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The First Day of Spring  By  cover art

The First Day of Spring

By: Nancy Tucker
Narrated by: Kristin Atherton
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Publisher's Summary

'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 working in a fish-and-chip shop and 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 15 years ago. 

And it's time to face the truth: is forgiveness and redemption ever possible for someone who has killed?

©2021 Nancy Tucker (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)

"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)

What listeners say about The First Day of Spring

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One of my new favourites

I really enjoyed this audiobook! The story was both incredibly sad and heartwarming at times and the narrator did a great job. It’s not very fast paced but I think that the slow ”build-up” of the main character is very fitting.

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  • Sigrin
  • 07-07-22

Hauntingly beautiful


Words can not describe this book for me, unlike anything I have read /listened to before.

You want to dislike Chrissie from the start, however as the story evolves you enter her psyche and can start to understand this poor child.


There are times in the book that take your breathe away and make me feel almost physically sick, no spoilers here but parenting plays a vital role.

The narration by Kristin Atherton is without a doubt exemplary. Her adult and child voices puts life into this hauntingly beautiful book,

This book will stay with me for sometime, I am so surprised it has not been talked about more as it is without a doubt one of the best I have listened to gut some time.

I implore you to read/ listen to this book, you will not be disappointed.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Louise
  • 06-27-21

Best audiobook I’ve heard in a long time

I was hooked straight away and I’ve just lost a weekend totally engrossed, completely recommend this book, so well written and it will stay in my head for some time to come

2 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 12-18-21

Truly terrible in the best sense of the word

The terribleness of this book makes for traumatic listening. The narration adds another dimension to the whole experience; it is an astounding performance. That the author is only 24 is also amazing.

Does a child murderer deserve to live? Can she ever be free of her crime? Can she ever be capable of being a mother herself? Why would a child kill? Is she pure evil or has evil been heaped upon her?....
So many questions are raised by the story, never overtly or intrusively, but there within the story.
Chrissie is the 8 year-old killer who strangles the life out of a little boy because she can, because it makes her feel so good and powerful - everything that's missing from her life. She's been called the 'bad seed', a name that sticks so she viciously kicks and steals her way through each day, hunger gnawing in her belly, totally neglected by her criminally / insanely inadequate / neglectful mother who fails to feed her and who herself suffered a terrible childhood. Chrissy's days are spent doing handstands, lying, stealing milk and sweets and cadging cake from other mummies who don't lock their children out or give them sleeping pills in a Smarties tube.

We also see Chrissie grown up with her own little girl Molly and a new identity. She loves Molly with a burning, gut-wrenching love (even if she can't express it in words out loud) and lives in terror of her being claimed by Social Services, or of other mummies finding out who she is. The narrative voices of the children are brilliant - stunningly real .

What's so good about this book is that there is no condemnation, just a presentation of the terribly damaged lives of people unable to emerge from the weight of it all. Chrissy's absent-but-sometimes-returning-briefly-from-the-dead drunken dad loves his little girl but is powerless to help himself let alone her. Chrissy's apparently cruel / heartless / emotionless mother ends up alone writing fond birthday cards to herself supposedly from the imprisoned daughter who hates her.

Can there be healing? For Chrissy? For the parents of the murdered children? Can there be a positive way forward? The author is skilled enough to guide us to an ending which is not entirely bleak.

This is a book to be read and not forgotten. It takes us with great insight behind the lurid headlines answering some of the why? why? how could that happen? questions.

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  • lynnect
  • 08-29-22

I couldn’t stop listening

A difficult subject, but so well written, I just couldn’t stop listening. The narrator was brilliant. 5 stars all the way from me.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-03-22

Phenomenal

Absolute best book I've read in years!
Will definitely stay with me for a long time to come.

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  • Catherine
  • 05-24-22

Stick with it

At first I found the narration annoying because Chrissie was quite squeaky but honestly the story is so good I am glad I stuck with it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-21-22

Okay

As others have noted, this seems to have been inspired by the life story of Mary Bell, and perhaps the real-life material that author had to draw in is why the child's narration is much the stronger part of the book. My heart sank slightly everytime we returned to 'Julia', but Chrissie's narration is really good. It truly takes you into the angry, disturbed mindset of a neglected child that is loved by no one, and tolerated by only a few. It shows how killing is her way of feeling powerful when she is so disenfranchised. Julia's is dull and I think the author could have worked on having something else going on in this portion of the book. Yes, Julia would probably be isolated given her past, but a few more peripheral characters at this stage could have upped then tension and made things more interesting. Julia hasn't enough character to carry this bit on her own.

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  • Rushton Lee
  • 05-01-22

unexpextedly real

this really isn't my usual thing but it came highly recommended and I'm glad I picked it up. even if it's not your usual genre give it a shot because it's really well written and the narrator absolutely just makes the book!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-09-22

excellent narration and story

narrated really skilfully, beautiful description, poignant and heartbreaking tale ,observant,'crying pain' in the throat for example. totally overwhelming,

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-22-22

best listen in a long while

A difficult subject treated with great care. Desperately sad you absolutely understood poor Chrissie. There's a wit and humour that sets it apart. I loved it

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  • Hannah
  • 12-22-21

Heart wrenching, raw, a must read

Everything about this book had me in awe. the writing, the characters, the heart wrenching story. The narration was exceptional and really brought the characters and their struggles to life.