Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 23rd January 2020
Reviewed: 13th January 2020
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 that 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.
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.
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley
for an Advance Review Copy of this book
in return for an honest and unbiased review.
About the Author
Sophie Hannah is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling writer of crime fiction, published in forty-nine languages and fifty-one territories. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. In 2014, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate, Sophie published a new Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, which was a bestseller in more than fifteen countries. She has since published two more Poirot novels, Closed Casket and The Mystery of Three Quarters, both of which were instant Sunday Times Top Ten bestsellers.
In 2013, Sophie’s novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. She has also published two short story collections and five collections of poetry – the fifth of which, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A Level and degree level across the UK. Most recently, she has published a self-help book called How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment – The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life.
Sophie has recently helped to create a Master’s Degree in Crime and Thriller Writing at the University of Cambridge, for which she is the main teacher and Course Director. She is also the founder of the DREAM AUTHOR coaching programme for writers. She lives with her husband, children and dog in Cambridge, where she is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College.