‘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?
Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker. The First Day of Spring is published by Hutchinson today (that’s Thursday 24th June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The First Day of Spring which has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Najma at Hutchinson for sending me an early copy of the book.
Oh. My. Gosh! The First Day of Spring is completely mesmerising and utterly devastating. I was smitten early on and I couldn’t bear to be parted from the book until I closed the last page. This is an exquisite fiction debut from an author to watch. A beautifully written tale featuring unforgettable characters but with a darkness at its heart. I flipping loved it!
Chrissie is eight years old. Chrissie has a big secret – she killed a boy. But she can’t tell anyone what she did. Otherwise she won’t be able to do it again and have the fizzy feeling it gave her in her tummy. Fifteen years later, Julia is doing the best she can for her five year old daughter, Molly. She worries constantly that she’s not doing enough. Every scratch, every bump could result in social services taking Molly away. So the last thing Julia needs is for Molly to break her arm and end up in hospital under the watchful eye of a doctor. Shortly after Molly’s accident the phone calls start. Someone knows the truth. Someone knows what happened fifteen years ago. It’s finally time for Julia to face her past…
The First Day of Spring is a stunning piece of fiction which is heightened to a new level thanks to the voice of eight- year-old Chrissie. The author has managed to create an unforgettable character who, despite being a killer, worked her way into my heart. The neglect Chrissie suffers thanks to her distant and damaged mother, Eleanor, is devastating. The simple things a child needs to grow and flourish are not provided. Chrissie is unloved and unwanted, and boy, does she know it. Eleanor makes this plainly clear to everyone, including her own long-suffering daughter. One scene in particular, where Eleanor decides she’s had enough, is absolutely heart-breaking. Everyone in the small community could do more to help the child. Her clothes are tatty, she never wants to go home and she eats her friend’s parents out of house and home. But is the abuse and neglect suffered by Chrissie reason enough to kill? Can a child be held 100% accountable for their actions when they don’t fully understand what they’ve done?
Julia is desperate to make sure Molly experiences a very different childhood to her own. The desire to be different, to make a change, to break the cycle and provide everything her daughter needs motivates her to keep going. But she also sees Molly as punishment for the past. She’s reminded constantly of what she did. I so desperately wanted things to work out for Julia and Molly. With social services peering over their shoulders and the threat of losing Molly ever present, I was captivated by their journey from the moment I met them.
Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, yes. I devoured The First Day of Spring. When I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about the characters. It’s a dark and unsettling read which I don’t think will be a good fit for everyone due to the difficult subject matter but this reader absolutely loved it. Chrissie broke my heart time and time again. The author’s writing is immersive and totally believable which made Chrissie, Julia and Molly come to life before my very eyes. I don’t think I’ll be able or willing to forget The First Day of Spring. Haunting, compelling and utterly devastating. Highly recommended.
I chose to read and review a free ARC of The First Day of Spring. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker was published in the UK by Hutchinson on 24th June 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |
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.