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The First Day of Spring

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"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."

Meet Chrissie...

Chrissie is eight and she has a secret: she has just killed a boy. The feeling made her belly fizz like soda pop. Her playmates are tearful and their mothers are terrified, keeping them locked indoors. But Chrissie rules the roost -- she's the best at wall-walking, she knows how to get free candy, and now she has a feeling of power that she never gets at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

Twenty years later, adult Chrissie is living in hiding under a changed name. A single mother, all she wants is for her daughter to have the childhood she herself was denied. That's why the threatening phone calls are so terrifying. People are looking for them, the past is catching up, and Chrissie fears losing the only thing in this world she cares about, her child.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published May 18, 2021

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Nancy Tucker

7 books209 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,305 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,328 reviews7,102 followers
June 3, 2021
Wow! How on earth can I do justice to this excellent novel? I honestly don’t know that I can, but here goes anyway.

8 year old Chrissie isn’t like most other kids, she’s mean, vicious, and extremely devious, and furthermore, she killed a little boy today!

To give a sense of what makes Chrissie tick, we have to look no further than home - she has an awful home life - a mostly absent father, feckless at best, who turns up intermittently after long intervals, but he doesn’t care about Chrissie (although she convinces herself that he does). Her mother shows no love for her daughter whatsoever, quite the opposite, she doesn’t even provide her with the basic necessities that make a good and loving mother. The cupboards are always bare, meaning Chrissie has to scrounge for food, or rely on invitations from ‘friends’ mothers to stay for meals, and if they don’t invite her, she invites herself, pushes her way into their homes, she feels no embarrassment - hunger sees to that. I actually use the term ‘friends’ lightly too, as nobody really likes her, because she’s so mean and scary, other than perhaps Linda, Chrissie likes Linda the best, though she still kicks, bullies, and belittles her. Chrissie just loves to have power over others - intimidation is the name of the game.

20 years later, after spending time detained in a Secure Children’s Home, Chrissie is living with a new identity and calling herself Julia. She now has a daughter, Molly, but when she starts receiving phone calls that could reveal her past, her worst fears of having Molly taken away from her may be about to be realised, and she feels real fear - possibly for the first time in her life.

Told in turn by 8 year old Chrissie, and 28 year old Julia, this is a stunning read. Though the subject matter is very dark and disturbing, there is also humour in the dialogue, as Chrissie is so outspoken with absolutely no filter, it makes no difference whether she’s talking to other kids or adults, they’re all treated with the same irreverence!

Along with the gripping storyline, the author has drawn such a vivid and chilling characterisation 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.

* Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for an ARC in exchange for an honest unbiased review *
Profile Image for Michael David (on hiatus).
618 reviews1,486 followers
May 25, 2021
“I killed a little boy today.”

That’s the first sentence of this book, and what a way to grab attention.

8-year old Chrissie has, in fact, just killed a little boy, and it made her feel wonderful. While the townspeople are in an emotional uproar, wondering who could do something like that, Chrissie goes about her days flinging insults and treating her friends like utter crap. She loves to feel powerful. Knowledge is power, and she is the only with the knowledge of what she’s done...until others find out.

20 years later, Chrissie is living as Julia after spending years in a juvenile home. She’s changed her identity, and is a single mother to her young daughter, Molly. She tries to do right by her daughter. Nevertheless, when Chrissie/Julia feels like the past is catching up to her present, she is terrified to lose the one person she loves.

I wasn’t sure what to think of this when I started reading it. I hated Chrissie with a passion, and couldn’t imagine how anyone could sympathize with her.

However, the more I read, the more devastating I realized things were in both the past and present. This is a dark and uncomfortable book that takes a raw look at child neglect, emotional and physical abuse, trauma, and facing the consequences.

It’s also outstandingly written with unflinching honesty by Nancy Tucker, in her fiction debut. She doesn’t mince words, and the prose is always gripping and compelling. She also writes with care.

Such a heartbreaking and powerful psychological drama that will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend.

4.5 stars

Thank you to Riverhead Books for sending me a finished copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Now available.

Review also posted at: https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,912 reviews1,440 followers
April 11, 2021
This is an incredibly powerful psychological novel which examines what compels a child to commit a heinous crime. This is the story of Chrissie aged 8 and twenty years on as Julia with a child of her own, it is told in a dual narrative.

Wow. I’m struggling to process what I’ve just read. This could have been sensationalised, it isn’t, it’s sensitive but equally it confronts exactly what Chrissie does which is a clever balance to achieve. It’s a book that will stay with me for a long time, in fact, it’s probably unforgettable. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, utterly compelling, a real punch to the guts, it tears you apart in places with the enormity of the tragedy. It’s impossible to put down, it’s so tense at times you scarcely breathe so as not to break the moment, there’s suspense on many occasions as you feel Chrissie’s frustration as she just wants to be seen not be a ‘bad seed’. It’s a very complex, complicated and very moving novel as you emotionally wrestle with many things, not just nature over nurture. Chrissie’s home life is something to ponder on and there are a multitude of thoughts raised from sadness and sorrow to the disturbing nature of what occurs. Chrissie is direct and can be very funny in her bluntness and she usually calls it right. The author has cleverly created a very authentic eight year old voice and she places you inside Chrissie’s head in order to try to understand her. The book is so well written, it flows effortlessly from Chrissie to Julia. My heart goes out to her as an adult as you perceive how much she loves her daughter Molly, that she is Julia’s opportunity for survival, for regrowth like the First Day of Spring. The character of Linda is worth a mention as she is Chrissie’s truest and probably only friend, she has an absolute heart of gold which you witness in adulthood.

Overall, an incredible book which is extremely moving and which handles a disturbing theme with delicacy and thoughtfulness.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Hutchinson for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tina.
495 reviews770 followers
June 13, 2021
WOW! For this DEBUT novel

What can I say that hasn't already been said? This is a dark and gripping novel beautifully written in past and present form as Chrissie and Julia.

The first line is shocking and ever so disturbing!!

This novel is about childhood neglect and the ramifications. A dark and totally heartbreaking story 💔

I listened to the Audiobook and I fully recommend you go this route if you enjoy audios. The narrator's tone and inflection and pauses are point on.

A glowing 5 stars 🌟
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,543 reviews24.6k followers
December 4, 2021
This is a chillingly unsettling debut from Nancy Tucker, packing a powerful emotional punch, a psychological drama sensitively depicting what is viewed by society as the most unforgiveable and horrifying of crimes. 8 year old Chrissie has the most shocking of secrets, she has killed a 2 year old boy, strangling him, feeling a sense of excitement. Years later, there is Julia, an insecure single mother, who loves her young daughter, Molly, worrying about her capacity to provide a loving home and happy childhood, both of which she had no experience of in her early years. Julia lives in fear that Molly will be taken away from her by social services, she starts getting phone calls from someone who knows who she really is, as her past comes back to haunt her.

For Julia is Chrissie, having spent time in a children's home, released with a changed name back into the community, but is really possible for her to have left Chrissie behind? In a multilayered narrative we learn of Chrissie's background of poverty, neglect and abuse, a mother that had never wanted her, leaving her starving and ignored, and a father that flitted in and out of her life, who could not care less for her either. The nasty, desperately hungry, aggressive and attention seeking Chrissie is a liar, a thief and a bully, wanting power and all that is missing from her life, she even treats her friend Linda badly, she is frank, blunt, saying precisely what she is thinking without a second thought. She is disliked and feared by other children, and knows she is seen as a 'bad seed' by others.

The more we find out about Chrissie, the more we come to see and to understand how she came to be the way she is, she is let down by all those around her, by a society that should have intervened, a damning failure to provide the necessary timely help and support. In what is an emotive roller coaster of a read, Tucker depicts the circumstances in which the worst of crimes can take a place, the highlight for me is her skilful characterisation, Chrissie is such a memorable eye opening creation that feels all too real and authentic, someone I completely believed in. This is not a easy novel, but it is a thought provoking, dark and compulsive read, so intensely disturbing, about murder, poverty, family, friendships, trauma, hope and redemption. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.
April 21, 2022
The First Day of Spring is a compelling yet disturbing story that takes us into the darkest thoughts we could imagine. Nancy Tucker has written an unforgettable psychological drama that is a remarkable debut novel.

It is chilling to think of Chrissie, an eight-year-old girl, who opens the story with the line “I killed a little boy today.” What forcefully hits home is the lack of remorse and the clarity of thought as to what happened and how she behaved. It is incredibly unsettling to imagine a child making a conscious decision to kill another child, and that the act of murder made her feel like God and gave her a sense of excitement with a buzz in her stomach. Tick, tick, tick until she can do it again.
“‘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.’ “
Undoubtedly, we’re looking at a psychopath, and with the apparent lack of compassion, Nancy Tucker does a fantastic job of crafting the personality of Chrissie with her intelligent manipulative traits. She takes steps to remain close to the action, daring and unperturbed, discussing the murder with adults, the parents of the child, and police while concealing that she is the killer. Chrissie is a fascinating character, with her friends, at school, with adults and shockingly with her parents. Some minor level of empathy is possible when you consider the disdain her mother has always shown her and the physical state she characterises with lack of food, clothing and cleanliness. The interactions between the children were genuine, and the subtle ways Chrissie demonstrated her callous manipulative behaviour was superb.

Julie is twenty-eight years old and is a single parent with a young daughter, Molly. She worries about social services taking Molly away, especially when Molly broke her arm in a fall when Julie was beside her. Julie has a very nervous and uncertain outlook, fearful of being a parent and a neighbour. The reason for the apprehension and the social services monitoring of her child is unsurprising when you learn Julie is Chrissie twenty years later and after being released from Juvenile Detention. This second timeline works well for reflection, trying to establish a new life and new norm, and if you weren’t provided with the connection, you would believe these to be two very different people. My only issue with this story is the disbelief that the complete transformation of a psychopath can occur, when the tendencies from Chrissie feel part of her DNA.

The First Day of Spring is such a beautifully written book that captures the horrific mood surrounding the murder of a child. The writing conveys the scary environment where an unknown killer threatens the most vulnerable in the community and how adults and children react in this scenario. I couldn’t understand the stark difference between Chrissie and Julie’s personalities, causing me uncertainty about rating this book. I want to thank Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for providing a free ARC in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
475 reviews1,310 followers
August 15, 2021
I don’t know what’s more disturbing: a child so off kilter she becomes a murderer; or a mum who is such a bitch you don’t need to wonder why the kid is so messed up.

This is one twisted story.
I can honestly say, I was in this 8 year Old’s head and yes, what an awful place to be. A mother who starves her - literally and emotionally. No wonder their was an outcry from Chrissie in the way she behaved.

Tucker tackles a tough subject but navigates through it smoothly. The emotional pendulum swung from disgust, shame, desperation, hate; to friendship, love and a maturing of the soul.

I was stunned by this one. And while I can’t say it was fabulous, I can say honestly it was haunting and sad and this character will stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,928 reviews2,018 followers
February 28, 2022
EXCERPT: I killed a little boy today. Held my hands around his throat, felt his blood pump hard against my thumbs. He wriggled and kicked and one of his knees caught me in the belly, a sharp lasso of pain. I roared. I squeezed. Sweat made it slippy between our skins but I didn't let go, pressed and pressed until my nails were white. It was easier than I thought it would be.

ABOUT 'THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING': 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?

MY THOUGHTS: Inside Chrissie's head is a scary place to be. Probably the scariest place I've been. It's dark, disturbing and more than sad. An eight year old should be full of the joys of life. Chrissie is full of nothing, except rage. The word 'neglect' doesn't even begin to cover Chrissie's mother's treatment of her. She tries to give Chrissie away. Her dad keeps disappearing. The other children have two parents, they are cared for - fed, and clothed, and loved. Chrissie wants this for herself, all of it.

The book is narrated entirely from the point of view of Chrissie/Julia. Chrissie as the neglected and abused eight year old child and Julia as the mother she becomes. As Julia struggles to be the mother she wanted to have, her backstory as Chrissie is revealed.

One of the most emotionally stunning points in the book is when Chrissie reveals, 'Most people were scared of me, at least a little bit. Just how I liked it.' This is an eight year old child! She is vicious, spiteful, and violent. She lies. She just wants to be loved, but has no idea how to be. She has no moral compass, no role model. Tucker's portrayal of the child Chrissie puts the reader inside the mind of a seriously disturbed eight year old, accurately depicting an eight year old's emotions, naivety and thought processes. It is not a comfortable experience.

Adult Julia is a slave to routine, giving her and Molly's lives structure. But she lives with the guilt of what she did when she was Chrissie, and the fear that someone, one day, will take her own daughter away from her. After all, isn't that just what she deserves?

The First Day of Spring is a tense, addictive and harrowing read. There were times I felt physically sick at the neglect, the cruelty, the cries for help that went unanswered, and both Chrissie and Julia's loneliness. This is a book that pummels the emotions and makes no apologies for doing so. Chrissie the child horrifies and appalls; Julia the adult tugs at the heartstrings and embodies hope.

A thought provoking and ultimately satisfying read.


#TheFirstDayofSpring #NetGalley

I: @nancycntucker @randomhouseuk

T: @NancyCNTucker @RandomHouseUK

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #crime #mentalhealth

THE AUTHOR: Nancy Tucker was born and raised in West London. She spent most of her adolescence in and out of hospital suffering from anorexia nervosa. On leaving school, she wrote her first book, THE TIME IN BETWEEN (Icon, 2015) which explored her experience of eating disorders and recovery. Her second book, THAT WAS WHEN PEOPLE STARTED TO WORRY (Icon, 2018), looked more broadly at mental illness in young women.

Nancy recently graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Experimental Psychology. Since then she has worked in an inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents and in adult mental health services. She now works as an assistant psychologist in an adult eating disorders service. The First Day of Spring is her first work of fiction. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,694 reviews14.1k followers
August 2, 2021
Such a dark book, unsettling and though this subject, violence against children, is not something I usually read, I was drawn into this story. There is a horrible event but why it happened, what made a young girl do such a thing, is told in layers. So much more to the reasons than are at first apparent, much going on in this girl's life that though one cannot in any way condone what she has done, I could not help but feel for her. Starvation and it deleterious effects, lack of care, love and a condemnation at all those adults who looked away.

Told in two time frames, past and present, this book begs the questions of overcoming, success in a future life, forgiveness of self and if one can ever have a positive future. A hard story to read but a story that makes one think and one that needs to be read with understanding.

Reminded me of the darkness in the writing of Ruth Dugdall.

ARC from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Michelle .
862 reviews1,223 followers
June 14, 2021
Ahhh....The First Day of Spring. A lovely cover with pretty blue flowers. You might think this book is going to be a lighthearted read but you'd be wrong. Very wrong.

This book is dark. So very dark.

"I killed a little boy today. Held my hands around his throat, felt his blood pump hard against my thumbs. He wriggled and kicked and one of his knees caught me in the belly, a sharp lasso of pain. I roared. I squeezed. Sweat made it slippy between our skins but I didn’t let go, pressed and pressed until my nails were white. It was easier than I thought it would be."

And so begins Nancy Tuckers stunning debut novel. The person who makes the above statement is 8 year old Chrissie. Her Dad makes rare appearances in her life and her mother is one of the most neglectful I've read about. She rarely has food to eat, lives in ragged clothing, and is one angry and miserable little girl.

I'll be honest and say that I had a hard time empathizing with Chrissie no matter how terrible her upbringing was. She was vile and cruel to everyone around her and I really wanted to give her a good smack. Though I will say that throughout my reading of this novel my heart began to soften toward her. After spending a decade in a "home" she is now on her own two feet and she has a daughter Molly. She worries endlessly that she too is a terrible mom like hers was, she worries her daughter will turn out like her, a bad seed. What we actually witness though is a woman living in fear and trying her hardest to do right by her daughter. Her love for her daughter consumes her but she doesn't know how to express that love having never received any affection as a child but as the story goes on we see growth and hope and a chance at redemption. 4 stars!
Profile Image for Rosh [busy month; will catch up soon!].
1,361 reviews1,216 followers
July 11, 2021
“I killed a little boy today.”

When your book begins with this sentence, you know you have a dark journey ahead of you. After you have completed your double-take at that unexpected start, you try to get a clearer idea of the diabolical person giving you this first-person insight. The killer murdered the child willingly. Then walked out, very relaxed, in search of her friend, then went to the local park and played with her until the murder was discovered. She calmly joined the crowd and watched the distraught mother sobbing over her dead child.

What the heck is happening, you wonder. And soon the shocking detail is revealed...

The killer is an eight year girl named Chrissie. And in her narrative come tumbling out dark secrets and devastating revelations that leave you speechless.

In addition to Chrissie’s voice, the book also comes to us from the pov of Julia. Julia, who is in her late twenties, and mother to five year old Molly. Julia is constantly worried about providing a secure and loving home to her daughter, especially as she is a single mother. She doesn’t want to allow her past issues or lack of familial support to affect Molly’s life. But when she realises that there is someone waiting to take Molly away from her, she feels terrified and compelled to take a drastic action.

Julia is Chrissie, about 15-20 years later, under a new name and with a state-sponsored job for rehabilitated criminals.

When you discover a young child to be a killer, you wonder what kind of sick, twisted, weird book you have picked up. But will you be able to keep it aside? No way! I'm simultaneously horrified and awestruck as the story went on to reveal more and more of Chrissie’s shenanigans. Many of her thoughts and actions seem precocious for a typical eight year old. Then again, she's not a typical eight year old in any sense of the word. Nor is she blessed with the family environment that would help put her on right track. She’s a pathological liar, a thief, and a bully. She is also ignored by her parents, shunned by most of the neighbourhood children, insulted by her teachers, and perennially hungry. You feel torn between wanting to castigate her and feeling sorry for her.

At the same time, you also have to reconcile yourself to the fact that this same child has grown up to be Julia. And you wonder, should a child murderer be allowed to have a child? For how long should a crime be punished? What would you do if your child was murdered and you hear about the killer free and with a child after a few years? Don’t killers deserve a second chance? Do they? Too many questions, no simple answers.

It's very tough to accept that both these voices belong the same person. The dominant emotions in Chrissie's story are anger and aggression while in Julia's story, fear and insecurity reign supreme. It does seem unrealistic at times to see such a turnaround in a character. What makes it even more difficult to digest is that you are seeing both the voices simultaneously and alternately. So the constant change between seeing a dangerous Chrissie and a timid Julia takes time to put your head around.

Nancy Tucker has written a couple of non-fiction memoirs detailing her struggles with mental health issues. This is her first full-length fictional work and she uses her experience and education in experimental psychology to full advantage. She keeps the narrative compelling and the pace pretty fast. Her writing is simply brilliant; I was left zapped by the powerful emotions. And for the same reason, I couldn’t read this book at one stretch because Chrissie drained me out emotionally. After ages have I read a novel that was disturbing and heart-breaking at the same time.

The book isn’t flawless. There should have been a little more information provided about Chrissie’s family life. We know her Mom and Dad don’t want her but we never know why. We know they don’t stay together but there’s no reason revealed. Having some kind of a situational background would have helped us. (Then again, the narrative is from an 8 year old child’s perspective. So if she doesn’t know why her parents don’t stay together, we wouldn’t know either. So I suppose this is more of my wishful thinking than a writing fallacy.) My bigger grouse is with the ending. How I wish it were braver! Then again, debut work. Whatever she did with it was brave enough.

Overall, this is a book where the character stays in your head and messes with it big-time. This is one heck of a fictional debut and I would love to read more by this author. If you want to read a book with a messed-up lead character trying hard to make amends, this is the book for you. But remember, it’s very intense on the emotions and there are many triggering scenes. You will be left breathless and agitated. Caveat emptor!

Thank you, NetGalley and Cornerstone, for the ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.
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Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,129 reviews607 followers
January 26, 2022
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.

With thanks to Random House UK and Netgalley for a copy to read
Profile Image for Nina.
765 reviews154 followers
February 4, 2023
I felt emotionally drained and gutted after finishing this book. I will probably never be able to forget it, it was just a heart-stopping journey. I felt everything from sadness, disgust, shock and anger. And through it all, the overwhelming pain of a lost childhood. I am thoroughly impressed by Tucker, and will read everything she writes from now on.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,311 reviews658 followers
June 5, 2021
4.5 stars: This is a story with hang time; this is a story that will make you cry; this is a story that is sad, suspenseful, hopeful, and heart wrenching. I listened to the audio of “The First Day of Spring” and from the first minute, I was entranced. Narrator Kristin Atherton is amazing as she voices the two characters, Chrissie, and Julia.

The story begins in horror. Eight-year-old Chrissie has just strangled a toddler. Author Nancy Tucker writes Chrissie’s chapters perfectly in child-like vernacular. Even Chrissie’s observations are authentic. Through her chapters, we learn of her life as an emotionally abused, neglected, and unliked child. What made me sad, even more than her parental neglect is how the neighbor women treated her. I was sad because I’m not sure if I would have been much different from them. Chrissie, due to her circumstances, is brash, rude, loud, aggressive, and at times cruel. From the outside, she is very unlikable, and I can understand other mothers not wanting their children to play with her. I reflect and wonder if I did the same thing to another kid just like Chrissie.

The other chapters are narrated by Julia, who now has a six-year-old Molly. Julia is grown-up Chrissie who had her named changed after her sentence for the murder. Chrissie went to a “home” for dangerous children, since prison is not place for an eight-year-old. Julia wants to be a good mother but doesn’t know how. She reads childrearing books and gets help from social workers. Her chapters, reflecting on her life, and her insecurities of being a mother, also brought tears to my eyes. Her adult guilt at what she did as an eight-year-old is crushing.

The story slowly unravels Chrissie’s life from when she strangles a neighbor boy to her life in the children’s home. In alternating chapters, we learn of adult Chrissie navigating life as a single mom while her own nagging guilt presses down on her every moment. Every single imperfect thing she does brings worry that social services will take away her child. Adult Chrissie, aka Julia, wants and expects herself to be perfect and lives in fear all the time that she is not good enough. This is billed as suspense, and it is. For as we follow Chrissie through that fateful year of her life, we wonder how it ends: how does she get caught. And as Julia manages her life with Molly, we wonder if she will be able to keep her because Julia has convinced even the reader that social services are a half a step away from taking Molly.

This is an amazing story that brings the reader to contemplate our own role in society. What is our responsibility to those who live in poverty and neglect? Can we forgive a criminal whose acts were decades ago? At what point do we realize people can and some do change? When a person does the unforgivable, such as Chrissie, can society forgive?

I wish I would have read this when my oldest was in kindergarten.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,028 reviews661 followers
March 29, 2022
A nightmare of a mother, and a real horror show of a daughter.  Meet Chrissie, who introduces herself by stating that she has just killed a little boy.  Eight years old, she loves looking at dead things, touching them.  She's an equal opportunity threat, all other kids are fair game, even the scant one or two who are her "friends".

Ah, the first day of Spring, carrying with it all the promise it implies.  The cold dead Winter has ended, and the anticipation of warmth and sunlight is in the air.  A time when anything seems possible, new beginnings are there for the taking.  

I expected to like this more than I did, as I am a hopeless thrall for little kids who are bad seeds.  There are plenty of gruesome and shadowy corners here, but it just seemed repetitive before all was said and done.  To those who have tender sensibilities, start running now. 
Profile Image for GirlWithThePinkSkiMask IS ON VACATION.
351 reviews1,050 followers
March 24, 2023
** I'm breaking my own rule of not giving star ratings to audiobooks, but this one banged! **

Audiobook rating: YERRRRRR (translation: loved it) | Performance: 5/5 | Plot: 4/5 | Ending: 5/5

I've been putting this one off for awhile because I was scurred of the emotional wreckage, but I'm glad I finally dove in. This is kinda like My Dark Vanessa (but with murder) in terms of sad and depressy vibes and poignant writing. I think listening to it on audio kept me from totally spiralling into sadness vs digesting fully with my eyeballs (I'm a visual learner fyi).

I absolutely LOVED the narrator. Damn she KILLED it (pun not intended). The voice she used for a young Chrissie was top two and it ain't two. She really brought the character to life. The scene where Chrissie yells NO ONE LIKES ME... *chefs kiss*.

This is also the brand name version of Blood Sugar. Unlike Blood Sugar, which is bogged down by main chick's intolerable inner monologue about what a special star she is, this book really shows you how Chrissie's sad af home life turned her into a monster. Without telling, telling, telling, you see how Julia still struggles to live as an adult after growing up without a semblance of normal childhood. The theme of redemption is strong throughout, and may challenge the reader's bandwidth of forgiveness and empathy. Can a child murderer really grow up to be a good person? Find tf out yourself and read this book!

This book is not for the faint of heart. TWs for basically everything so know thyself. Also, I wouldn't classify this as a thriller or anything of the sort. Is "sad and depressy" a genre? If so, this is it.
Profile Image for Pat.
2,310 reviews395 followers
August 28, 2021
DNF at 27%. I know most people really rated this book but I just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t the subject matter, I’ve read stories with similar themes. It just wasn’t working for me at this time. I didn’t want to give a rating but I did want to record the DNF so ignore my stars and read the positive reviews that others have left!
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
643 reviews5,577 followers
December 14, 2021
"I killed a little boy today. Held my hands around his throat, felt his blood pump hard against my thumbs."

Do I have your attention? That's the first line of the book! Nancy Tucker came out swinging.


I have never seen this in a store, on someone's shelves, in anyone's hands. I've never heard anyone speak of this book. But boy howdy do I need to change that.

If you liked The Push by Ashley Audrian or Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, this has similar vibes.

This isn't a mystery. You know from page one that an 8 year-old girl kills a boy with her bare hands. The book is a psychological study on how she came to that place. It's a look at mental environments and how nurture really can overpower nature in every conceivable way.

This has plenty of trigger warnings. The ones that come to mind are:
death of a child, attempted murder of one's own child, overdose, starvation, mental abuse, parental abuse, verbal abuse, and much more.

It's just a really messed up story and I loved every second of it.
Profile Image for JaymeO.
359 reviews200 followers
June 23, 2021
Meet the 2021 debut thriller of the year!

The First Day of Spring is this year’s best debut. Period.

Nancy Tucker’s writing is absolutely breathtaking. She drew me into the story from the first line and I did not want to put this book down. Ever. I found myself so incredibly invested in Chrissie and rooting for her to succeed. I wanted to give her a big hug as she struggled to find her place in the world.

Tucker explores themes of friendship, motherhood, abuse, abandonment and love.

Normally I prefer fast-paced thrillers that are constantly changing direction. However, I didn’t need one additional word to make it a stand out for me. I also don’t like to read books that make me cry. This one did, and I loved it!

Tucker’s spot-on character development and phenomenal writing will blow you away!

You DO NOT want to miss The First Day of Spring!

5+/5 stars
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,929 reviews639 followers
June 15, 2021
I haven't read anything quite like this! This book starts out very chilling then once you know the details it becomes depressing. I find the middle to be a bit slow, and uncomfortable but the journey is so well worth it.

Chrissie is eight, a product of child abuse and neglect. She's also a killer. Twenty years later, Chrissie becomes Julia, a single mother. The story is told with alternating chapters between the two. Chrissie's POV is very compelling. It's hard to pinpoint what category this story falls under, but I wouldn't call it a thriller. The story is heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and makes you think about forgiveness and redemption. Not everything is black or white. A well-written story.
Profile Image for ReadAlongWithSue .
2,655 reviews170 followers
June 12, 2021
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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.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,921 reviews35.4k followers
August 22, 2021
“People always said I was smart for eight”.
What exactly does that mean?
It’s stories like this one - a devastating - unsettling- horrific travesty….
why book club discussions are so valuable!!!!

Profile Image for Karina.
802 reviews
February 2, 2022
"...I watched through legs as Steven's mammy went to the man at the door. Her insides were coming out of her mouth in a howl. She took Steven from him an the howl turned to words: "My boy, my boy, my boy." Then she sat down on the ground, not caring that her skirt was around her middle and everyone could see her underpants. Steven was clutched against her, and I thought how it was a good job he was dead already..." (PG. 3)

Back and forth from 4-5 stars... 5 it is then

We learn from the very first sentence that eight-year-old Chrissie is a murderer. You feel the rage as you read on and Chrissie's nonchalant attitude makes the reader hate her. The story builds from there and I realized she was unloved and uncared for by a mother that saw her as a burden and an absent abusive father. The question arises of nurture vs. nature....

The story takes us from Chrissie's new adult identity of Julie with flashes of the past as Chrissie. Julie, 25, now has a child, five-year-old Molly, and is very afraid to lose her. We see the person she used to be and what she has become. Feelings are conflicted from poor Chrissie to what a shitty little child you are, Chrissie. Should child murderers be incarcerated like adults or be viewed as children that made mistakes and deserve a second chance?

All along I felt like I was reading the loosely based autobiography of Mary Bell. For those of you who don't know of her.... She was a child murderer in the UK and this story is very similar to hers. Her mother was a prostitute that detested her from the time of her birth and was unloved, dirty and hungry. She wanted attention and asked the mother if she could see the dead child, as if fascinated. She would revisit the crime scene and tell lies about seeing things that day. When she was let out of a group home people were outraged and hounded her until she was granted permission to change her identity. The only thing known afterwards is that she had a daughter and then she disappears from the limelight.

This is a great debut novel. So many internal questions and feelings provoked here. Got a bit slow at some points but it didn't take away from the story.
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews366 followers
March 5, 2022
A chilling protagonist, but it was hard not to feel compassion towards her.

‘Bet you can’t see me, bet you can’t find me, bet you can’t catch me.’

There’s something about eight-year-old Chrissie that makes adults wary. Her teacher finds her a handful – argumentative, cheeky, disruptive, and disobedient, and her friend’s mammy even calls her a ‘bad seed’ to her face. Not that Chrissie cares, because her teacher and the mammies are mean and stupid. She firmly believes she is superior to everyone else.

But the adults are right to be afraid. Because Chrissie has a terrible secret. On the first day of spring she killed a neighbourhood boy named Steven.

Don’t tell…

The First Day of Spring was an emotional read. Half of the novel was narrated by Chrissie as a child, beginning the day of the murder and covering the months after, as the eight-year-old struggled to contain her true nature, used lies and fabrication to cover her tracks, all the while wanting to brag that she was the one who had killed Steven. Chrissie’s upbringing was one of poverty, neglect, emotional abuse, poor nutrition high in sugar, and lack of supervision. There is no doubt in my mind that the early childhood parental abuse inflicted on Chrissie, stunted her emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development exacerbating her psychopathy. As you would expect, Chrissie’s thoughts were disturbing and dark, and her uncontrollable urges to hurt others and do wrong made this a tough read. But, her honesty, innocence, pain, and lack of understanding of the consequences of her actions, coupled with her abusive situation, and the fact that every grown-up in her life let her down, elicited a lot of empathy, and I couldn’t help growing attached to her.

‘Your mam was the one who was supposed to fill you up when you felt empty, but she had never done that for me. She had given me dregs and scrapings of warmth.’

Not that I ever forgot what Chrissie was – a dangerous, unpredictable ticking time bomb – meaning my sympathy only stretched so far.

Fast forward to another first day of spring, where we were introduced to the second narrator, an adult Chrissie, now twenty-five, with a young daughter of her own. She’s using the name Julia, to hide her identity, as Chrissie’s secret is no longer a secret. The public considers her a monster, a child killer – and so does Julia, as how can she not be, when she’s done such unforgivable things? She lives on tenterhooks that her daughter Molly, the person she loves most in the world, will be taken away from her, while deep down she knows she deserves to lose her daughter, that Molly would be better off without her. Then, the phone calls start. Someone has found her… again…

‘The bunk was twice as long as me, because the cells weren’t meant for kids. If you were younger than ten you didn’t usually go to the cell or have a trial, because whatever bad thing you had done, you were just a kid and it wasn’t your fault. I was only eight, but I still got a cell and a trial. Some things were so bad they stopped you being a kid.’

Nancy Tucker injected a lot of humour into her writing as well, which you would think would be in bad taste, but it completely worked, and prevented things becoming too bleak and depressing. Because that just wouldn’t work for 320 pages.

This will be a slight spoiler as it was not revealed until a quarter of the way through, but as far as trigger warnings go, I feel it’s important to mention that the boy Chrissie killed was only two years old, meaning this read might be too much for some people to stomach. In the prologue, Steven’s referred to as ‘a baby’, and there was an early flashback scene where Chrissie was introduced to Steven when he was a week old and she’s already started primary school, so I knew he couldn’t have been very old when he died. But, it was still a shock to the system to find out that he was so little, undoubtedly too shocking for some to even pick up this book, and I fully understand.

I was a little confused regarding when the book took place, and having finished I’m still none-the-wiser. I had Chrissie’s time period pin-pointed to late 1970’s, and Julia’s to early 90’s, as there were no references to mobile phones or the internet in either POV, Chrissie’s schooling mirrored mine, and video tapes were mentioned circa Julia/Chrissie aged eighteen. But then that theory was blown out the window when a young Chrissie mentioned Stars in their Eyes which didn’t start screening on Irish television until 1990, so now I’m thinking Julia’s time period was more likely set 2007 at the earliest.

So, the week before my audio version was ready to borrow via overdrive I was approved for an e-ARC, but decided to hold off so I could listen instead of read. I suspected this was going to be an amazing audiobook though, because when my loan became available, the no. of days I was allowed the title had been reduced from 25 days to 20, due to popular demand. And I take my hat off to the gifted narrator, Kristin Atherton, as this was one of the best audio listens ever! Applaud! Applaud! Gotta love an East Irish accent. Her voices for the children – Chrissie, Molly, the neighbourhood kids – were incredible. I would definitely listen to this audiobook again, and plan to buy myself a copy via audible.

I’d like to thank Netgalley, Penguin Random House UK Cornerstone, and Nancy Tucker for the e-ARC. I have added The First Day of Spring to my favourites list. More fiction of this high calibre, pretty please Nancy Tucker.
Profile Image for Kelli.
844 reviews391 followers
July 10, 2021
This one didn't work for me, mainly because I couldn't reconcile the young character with the older version of herself. This reader needed far more details about that miraculous transformation and much less repetition of her childhood. The childhood parts were very well-drawn, creepy, and convincing, but at some point, too repetitive, with a lot of missing information that could've helped close the gaps. If I'm honest, I had to force myself to pick this one up and finish it. 2 stars
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
256 reviews287 followers
May 3, 2021
Intense, brutal--The First Day of Spring is a gorgeously written punch of a novel, the suffering and brutality of a child lost and abused lashing out and inwards. I cried so hard reading about Chrissie's life before and for the name she wears like a ragged cloak as she lives with her daughter, Molly, after.

A scathing indictment of how abused and neglected children fell and fall through society's enormous cracks, the way we all lie to ourselves when we don't want to see suffering, and how those who need our help the most rarely get it in any forms they can comprehend.

If you're looking for a feel good read, this isn't it. But if you're willing to read a raw novel about what suffering does, about what being deemed bad can turn you into, and what love in a ragged, needy, and lost way can be at its best and worst, you will not be sorry you read this. It's brilliant and painful and astonishing. An absolute must read, and a novel I won't forget anytime soon. For those unafaid of the darkness of the human heart, this is very, very highly recommended.

Tl;dr: A staggeringly brilliant novel.
Profile Image for Brandon Baker.
Author 14 books2,754 followers
March 20, 2022
I finished this in about 5 hours. Tucker’s writing just has me absolutely floored. This book was dark and genuinely chilling with one of the most unique narrators I’ve ever come across.
Profile Image for Karly.
194 reviews24 followers
January 2, 2023
My Rating Style: 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ticked all the boxes LOVED IT!!!

One morning…
One moment…
One yellow haired boy…
Was all it took for me to feel like god, it didn’t take much at all, I wrapped my hands around his neck and squeezed until he didn’t move anymore.

Meet Chrissie, she is 8 years old and has a secret, she has just killed a little boy. The feeling made her belly fizz like soda pop. Chrissie is the best at almost everything, wall walking, getting free candy, handstands and now she’s got all the power.

Food is scare at a home for Chrissie and attention even scarcer, but shes not afraid, she feels like god and anyway she knows more than most people…

Twenty years later Chrissie is a single mum hiding under a changed name since her incarceration. She wants her daughter to have the life she never did (in more ways than one). People are always hunting Chrissie and she fears one thing more than losing her life again and that is losing her daughter.

I read the synopsis for this one at least once a month all year, and only put it on my TBR list after I read some complimentary reviews. Even then it took me all the way until the end of the year to finally pick it up…. Well what the hell was I waiting for. This book was excellent. It was written so well, with such feeling and grit. What a way to debut into fiction - Well done Nancy Tucker!!

Once again we have my favourite style multi-POV and multi-timelines. We are treated to the world via Chrissie’s eyes at age 8 and also 20 years later (name now Julia). The sections that are written as child Chrissie you would think are lifted exactly out of a transcript of a child’s mind. At first you could be mistaken for thinking that Chrissie truly believes she is the best, with no worries, and no fear… but as you read further to see the underbelly of her life.

Chrissie is living in a loveless home, with an abusive mother, barely any food on a regular basis and she is a pariah of her poor neighbourhood. From time to time I completely forgot that Chrissie in fact murdered a boy, because her story is so tragic and sad that I wanted to bundle her up (kicking and screaming as she definitely would have been - she is tough and fierce you know) and give her a big hot dinner, a bath and a safe place to live. If perhaps someone had done this for this poor little lamb she wouldn’t have turned into a murderer - nature vs nurture??

Chrissie is a killer that fact is stated up front, but as the story unfolds we begin to see the tragedy that led to this crime and no matter how unforgivable her actions are, the actions of the adults surrounding her are also unforgivable. I am not ashamed to say that I felt my heart break for little Chrissie even though she seemed to show almost no remorse for her crimes… read between the lines in this story it truly shattered me.

In the Julia sections of the book, Chrissie is barely holding it together, having grown up (for a huge portion of her life) in a child’s detention centre she was thrust into the world after her incarceration an “adult” in name only. Chrissie is used to having her whole world decided for her so when she is fending for herself she reverts to doing so in a childlike manner. Drinking litres of coke at all hours of the night until her teeth ache, eating whatever sweets she likes instead of real food and generally living a child’s life.

Finding out she is pregnant after a poor choice of companion makes Chrissie grow up quickly. Once she has her daughter to care for she want to give her the life she never had, in all the ways, love, food, reading, warmth and no incarceration. She is constantly living in fear that one wrong move, one deviation from her schedule and one late dinner will result in Molly being ripped from her grasp and her never to be seen again.
She also feels insurmountable guilt at having a gorgeous, smart and lovely baby girl when she herself deprived parents from their child.
It is difficult not to feel sorry for Chrissie, although I absolutely do not condone the actions she took as a child. To say the mixed feelings were there throughout is an understatement.

From a little bit of research I found that the author has suffered from anorexia, an unforgivable illness that many don’t recover from. I found this out after I read the book and could see that Tucker manages to weave magic into her descriptions of hunger and desperation (I imagine from her own experiences). She unfolds how how the hunger ate away at Chrissie’s very being, this was extremely well done and I would imagine very difficult for the author so well done again ma’am, well done.

The hunger, abusive mother and sense of being so poor you don’t know what will happen next is all a very real (thankfully distant) memory for me, needless to say this book gave me all the feels. Know your limits though because the subject matter is uncomfortable and devastating at times so take care.

Overall, was it perfect - nope - but what book is truly perfect. Was it brilliant - absolutely- I am so glad I read it and I would recommend it to anyone who can handle these types of novels.
Profile Image for Tracy Fenton.
906 reviews172 followers
February 12, 2021
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.

Profile Image for NILTON TEIXEIRA.
790 reviews243 followers
May 29, 2021
3.5 stars rounded to 4.
Well, this was quite disturbing.
I have mixed feelings because I wasn’t crazy about her writing style and I did not find it that gripping, but I did enjoy the concept and the structure, although I must confess that I almost lost interest after 30%. It was too slow.
The built of the child’s personality was quite impressive and I found it believable.
As for the adult years, not so much. She was a bit boring I did find hard to believe that someone who was so evil during the childhood could become a normal person, but I guess it is possible. When the little girl acknowledged her mistakes was very believable.
I think that the last 20% of the book was the best part because I could finally hear that heartbeat, which is what I missed the most.
I was really looking forward to seeing a full trial, but that was only a tease.
Anyways, I wouldn’t consider this book a thriller or a mystery, as it wasn’t that exciting, but it is a thought provoking drama that kept me on the edge.
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