveness and perhaps ask ourselves could we of done more?

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‘The first day of spring’ was my first encounter with the work of author Nancy Tucker, and I found I did enjoy this audio book very much, despite it being a departure from my usual psychological fiction genre. This is a book I would class under ‘women’s fiction’, ‘general fiction’ or ‘literary fiction’. The story was was very well narrated by Kristen Atherton, who conveyed the solemnity of the book very effectively. The plot focuses on some fairly disturbing themes. We are introduced to Julia, a young mum, for whom life seems hard and regimented. She is bringing up daughter Molly single-handedly, and seems very anxious to do a good job of this. Her life feels very bleak and joyless. One day Molly injures herself, and Julia is fearful of the consequences., which slowly unfold as the story progresses. A second timeline tells the story of Julia's upbringing, at a time when she had a different name and different identity. Under her birth name of Chrissy, we learn of a very sobering and tragic tale, in many ways a cautionary tale of how important our early lives and upbringings. Though this tale is serious and sobering, it is also compulsive listening, and very well written. The narrator manages is to convey the solemnity of the tale well while still making this all about the storytelling. Overall I would highly recommend this audiobook to fans of the aforementioned genres. My thanks to NetGalley , author and publisher for the opportunity to review this audio book in exchange for an honest review.

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The highest compliment I can give this book is that it made me cry. I can count on one hand the number of books that made me cry and that's including this so for me, any book that can make me cry is automatically one I really enjoyed reading. The actual review - we're following Chrissy and Julia in this 'thriller' across two timelines. I don't know how much I would consider this a thriller considering that the book opens with the murder of Stephen but regardless of this, Tucker explores an interesting premise and character. I would probably recommend going into this, not expecting it to be a fast-paced thriller but a slow-paced character focused read instead. I didn't think Chrissy was the most likeable character and struggled a little to get into this at first but with how Tucker structures her book, the things we learn about Chrissy as we go ahead, I ended up really caring for her and this was honestly, so heartbreaking to read. I feel like Tucker's presentation of Julia (adult Chrissy) in particular was well done because we get to see the impact of the past and how it's affected her. This isn't a read I will be forgetting soon and I would definitely recommend this.

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Chrissie is only 8 years old. But her parents neglect has left her self reliant, bolshy and at times almost feral....and now she has a secret, one that gives her power over the adults who look down at her for always been hungry and dirty. She's killed a little boy, right under their noses.... Julia is 28, a mother who does all she can to feed and clothe her daughter Mollie. But she lives in constant fear of been discovered for who she once was, of Molly been taken away..... An emotional read, the writer somehow manages to get us to loathe and pity Chrissie in equal measures. Julia's guilt and fear is palpable in every sentence. I found myself close to tears several times. I received the audio version of this from Netgalley, the narrator Kristin Atherton acts out every part excellently....sometimes a little too well though! Her rendition of a toddler who shouted all the time was a bit too good and had me reaching for the ibuprofen. It was like been back at soft play again! An excellent debut that stands out from other psychological novels.

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I really loved this audiobook! In this psychological thriller we follow Chrissie, a young girl who has just killed a little boy; and Julia, the new identity that Chrissie has been given 20-years later as she navigates adulthood as a single mother. The depth to this book was stunning, and the writing style so intriguing. It really digs into the impact of parents upon their children, particularly mothers; the impact of incarceration of children and how they deal with returning back into the world. Jumping between the two time periods allows us to uncover what has happened bit by bit, and get to understand Chrissie better, but it never felt too slow or lost my interest. Very interested to read more from Nancy Tucker.

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Wow! Where to even start with this one. I was simply obsessed with The First Day of Spring. Every single part of this audiobook pleased me, the narration was amazing, the characters deep and interesting, the locations I could picture as if I was there. It’s hard to hate Chrissy, I knew I should have a deep loathing for her but I couldn’t help but warm to her as the book progressed. That’s what is so clever about this book, Nancy Tucker is a really clever writer- she clearly understands people and that really shows. Life isn’t always just black and white, sometimes things get muddled so why should a novel and a character not be exactly the same. There where parts of this book where I was horrified and not always by the obvious. A truly gripping read that I can’t wait to see everybody rave about as much as I have.

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I’m afraid that once I start with the praise for this book I won’t be able to stop so I’m keeping a tight rein on myself. The narrator did a wonderful job which added to my enjoyment and the choice of narrator can make a huge difference. The story is fascinating, chilling, amusing and for me totally un-put-downable. I loved it from the first page to the last with not a single point where I lost my enthrall ( I know that’s not a noun but it fits what I want to say). Nancy Tucker has a strange magical skill for making you sure the book just has to be based on her own experiences whilst knowing it can’t be. Shades of Shuggie Bain which I also loved. I greatly admire a writer who can make me completely believe i am hearing/reading the words of a child. I hope this book is a huge hit and I won’t stop recommending it as often as I can.

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Phooey. Where do I start? I feel mixed up like I’ve something wrong with me! This is one disturbing book. The first sentence I was WHAT! A quarter of the way through I was OH MY GOODNESS POOR LITTLE LOVE ( now that disturbed me) as I’ve got sympathy, understanding and raw empathy with this child who killed someone then as an adult whose hiding this secret. This is a debut like no other in this subject matter that’s thrown me in circles and bashed me head first into a wall. My thoughts were all over the place. Childhood is precious. Yes I know it’s fiction, but could just as easily be fact. Nancy Tucker is someone I’m keeping my eye on for future books. I love books that impacts and this certainly did. The audio is good. Listen to it on normal speed though for full effect.

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