Haven't They Grown by Sophie Hannah

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah. My thanks to Jenny Platt at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a proof copy for review.

Blurb

All Beth had 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.

Why haven’t they grown?

Review

This book had me from the blurb. I mean….it’s pretty out there! And so, before I had read a single word of the actual book, my mind was firing on all cylinders trying to figure out a solution, and it was a state of mind which did not let up the entire way through. I was utterly captivated and quite frankly pretty annoyed at those pesky Christmas festivities for coming between me and finding out what was happening!

It’s actually quite a difficult book to review in many ways, definitely in terms of the story, as beyond the blurb, I don’t want to give anything away and a lot of the notes I made during reading are useless for that very reason. I will say that Haven’t They Grown is the first novel I’ve read by Sophie Hannah, but it won’t be my last. I found her storytelling to be incredibly compelling and I became hooked very quickly. I particularly enjoyed that from that startling and mind-boggling premise, that the story felt to develop organically from the choices and actions of the characters, rather than having twists for twists sake crammed into the narrative.

I very much enjoyed the characters, particularly Zannah, Beth’s teenage daughter. I’m not usually a massive fan of teen characters in books, I think that generally they remind of why I hated being a teenage girl. But Zannah is smart, sassy and thankfully dialed down on the teenage angst to the point that she became a real scene-stealer for me.

Her mother, Beth tells the story from a first person perspective and her own guilt and secrets impact the narrative enough that I questioned her motives, her words and even, at times her sanity. Despite all this, I identified with her as a mother and as a woman. I was truly torn as to how I should feel about her. I enjoyed being toyed with as a reader, and I thought that Sophie Hannah did this beautifully through this character.

The story itself was paced perfectly. I never felt frustrated and I never felt bored at any point, I felt on edge; if I skipped a word that it might hold a vital clue or important plot development. I was led down the garden path with my wild theories more than once, but isn’t that part of the excitement of the genre?

Smart psychological suspense which shines a light on the darkly domestic and intricacies of human behaviour. Sophie Hannah has a brand new fan in me.

About the Author

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer, translated into 49 languages and published in 51 countries. Her psychological thriller The Carrier won the Specsavers National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year in 2013. Sophie is the author of the bestselling Poirot continuation mysteries. The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives have been adapted for television as Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Sophie has also created a Master’s Degree in Crime and Thriller writing at the University of Cambridge, of which she is the main teacher and course director. Sophie is also a bestselling poet who has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE and A-Level. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her family.

*I received a proof copy of Haven’t They Grown from the publisher. The decision to read was my own, and this review forms my honest opinion.

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