Cover Image: Haven't They Grown

Haven't They Grown

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Member Reviews

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.
Recommended.
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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Having been lucky enough to be given an ARC of Sophie Hannah’s new novel, I was very much looking forward to reading Haven’t they Grown. Other reviews led me to believe I wouldn’t be disappointed and the first chapter, setting the scene did draw me in so that I felt excited for how this storyline was going to develop.
Beth and Dom used to be great friends with Flora and Lewis Braid until an event that is alluded to saw them move away to the exclusive Wyddial lane. It’s twelve years since Beth has set eyes on her friend so when an opportunity presents itself to accidentally divert here en route to her son Ben’s football match, Beth wastes no time in doing so. Except what she sees outside the gates of No.16 sends shockwaves through her and sets events in motion that will disrupt her family life and turn her into a neurotic amateur sleuth desperate to uncover the truth.
What she has witnessed, is Flora with two of her children Thomas and Emily (baby Georgina nowhere in sight) but EXACTLY as they were twelve years ago. Strange and bizarre and most certainly a conundrum!!! Especially as it transpires the house is now owned by Kevin and Jeanette Cater and the Braids are living a new life in America.
With my curiosity sufficiently aroused I have to say this was a page turner as I managed to read from start to finish in one day. 
There are certainly plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged and wanting more which is essential for any good psychological thriller so on that level the author has delivered the goods. However, with each turn of the page I steadily became more confused and bewildered at what turns out to be a complex, convoluted and far fetched plot. With the doggedly determined Beth casting aside her everyday life to satisfy her growing concern,she is joined by her daughter Zannah who is equally eager to solve this mystery instead of revising for her GCSES. 
I had trouble in believing in Zannah’s character since she is portrayed as wise beyond her years and more switched on than her mother yet her involvement doesn’t strike me as realistic. Is she that desperate to avoid revision to chase around the country in search of answers?? The plot line rapidly descends into implausibility as these two ‘detectives ‘ delve further, although I did laugh at some of the exchanges between mother and teenage daughter which Ms Hannah has accurately observed. I felt sorry for Dom, a laid back character forced to stand by and witness the madness that is enveloping the whole family but on the whole I couldn’t feel much warmth or empathy for any of these individuals.To be brutally honest, by this point I really didn’t much care to discover the reasons behind the two families friendship abruptly ending and frankly it’s impossible to guess as it doesn’t make sense. Why I continued to turn the pages was because I wanted all the threads to come together for me to be able to rationalise it all but my brow became more furrowed as the bounds of incredulity were stretched further and further.
Many years ago I listened to this author speak at a book event and I found her to be a very funny and entertaining speaker hence why the imminent publication of Haven’t they grown appealed so much to me. 
I may well be in the minority for not enjoying this book and I DESPERATELY wanted to love it. Unfortunately, on this occasion I was left underwhelmed but my thanks as always to the author and publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read in exchange for an honest review.
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Beth and her husband, Dom, were friends with Flora and Lewis. Now that friendship is broken and they haven’t seen each other in twelve years. Beth takes her son to football and sees Flora with two children who are identical to the children she remembers from 12 years previously. Why are they not any older? Beth starts to investigate why the children haven’t aged and what’s happened to their friendship. 

This was a bit of an odd read, it was good but strange. I enjoyed it all the same but felt the first half was better than the last half. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for this arc in exchange for my honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book so much.  It has a really great plot, superb main characters and I read it in one sitting.  I would highly recommend this book.
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Great thriller that succeeds in holding reader on a seesaw between the conviction that something bizarre is going on and the suspicion that the lead character could be experiencing delusions. Contemporary theme of coercive control explored well.
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Beth and Flora were best friends at University but something happened to end their friendship. Ten years later, Beth happens to be in the area that Flora and her family had moved to all those years ago. When her curiosity gets the better of her, Beth decides to drive down the road in hope of a glimpse of her former best friend. But what Beth sees rocks her world completely. Flora is there, looking almost the same but clearly having aged the ten years since they’ve last spoke. Then there is Thomas and Emily. Flora calls their names and Beth is astonished to see the two children as they were, ages three and five. Not aged a bit over the last decade. How is it possible? How have they not aged? 

Beth can’t let this go, no matter how much her husband tries to discourage her with explanation and after explanation, Beth will not let this lie. Along with her daughter, Zannah, beth probes and delves into the lives of her former best friends and their story just gets more eerie and mysterious. 

I loved this book and I am ashamed to say it is my first book by this highly acclaimed author and it will definitely not be my last. Full of mystery and intrigue with a little bit of weirdness thrown, it was brilliant. The characters are brilliant, the relationship with Beth and her husband is tremendous. The author really shows the closeness between the couple and his unfaltering, if somewhat wary support of her quest to find the truth. Zannah, Beth’s teenage daughter was my favorite character. Incredibly brave and fearless she supports Beth completely and makes it her personal challenge to get the truth. She is a brilliant sidekick and made me laugh out loud with her loyalty and frankness. I will leave this review here, for fear of spoilers. I insist you read this strangely unique mystery. Highly recommended. I cannot wait to read more from this amazing author.
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Haven’t They Grown is an intriguing, twisty novel that kept me guessing and presents a seemingly impossible conundrum – how can two children not have grown any older, despite many years having passed since being last seen at the exact age they still appear to be now? Beth sets out to investigate…

I really liked the characters within this novel, from Beth and her husband to their sparky, confident daughter Zannah – she’s a really likable, engaging character who I’d happily have read more about, and her and mum Beth make a great duo.

I spent a lot of the novel trying to work out the ‘answer’ without any luck at all, and thoroughly enjoyed being surprised!

I think you need to suspend your disbelief a little at times but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment; the great writing and tight plot results in a complex and interesting story that I didn’t want to put down. Definitely recommended as a great new release from one of my favourite authors.
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Beth hasn't seen her best friend Flora for 12 years so she can't resist driving down Flora's street for a quick look at her house that he happens to be in the town.
She catches a glimpse of Flora herself, along with her two children Thomas and Emily who were five and three years old when they last met.
The problem is, Thomas and Emily still look five and three. And when makes Beth makes enquiries she discovers Flora, her  tech billionaire husband and the children live in Florida.
Shocked, Beth embarks on an investigation that sees her more and more obsessed, alienating her husband, annoying a lot of people and even involving the police.
But despite all the setbacks she encounters, Beth is convinced something sinister is going on in Flora's apparently perfect family.
Haven't They Grown is a gripping stand-alone novel and a worthy successor to the excellent Did You See Melody, cementing Sophie Hannah's position as queen of the high-concept psychological mystery after she built a strong following with her twisty police procedurals and Hercule Poirot novels.
She can now offer up the most unlikely concept for a mystery novel and we'll go along for the ride, knowing it's worth our effort.
In Haven't They Grown, she presents us with an irresistible premise and wrings every possible twist and turn from its potential, as she takes us towards the inevitable climax.
But of course, the risks of setting up such an impossible mystery is that the final explanation will be either not worth waiting for, or too complicated for its own good. The latter, with credibility stretched to breaking point, is an occasional problem with Hannah's books.
But in this case, while her explanation flirts with unbelievability, it's presented with such page-turning energy, peril and confidence that we end up feeling satisfied rather than cheated.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.  I really like this author and this was a great read which had me hooked from the beginning,  very complex plot.  Would recommend to others.
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Gah, I was so disappointed by this book. I first heard about it at Theakstons Crime Writing Festival in 2018 and thought the premise sounded amazing. It is such a great hook and that was the only reason I kept reading, because I just had to know what happened next. The problem was the book was repetitive, overly complicated and dull and the actual 'reveal' was deeply unsatisfying and completely absurd. There was also a random side plot brought in three quarters of the way through which served no purpose whatsoever. I really wanted to like it and really wanted to be able to rave about it but overall it just wasn't for me.
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All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home. Just because she knows her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn't mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn't seen Flora Braid for twelve years. But she can't resist. She parks outside Flora's house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except there's something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older - just as Beth would have expected. It's the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt - Beth hears Flora call them by their names - but they haven't changed at all. They are no taller, no older.

Creepy and weird is how I have depicted this read, which lets be honest, is not the most flattering way of describing a book. However, that is exactly what this is, the read is creepy and it is weird. This does not make it a negative point, there was plenty in this to keep me thinking and guessing as to what was truly going on. 

So how is this creepy and weird. Well, as you can tell from the plot description, Beth sees her old friend's children Thomas and Emily at the same age they would have been twelve years ago. Need I say anymore. The book does have a supernatural vibe to it the whole way through. Hannah is very careful to ensure this remains a thriller but due to the nature of the plot, this supernatural vibe is frustratingly present throughout.

I did find myself gripped by the plot, trying to work out the possible truth along with the characters and I thought Hannah provides a worthy, if a little obvious, explanation. An area of the read I adored are the characters. Hannah has created a very likeable, very strong family unit in the form of Beth, her husband and their children. It was so refreshing to read a book about a solid family who love each other and support each other. I will not say more as I do not want to ruin what they go through but I very much enjoyed reading about them.

'Haven't They Grown' is a gripping yet odd read that kept me guessing throughout. There are bizarre happenings throughout the read but you will be rewarded with a worthwhile ending.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an advance copy.
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Such a great story! Than you so much for the advanced copy. I’ve read a few of Sophie Hannah’s books so I knew this would be good. I wasn’t wrong. It’s very intricately written, with so much going on and the relationship between mother and daughter was really nice. A great ending as well!
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I think I am finally giving up on Sophie Hannah. I've tried so many of her books over the years, but there is something about them that just doesn't gel with me. I don't know what it is, but I just find them too twisty, and yet also too dull. This one just dragged - it took a fantastic premise and made it pretty boring, and if I'm honest I skipped to the end to read the big reveal, which for me, was just not satisfactory. It's very much my own opinion though, and I know a lot of others adore her work, so I think it might just be me being difficult!
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Haven't They Grown by Sophie Hannah is a standalone mystery/thriller and from the blurb one I thought would keep me guessing throughout.

Beth is a happily married mother of two teenage children running her own successful massage business from home.

On a whim whilst taking her son to an away football match she decides to take a detour and check out her ex-best friend's house.  However what she sees defies logic and is completely impossible.  Flora Baird pulls up outside her house and gets out of her car with her 2 children Thomas & Emily who Beth last saw 12 years ago - except Thomas and Emily are the exact same age they were 12 years ago.

Unable to understand how or why this can happen Beth decides to investigate and becomes utterly obsessed with finding out the truth and explaining what she has seen.

At no point during the book did I have an "aha" moment and work out what, how or why and I was completely flumoxed myself and kept reading to try to find out and understand what had happened to Flora and her 2 children.

Beth's obsession and determination to uncover the truth at whatever cost to her and her marriage, career and family was, in my opinion, bordering on unbelievable (especially regarding her attitude to her daughter's GCSE revision) and therefore I began to question the storyline as a mother.

I realise that psychological/mystery/suspence books are fictional and are designed to trick the reader but for me this story lacked credibility and the reveal left me disappointed.
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A good read much better than the previous outings from Sophie Hannah. Interesting characters and more twists and turns. I enjoyed it.
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