A chilling and heartbreaking story which will raise many questions and discussions!
I was kindly gifted a copy of this from Hutchinson in exchange for an honest review.
The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker
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?
This is definitely a book that will have you asking plenty of questions. Could you forgive a killer if they were a child at the time? Can they go on to lead a normal life? Should they be locked away forever? Are they that way because of their upbringing? All these questions went through my mind as I was reading this and numerous times I changed my answer.
In the first few chapters you learn what Chrissie has done and from then on, throughout the rest of the book I was on the edge of my seat and had this continuous feeling of dread in my stomach as you fear that Chrissie is going to do it again and the author teases you with this at times. If it didn’t happen I actually could hear myself breathe a sigh of relief.
Chapters are split between Julia and Chrissie. During Julia’s chapters we see how she is coping having a child of her own and also keeping her identity secret. Meanwhile during Chrissie’s chapters we go back fifteen years to see how everything began along with details on what her childhood was like.
I think the author did such a fantastic job getting into the mind of Chrissie and being able to make the reader go from caring for her to hating her. At times the real life case of James Bulger crossed my mind and I felt there were some similarities within the story especially that question about whether a child who commits a horrific crime should get a new identity and new life. Again the author balances this out with the relationship between Chrissie and her mum as we see just how much she wants and needs love.
Overall this was a dark read that had my stomach in knots throughout but highlights some great questions that will definitely make for some brilliant bookclub discussions.