Title: The First Day Of Spring
Author: Nancy Tucker/ Narrated By Kristin Atherton
Genre: Contemporary fiction/ Mystery & Thriller
Goodreads Rating: 4.13
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.
Nancy Tucker leaves the reader breathless as she inhabits her protagonist with a shocking authenticity that moves the reader from sympathy to humour to horror to heartbreak and back again.
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 showed 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?