The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker, published by Hutchison Books / Riverhead Books @NancyCNTucker @HutchinsonBooks/ @RiverheadBook #Bookreview #BlogTour

**A GUARDIAN 2021 BEST CRIME AND THRILLER PICK**
___________

If you liked “The Push” or “Girl A,” you’ll enjoy this contemporary urban fiction story, told through the voice of Chrissie the 8 year old killer.

DESCRIPTION:

‘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?

Complex and riveting from start to finish, The First Day of Spring will leave a pit in your stomach. Many thanks to Hope Butler at Penguin for recommending this book. Debut author Nancy Tucker delivers a nuanced narrative that describes the damage wrought by neglect. A fascinating and devastating read, one of the best this year!

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

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

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

Many thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone and to Netgalley and the author Nancy Tucker for an advance copy of this amazing book. It was a privilege.

#TheFirstDayofSpring #NetGalley

ABOUT 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.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

‘Perceptive and compassionate’ GUARDIAN
‘A stunning debut’ WASHINGTON POST
‘I loved this book’ CLARE MACKINTOSH
‘Ccompulsively readable’ ASHLEY AUDRAIN
Compelling . . . stunningly powerful’ GRAZIA
‘An unforgettable narrative voice’ PAULA HAWKINS
‘An extraordinary and heart-rending novel’ OBSERVER
‘This is outstanding . . . so powerful’ TRACY FENTON
‘A darkly dazzling debut . . . gripping’ LISA JEWELL
‘A gripping, unsettling debut novel’ ABIGAIL DEAN
‘Sharp-edged and highly discussable’ BOOKLIST

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s