Haven’t They Grown – What is Beth’s friend hiding?
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 ex-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 for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.
But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House 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. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily 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 – Hilary 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?
Duffy’s Thoughts on Haven’t They Grown
Sophie Hannah has a reputation for writing gripping psychological thrillers, however, this is the first one from this author that I’ve read. I had read her non-fiction book How To Hold A Grudge which really wasn’t for me and I hoped that by picking up a thriller by Hannah, I’d get to see some great writing.
Beth fell out with her best friend twelve years ago and on a chance encounter ends up at her friend’s house, but her children haven’t aged one bit. Beth, with the help of her daughter Zanna and husband, tries to unravel the strange reason why these children haven’t aged and what the big secret is the Baird’s seem to be hiding.
The premise of Haven’t They Grown is unique and intriguing, and I was definitely gripped for the first half of the book, but after that, I have to say that I sadly lost interest. I skipped a few pages which I felt were a bit repetitive; Beth won’t let it go, husband tells her to let it go, teenage daughter says something sassy and sparks a clue, repeat. Beth has a 14-year-old son too, who is the reason this chance encounter happens but doesn’t seem to make much of an appearance for the rest of the book.
There was no big A-HA! twist in this book and although domestic thrillers have crazy plot twists (Gone Girl, The Silent Patient), there was something which didn’t quite grab me when the reveal came, it didn’t seem to have any weight or credibility, (I don’t want to share spoilers), although this could largely be down to me not particularly caring for Flora who I found a bit whiney and Beth who probably should have been focussing a bit more on her kids.
Usually, books pick up towards the end as they head to the big twist and reveal, but for me, the best bit was at the beginning. I’m keen to read some of Sophie’s other thrillers though, as I can see she is a solid suspense writer. Hopefully, third times a charm for me!