... gripping, unsettling ... Chrissie’s observations are immaculate, loyal to her age and her desperation ... The most moving passages of the novel come in her scrabble to endow her parents with rational kindness ... Starvation is so well captured here: the relentless, obsessive drudgery of it, 'a form of madness.' Chrissie is fascinated and repulsed by bodies better nourished than her own. At first, this fixation feels excessive, exhausting...But as Tucker opens Chrissie’s small, sparse world, this too becomes pitiful. In other people’s flesh, she can’t help seeing food ... There’s a unique, visceral fear for children who are murderers — you know those mug shots as well as I do — and Tucker sets that against our hope for redemption ... There is misery here, but there is also a dour British humor ... By the end of the novel, the voices of Chrissie and Julia reside deep in your skull: visceral and wicked, sad and wonderful, all at the same time.
Psychologist Tucker’s first novel after several works of nonfiction gives readers a window into a disturbed yet complex mind ... This sharp-edged and highly discussable book is difficult to put down. While not recommended for those who are sensitive to violence against children, the story’s fundamental questions will appeal to readers of Ashley Audrain’s The Push (2021) and Zoje Stage’s Baby Teeth (2018).
British author Tucker (The Time in Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope) makes a spectacular fiction debut with this gripping novel about childhood pain and healing ... The taut, meticulously observed narration, which alternates between Chrissie’s youthful and adult perspectives, mines the dangers that childhood trauma causes both its victims and those around them. Fans of Lisa Jewell and smart psychological suspense will eagerly await Tucker’s next.
British writer Tucker wastes no time grabbing the reader in her chilling debut novel ... Tucker builds almost unbearable tension in both timelines as the police circle closer to young Chrissie and the past pulls adult Chrissie back to the scene of her crime. This novel is a riveting thriller in every sense, but Tucker is asking big questions, too. Can society forgive the unforgivable? Does everyone deserve a second chance? She forces us to reconsider the perils of poverty and neglect. A chilling suspense novel about guilt, responsibility, and redemption.