Haven't They Grown

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

Another intriguing read from Sophie Hannah - but what more would you expect!  I was led down blind alleys in my mind trying to preempt the denouement quite a few times which although is frustrating to be wrong does keep me reading on to find out what happened/ why / conclusion.  The characters are well portrayed and the descriptions are en point.
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Seriously confusing, but in a really good way. It took me ages to unravel the mysteries that this book contained. Several threads all unraveling and then knitting back together to show the whole pattern took me through this book in what felt like a blink of an eye. Recommended.
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When Beth drops by on her old friend Flora after 12 years she is surprised to see her still living in her old home. But when Flora’s children come into view they do not seem to have aged at all – what is going on?

The only book I’ve read by Sophie Hannah is The Understudy which I was very much not a fan of. That book had been written by 3 other authors as well though, so I was willing to give her a chance as a solo writer as the plot summary really intrigued me. I’m glad I did as I actually really enjoyed Haven’t They Grown. The concept is a great one and the blurb really drew me in. The plot kept me guessing throughout and wasn’t an easy one to just work out as you are going along – there are a lot of twists and turns and not all characters are as they seem. It’s a nice easy writing style which kept me engaged throughout and I kept wanting to pick the book up to find out the answer to the mystery.

I think one of my criticisms would be that it does stretch believability a little in the plot. Beth seems far too invested in what has happened to her friend Flora and is seemingly willing to even end her marriage because of it which just seemed odd. The beginning of the book hinted that perhaps she had done something in the past that she regretted that would cause this but when it’s actually revealed I don’t think it was big enough to warrant the fallout. As the book only really has one mystery, (although it’s a good one!) it does occasionally feel a little too stretched out. We get so many versions of the truth that it starts to get a bit muddied by the end with so many convenient explanations and people only telling half of the story that it feels frustrating and confusing. The end reveal didn’t really have the impact I had hoped that it would have although I did enjoy the conclusion.

Overall I enjoyed Haven’t They Grown – it’s an engaging read that will keep you guessing from start to finish. Thank you to NetGalley & Hodder & Stoughton for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I am already a huge fan of Sophie Hannah’s poetry, so was very excited to try one of her crime thrillers, and I wasn’t disappointed!

The hook of Haven’t They Grown is amazing. Beth goes poking her nose around the house that her old friend Flora moved to twelve years ago, when they severed all contact with each other. She’s not really sure what she is looking for, or what she hopes to achieve, but she certainly doesn’t expect to see Flora with her two children, Thomas and Emily… and neither child appears to have aged at all!

Wow! I was immediately hooked, because what possible – non-magical – explanation could there be?! And I couldn’t stop reading either, because the more information Beth uncovers, the more confused she and I became. I had absolutely no clue what could be going on, right up until the big reveal, and I was happy just to hang on and enjoy the ride.

Sophie Hannah has created a twisty, well-written suspense thriller and her characters are thoroughly believable, even despite Beth’s utter obsession with needing to know. To be honest, when it came to the Braid family and their mysteriously ageless children, I needed to know too!

Definitely don’t start this one just before bed. It’s not scary… you just won’t be able to put it down until it’s finished.

The little girl turns and, for a second, looks straight at me.
It’s her. That T-shirt with the fluffy sheep on it…Le petit mouton.
The girl I’m looking at is Emily Braid, except she’s not fifteen, as she should be – as she must be and is, unless the world has stopped making sense altogether.
This is the Emily Braid I knew twelve years ago, when she was three years old. And Thomas…I can’t see all of his face, but I can see enough to know that he’s still five years old, as he was when I last saw him in 2007.
I have to get out of here. I can’t look any more. Everything is wrong.

– Sophie Hannah, Haven’t They Grown

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
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I enjoyed this. It kept me guessing the whole way through. I felt the desperation of the main character - how she felt she was crazy for thinking she’d seen her friend and the kids. I would recommend this book.
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Beth is due to drop off her son Ben at a football match. It is a two hour drive from her home. Having travelled so far, she cannot resist a slight detour to drive past the house of her friend, Flora, whom she hasn’t seen for 12 years. Why are Flora’s children still aged three and five? Why haven’t they grown? With such a bizarre and intriguing opening to a book one knows that at some point one is going to have to suspend belief. This point came for me towards the end of the book. It’s the amazing writing skills of Sophie Hannah that kept me riveted to the story of Beth and Flora and their respective families and determined to try to work out the truth of what on earth was happening! I couldn’t work it out and was so intrigued I kept reading ‘just a few more pages’ until the book was finished and I knew the truth.
Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Haven't They Grown by Sophie Hannah

It’s 12 years since the friendship ended between Beth and Flora, since they lost touch. So much time has passed that Beth wonders what happened to her former best friend and her children. One day a perfect opportunity comes along to find out and Beth cannot resist it. Her teenage son Ben is playing football at a ground that is no distance at all from the grand house that Flora and her husband Lewis moved to all those years ago. Beth is waiting outside hoping for a glimpse when a car drives through the open gates and out climbs Flora and with her are her two children Thomas and Emily. But Thomas and Emily are exactly as they were 12 years before. They’re still small children, they’re even wearing the same clothes that Flora remembers, and Flora seems upset. How is this possible? Why haven’t they aged and what is wrong with Flora? From that moment on Beth becomes obsessed with discovering the truth. There is nothing on Earth that will stop her.

Haven’t They Grown has an incredible premise. As soon as I heard it I knew I had to read it. Talk about a compelling read! The novel is effectively written as a puzzle. It’s set up right at the beginning and every page afterwards contributes to the pieces slowly coming together in a way that I could not guess. And from the very first page I knew I could not stop reading until I knew. The story is written in the first person – this is Beth’s story and it’s her obsessive, determined voice, thinking aloud, that drives this novel on. It works extremely well.

The puzzle is what matters here above all else, including character, but, even so, I really enjoyed getting to know Beth, her husband Dom and their teenage kids Ben and Zannah, especially Zannah. They feel like a normal family (almost). There are no issues, no angst, just a loving family who talk normally to each other. Their dialogue is great! It feels natural and is often humorous. Dom and Beth have a wonderful relationship and, even though her obsession can irritate him, he is supportive. As for Zannah, she should be revising for exams but she’s far too caught up helping her mum. I loved all this. It’s an extraordinary premise but our main characters feel believable.

There are less believable aspects to the novel as the plot is unravelled. On that, though, I’m not going to say a word. I knew nothing about the story beyond the premise when I read it and that’s all any reader should know. I did find aspects of it unconvincing, especially in the final third, but as always that’s just my opinion. I still found it a compelling read and I loved Zannah. How pleasant and unsual to read a novel that features a perfectly normal, likeable and funny teenage girl! This is one of those books that it’s very likely you’ll just gobble up, hunting for the answers to a fantastic puzzle that really makes this thriller stand out.
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As a Sophie Hannah fan, I loved this book! Very gripping, well written. Great plot and intrigue. 
Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
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Fantastic hook for a novel - you see your ex-friend's children and they look just the same - no older - despite the fact that years have passed.  Why and how?

I won't spoil the story but it builds well and was a very enjoyable read with some great twists and turns.
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Beth finds herself driving to the house her best friend used to live in only to find she was still there. Drawing closer she sees her friend's two children but they haven't aged in the twelve years since she last saw them but how can that be possible. Beth is now determined to learn the truth but at what cost? 

This was an interesting story with am intriguing premise. Theres a lot going on to sift through to finally get the answers but it does eventually come together. The plot is interesting and has some good twists to throw the reader into one theory before twisting it to another. The ending was cleverly done but I feel the final conclusion was a little rushed. I liked Beth despite her being a little reckless and crazy. I did love the scene with her daughter and the headteacher. A good thriller.
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With thanks to Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.

I am a big fan of Sophie Hannah and I have read all her books in the Spilling CID series.  When I heard she was releasing Haven't They Grown I was excited to read it.

The plot was unique and well crafted.   I  liked Zanna, Beth`s sixteen year old daughter.  I also liked the woman who was Flora`s ex neighbour, she was a great character and it was a shame didn't have a bigger part in the story.

However I thought the premise of the story was ridiculous.  I don't want to spoil the story for any potential readers, but Beth had not seen Flora for twelve years.  I could understand why Beth  may of been curious seeing Flora again, but it was strangely stalkerish to go to her old friends house to speak to the current owners.

Even after speaking to Flora, Beth was not satisfied and left her family to go to Florida to investigate.  I liked Beth but she was like a dog with a bone who should of concentrated on her own family

I am a big fan of psychological thrillers but the plot was so implausible it spoiled my enjoyment.
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Psychological crime drama at its very best. I have read all Sophie Hannah's books and thoroughly enjoyed them and this is at the very top. Brilliantly plotted and very cleverly paced. Beth is like a dog with a bone, she can't leave things alone despite Dom's insistence that she should. Beth is encouraged and supported by Zannah, her daughter. She must get to the bottom of what seems impossible. Add to that so much laugh out loud humour and it's perfect. Absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down - a one sitting book!
Many thanks to Netgalley/Sophie Hannah/Hodder & Stoughton for a digital copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.
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This was another good read from Sophie Hannah as always, loved it. Very unique storyline I thought and had me intrigued all the way through. Twists and turns galore and never a dull moment; what more could you want?! Buy it...
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I have a lot to thank Sophie Hannah for. Not only has she written another brilliantly complex and twisty plot that kept me guessing (wrongly!!!) throughout but she has introduced me to the pleasures of Rubis! At one point in the narrative one of the characters offers Beth and her daughter Zannah a glass of Rubis so, me being me, I had to check out what it was. And when I saw that it was a mix of the flavours of red wine and chocolate I just had to order some. So now I’m not only a huge Sophie Hannah fan, but I’m a Rubis lover too! A winning combination if ever there was one!

But back to Haven’t They Grown and the premise of this book captured my interest as soon as I heard about it. How the hell can someone’s children not have grown in 12 years. They look the same, have the same names and are obviously the children that Flora, Beth’s Ex best friend, had from when they were close. But how?! And boy, did I have some weird and wonderful theories about how these two children had remained the same for the past 12 years but I was way off! And it’s not as if the plot uses a cop out to explain towards the end. Everything comes together perfectly and the reasons behind the mystery are unraveled perfectly with a real punch of believability.

Sophie Hannah has been a huge favourite of mine since I read the first book in her Culver Valley series, Little Face, and she always manages to shock and surprise me with her brilliant characters and their twisty lives. I loved the relationship Beth had with her family especially her teenage daughter Zannah and that added a real depth of understanding of why she was like a dog with a bone after her encounter with Thomas and Emily. Her children have matured and are developing into the adults they will become so it’s no wonder she can’t leave it when her old friend hasn’t got that same connection to her children. Haven’t They Grown expertly builds the tension and suspense until the perfect denouement and I loved every single page! It’s a sophisticated and intelligent read from start to finish. And I defy anyone to actually guess the plot twists!

Highly recommended by me!
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My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for an eARC via NetGalley of Sophie Hannah’s ‘Haven’t They Grown’ in exchange for an honest review.

This psychological thriller is narrated by Beth Leeson who decides to use the opportunity of her son’s ‘away’ football match to drive past the new home of her former best friend, Flora Braid. They haven’t seen each other in twelve years. All she hopes to do is catch a glimpse of Flora. 

She parks up and then sees Flora pull up outside the house and then she and her children, Thomas and Emily, emerge from the car. Flora looks good though clearly older but it’s the children that shock Beth. Something is very wrong. They look exactly as they did twelve years ago: aged three and five. There’s no mistake, Beth even hears Flora call them by their names.

Beth struggles to comprehend “why haven’t they grown?” She drives away but just can’t let go becoming increasingly obsessed with solving the mystery. She shares all this with her husband and her own children. Her daughter, Zannah, is quite intrigued and assists with her mother’s investigation. Anything to get out of her GCSE revision!

I have been a big fan of Sophie Hannah since I first came across her Culver Valley series of police procedurals that were cleverly combined with psychological thrillers. She always seems to come up with very convoluted plots where there seems no way for them to be resolved. Then suddenly all is revealed and I would sit back and marvel at the twists. It always seemed like close-up magic and I recall writing that “she did it to me again!” 

There are elements of the plot that are quite ‘out there’ but knowing her style I was happy to sit back and see where Hannah would lead me. 

As with most thrillers I would advise reading without too much prior plot information to avoid spoilers.

I also applaud Hannah on capturing so perfectly the relationship between Beth and her teenager son and daughter, especially in the early chapters before she becomes so totally engrossed in the mystery of Flora and family.

A wild fabulous ride of a psychological thriller.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the idea of the book. It sounded like a really good read. I think though that whilst parts of it are good, other parts are totally unbelievable. The idea of children not ageing is fascinating. The full story behind all the events seemed too extreme to be believable. It is still a memorable read. 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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3.5 stars rounded up to 4

Beth was out doing an errand when she comes across an old friend she hasn't seen for twelve years. Beth k we that Flora had two children before they stopped talking to each other. The children that are with Flora today are the same age now as they were when Beth last seen them. Beth becomes obsessed in finding out the truth surrounding the Braids. Beth seeks help from her family and her daughter Zannah is  ore than happy to help. 

This story starts off slow but the pace soon picks up. There is some good twists but it's also a  it far fetched in places. I also felt the ending was a bit rushed. I can't say to much about the plotline as it would spoil it for potential readers. I liked Beth and her daughter Zannah. They were likeable and believable. Over all, this is a pretty decent read.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Hodder & Stoughton and the author Sophie Hannah for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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A good thriller, gripping and entertaining. I prefer the first half of the story because it's less weird and more believable.
Even if the second half it's a bit over my suspension of belief level I found this book gripping and enjoyable.
I liked the atmosphere, the fleshed out cast of characters and the plot.
It's the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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What a strange read. The premise had me intrigued. Personally this is a book of two halves and I much preferred the first half. In places it was bizarre to say the least. Psychological mind games? The plot was very complex but I felt compelled to carry on reading. Almost five stars and recommended. 
I would like to thank the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.
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Haven’t They Grown is a compulsive first-person narrative with a premise that is as mind-blowingly weird as it is un-putdownable. Twelve years ago Beth and her best-friend, Flora, were both young mums, each with a boy and a girl aged three and five. They’d been friends since Uni and told each other everything, so when Flora kept her third pregnancy a secret, Beth was both hurt and angry, leading to a rift in their friendship. In the present day, Beth accidentally on purpose takes the wrong turning when taking her teenage son to football and ends up outside Flora’s house. She is just about to drive off when Flora pulls up in her car and gets out. Beth hears Flora telling her children, Thomas and Emily, to get out of the car and Beth is shocked at how Flora still speaks to them as if they are still small children rather than teenagers – then she sees them and they are still children – in fact Thomas is still wearing his same favourite top. 

Now most psychological thrillers would see the protagonist keeping this implausible scenario to themselves, convinced it was all in their head; but this doesn’t happen here. Beth is a strong and feisty character and as soon as she gets home she tells her husband and two children all about what has happened. And whilst they think it is all totally weird, they don’t think Beth is mad either. They sit around the dining table and come up with a whole range of weird and wonderful ideas as to what might be going on, and the outcome is that Beth and Dom will go and pay Flora’s neighbours a visit. However, this throws up more questions than answers when they learn that Flora’s lookalike is called Jeannette Carter. Things get even more complicated when Beth sees Flora but Flora runs away, then when she returns to her car she is a different person but wearing Flora's clothes. But Beth isn’t prepared to let things drop. Flora was her best friend once, and if Flora or her children are in trouble then Beth isn’t going to just walk away. This takes Beth on an intensely edge-of-the-seat journey where she constantly puts herself in danger. Beth gets herself deeper and deeper into trouble and the plot spirals into one of the most unputdownable psychological thrillers I’ve read.

As well as being an intense psychological thriller, Haven’t They Grown is a story of family and friendship; there are also some really funny moments. Beth and her daughter Zannah have a brilliant relationship, and Beth’s feisty character is highlighted when she climbs into the school window to stick up for Zannah when she is hailed in front of the headmaster.

I read this book in just one day; something I haven’t done for a while.  I will definitely be digging out more Sophie Hannah books that have been patiently waiting on my TBR and would recommend this book for fans of Louise Jensen or Claire Mackintosh; or anybody who likes a good mystery as well as a thriller.
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