Haven't They Grown
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?

Haven't They Grown Details

TitleHaven't They Grown
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2020
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Rating
GenreThriller, Mystery, Fiction

Haven't They Grown Review

  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    This is So Wild! THIS IS SOOOO CRAZY! IF YOU LOVE YOUR BRAIN AND NOT TO GET EXPLODED SO EASILY BE CAUTIOUS AS YOU READ THIS BOOK! This is nassstyyy and I enjoy it wholeheartedly! I found my fictional soul mate: obsessive character reader, has no limits and never cares when somebody warns her to stop, a quiet young version Of Miss Marple and a little mature version of Nancy Drew, keeps digging and digging till she finds the truth! Yes! I’m talking about DEAR BETH (our absolutely nuts, extremely This is So Wild!😨😱 THIS IS SOOOO CRAZY! IF YOU LOVE YOUR BRAIN AND NOT TO GET EXPLODED SO EASILY BE CAUTIOUS AS YOU READ THIS BOOK! This is nassstyyy and I enjoy it wholeheartedly! I found my fictional soul mate: obsessive character reader, has no limits and never cares when somebody warns her to stop, a quiet young version Of Miss Marple and a little mature version of Nancy Drew, keeps digging and digging till she finds the truth! Yes! I’m talking about DEAR BETH (our absolutely nuts, extremely risk taker heroine) who passes through her ex-friend Flora’s house (they had stopped talking for 12 years) and she finds her friend leaves the house with her children but WAIT A MINUTE! Something is wrong, guys! Her ex-friend she hasn’t been touched with for 12 freaking years should have invented a kind of time machine because her children are exact the same age she had known them. They didn’t get any day older. What is going on, is this a genetic mutation kind of sick, ugly scenario? Or Beth popped up LCD and methamphetamine (I became spelling contest winner with this word!) cocktail before she drove her car and spied her ex-friend in her car while head she was head banging with blasting death metal song?Has Flora’s children been captured by aliens, became friends with Mulder’s sister and replaced by cute, little aliens wearing human costumes?Does Beth suffer from psychological disorder like seeing things they were never there and confusing gnome statues with real children?Or did Beth forget her contact lenses at the house?Is Flora playing mind games with her friend to avenge what she had done to her years ago? Or is everything a part of candid camera show?Do you want to know the truth? Can you handle it? If your answer is already okay, READ THIS BOOK ASAP! It’s smart, it’s mind bending, it’s unputdownable! Even though I was at the dive bar and my friends were singing Karaoke and my traitor husband ate all my wings and nachos (if you stop by Ye Rustic Inn/ Los Feliz-LA, you may probably find me there singing “Feliz Navida”) you, I kept reading it , ignoring drunk crowd because it was soooooooo good!One of the most intriguing, surprising and riveting thrillers of 2020!Oh let’s give an applause to Zannah as best supporting character, Beth’s genius, cool, curious daughter.My only question is where was Beth’s son? He has been mentioned to many times and we saw him at the beginning and till the end the book, he had no line. (At the end he didn’t talk, too and I though he was invisible character or there is something mysterious about him but thankfully he was real! What a relief!)Giving my mysterious, nail biter, hand eater, dream killer, nerve bending four stars!Special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for sharing this heart throbbing book’s ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review. I loved it so much!
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  • Ceecee
    January 1, 1970
    4-5 stars Well, if you like twisty and twistier then this is your book! Beth and Dom have grown apart from Flora and Lewis Brain and haven’t seen them for 12 years. On a whim, Beth decided to go to Newnham House, the last address she has for them. She parks up, sees Flora drive up to the secure gates of the large house, she gets out of the car with two children who she calls Thomas and Emily. What? The Thomas and Emily Beth knew should now be 17 and 15, so what on earth is going on? To describe 4-5 stars Well, if you like twisty and twistier then this is your book! Beth and Dom have grown apart from Flora and Lewis Brain and haven’t seen them for 12 years. On a whim, Beth decided to go to Newnham House, the last address she has for them. She parks up, sees Flora drive up to the secure gates of the large house, she gets out of the car with two children who she calls Thomas and Emily. What? The Thomas and Emily Beth knew should now be 17 and 15, so what on earth is going on? To describe Beth as dogged in her pursuit of the truth is somewhat of an understatement as it is more like obsessive but find the truth she does! This is a very puzzling mystery which Dom wishes she’d drop but she finds she is unable to do so. One of the things I like most about this book is the characters. Although Beth drives you a bit mad with her relentless pursuit, she is very likeable. Her relationship with Dom is great but the standout character for me is their 16 year old daughter Zan (Suzannah) who I just love. She is so funny, perceptive, incredibly smart and also supportive of Beth’s investigation. Yes, of course she should have been studying for her GCSE exams but hey, she’s a smart cookie! Lewis is the character you love to hate, in fact I found my fists clenched at some of his antics. The story is peppered with humour which I like very much but this ceases obviously, once the very dramatic conclusion unfolds. Yes, it’s probably implausible, yes it’s somewhat convoluted, yes some of the characters wouldn’t know truth if it socked them between the eyes but I actually don’t mind very much because it is such an enjoyable read. Overall, I admit that at times I feel like I’d been down the rabbit hole with Alice but at the same time it’s terrifically entertaining, twisty, a bit creepy, weird and strange psychological drama which I couldn’t put down. Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the ARCExpected UK publication 23/1/20
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  • Miriam Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I’d yet to read a Sophie Hannah book, even after they’d come highly recommended by fellow readers. I was therefore very excited to be given the opportunity to read her latest novel “Haven’t They Grown” (also under the title “Perfect Little Children”). “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 Flora, lives near the football ground, that doesn't mean she has to drive past her house and try to I’d yet to read a Sophie Hannah book, even after they’d come highly recommended by fellow readers. I was therefore very excited to be given the opportunity to read her latest novel “Haven’t They Grown” (also under the title “Perfect Little Children”). “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 Flora, lives near the football ground, that doesn't mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. 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 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. As would be expected. However, 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 no taller, no older... Why haven't they grown?”I found the whole premise, once it got going, very far fetched and utterly unrealistic but it didn’t stop me becoming fully invested into finding out exactly why the children hadn’t seemed to age. Told in the first person by Beth Leeson, she can’t believe what she’s seen and is determined to discover the truth at all costs. She has an exceedingly supportive husband, a lot more supportive than I imagine most husbands would be and two very typical teenage kids who made up the very strong family. Zannah the oldest child (though much older than her years mentally) really got into being the detective and relished trying to solve the unexplainable mystery. Although she could be quite annoying, she was a very well developed character and I pictured her quite clearly rolling her eyes at times and sighing in frustration. I did feel the scene with the teacher and the racism an unnecessary filler but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the whole story no matter how impractical most of it was and I found myself happily engrossed. It was very cleverly plotted, if a little complicated but written well, with excellently created characters and a denouement that kept me fascinated. Now that I’ve read my first Sophie Hannah book it certainly won’t be my last and I’d happily recommend “Haven’t They Grown”, it’s well worth a read, just keep in mind it’s entertaining fiction not a passable real life scenario. 4 stars
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  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    This is So Wild! THIS IS SOOOO CRAZY! IF YOU LOVE YOUR BRAIN AND NOT TO GET EXPLODED SO EASILY BE CAUTIOUS AS YOU READ THIS BOOK! This is nassstyyy and I enjoy it wholeheartedly! I found my fictional soul mate: obsessive character reader, has no limits and never cares when somebody warns her to stop, a quiet young version Of Miss Marple and a little mature version of Nancy Drew, keeps digging and digging till she finds the truth! Yes! I’m talking about DEAR BETH (our absolutely nuts, extremely This is So Wild!😨😱 THIS IS SOOOO CRAZY! IF YOU LOVE YOUR BRAIN AND NOT TO GET EXPLODED SO EASILY BE CAUTIOUS AS YOU READ THIS BOOK! This is nassstyyy and I enjoy it wholeheartedly! I found my fictional soul mate: obsessive character reader, has no limits and never cares when somebody warns her to stop, a quiet young version Of Miss Marple and a little mature version of Nancy Drew, keeps digging and digging till she finds the truth! Yes! I’m talking about DEAR BETH (our absolutely nuts, extremely risk taker heroine) who passes through her ex-friend Flora’s house (they had stopped talking for 12 years) and she finds her friend leaves the house with her children but WAIT A MINUTE! Something is wrong, guys! Her ex-friend she hasn’t been touched with for 12 freaking years should have invented a kind of time machine because her children are exact the same age she had known them. They didn’t get any day older. What is going on, is this a genetic mutation kind of sick, ugly scenario? Or Beth popped up LCD and methamphetamine (I became spelling contest winner with this word!) cocktail before she drove her car and spied her ex-friend in her car while head she was head banging with blasting death metal song?Has Flora’s children been captured by aliens, became friends with Mulder’s sister and replaced by cute, little aliens wearing human costumes?Does Beth suffer from psychological disorder like seeing things they were never there and confusing gnome statues with real children?Or did Beth forget her contact lenses at the house?Is Flora playing mind games with her friend to avenge what she had done to her years ago? Or is everything a part of candid camera show?Do you want to know the truth? Can you handle it? If your answer is already okay, READ THIS BOOK ASAP! It’s smart, it’s mind bending, it’s unputdownable! Even though I was at the dive bar and my friends were singing Karaoke and my traitor husband ate all my wings and nachos (if you stop by Ye Rustic Inn/ Los Feliz-LA, you may probably find me there singing “Feliz Navida”) you, I kept reading it , ignoring drunk crowd because it was soooooooo good!One of the most intriguing, surprising and riveting thrillers of 2020!Oh let’s give an applause to Zannah as best supporting character, Beth’s genius, cool, curious daughter.My only question is where was Beth’s son? He has been mentioned to many times and we saw him at the beginning and till the end the book, he had no line. (At the end he didn’t talk, too and I though he was invisible character or there is something mysterious about him but thankfully he was real! What a relief!)Giving my mysterious, nail biter, hand eater, dream killer, nerve bending four stars!Special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for sharing this heart throbbing book’s ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review. I loved it so much!
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    Oh I ADORED this - twistier than you could hope for, a complex involving plot, a seemingly impossible mystery, with each passing page you get more and more addicted, whilst scratching your head in bemusement until Sophie Hannah unravels it all for you and it all makes sense. Clever clever. Also one of my favourite teenage characters in Zannah- a breath of fresh air.Full review to follow for the tour but definitely highly recommend.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    After a standalone and the Poirot novels it's nice to see Hannah going back to one of her 'impossible' mysteries though, sadly, she doesn't bring back her Culver Valley cops. She certainly hasn't lost her touch for wildly convoluted plots and actually delivers a denoument that is as twisted and cruel as we have hoped.That said, Beth can be an irritating narrator with her repetitive inner dialogue (yes, we're keeping up with the story, thanks!), her endless domestic minutiae (ok, fine to tell us After a standalone and the Poirot novels it's nice to see Hannah going back to one of her 'impossible' mysteries though, sadly, she doesn't bring back her Culver Valley cops. She certainly hasn't lost her touch for wildly convoluted plots and actually delivers a denoument that is as twisted and cruel as we have hoped.That said, Beth can be an irritating narrator with her repetitive inner dialogue (yes, we're keeping up with the story, thanks!), her endless domestic minutiae (ok, fine to tell us she's using a lavender face mask in the bath to indicate she needs to calm her anxiety... but I really don't care that it comes in powder form and has to be mixed with water to form a paste - argh, stop!)There are some credibility issues, especially around Zan turning detective with her mother when she should be revising for her GCSEs, but Hannah pulls it all together by the end. I'd have preferred a bit more drip-feed of discoveries to tighten the whole thing up and making it less of a rush to the finish, but Hannah has delivered another labyrinthine page-turner.Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Sid Nuncius
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed Haven’t They Grown. It’s pretty far-fetched in places, but Sophie Hannah always writes very well and has produced another intriguing, readable mystery.The story is told in the first person by Beth Leeson, a mother of two teenagers in Cambridgeshire. The set-up is excellent: she sees a friend from whom she has been estranged for 12 years with her two children who still look five and three years old – as they did twelve years ago. We get Beth’s dogged attempts to solve the mystery, I enjoyed Haven’t They Grown. It’s pretty far-fetched in places, but Sophie Hannah always writes very well and has produced another intriguing, readable mystery.The story is told in the first person by Beth Leeson, a mother of two teenagers in Cambridgeshire. The set-up is excellent: she sees a friend from whom she has been estranged for 12 years with her two children who still look five and three years old – as they did twelve years ago. We get Beth’s dogged attempts to solve the mystery, interspersed with her domestic life. It’s very well done; I especially liked Hannah’s subverting of the old “am I mad/imagining things?” trope we usually get with women (it’s almost always women) in this situation. Beth knows what she saw and won’t be persuaded otherwise, and she’s a tough, determined character who is genuinely concerned about her friend and the children. Another highlight was Beth’s sixteen-year-old daughter Zannah (short for Suzannah, I was relieved to discover), who is brilliantly painted and for me a joy throughout. All Hannah’s characters are very convincing and she structures and paces the book very well. I found things getting just a tad incredible during the last third of the book and rather more than a tad incredible at the denouement, but it’s still an enjoyable, ingenious read from a fine writer of the genre. Recommended.
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  • Sheri
    January 1, 1970
    Sophie Hannah’s books are always hotly anticipated, by me anyway, and always set up incredibly intriguing, apparently inexplicable situations which generally become even more inexplicable and intriguing until the truth is finally unravelled. Here, the premise is two young children - Thomas and Emily, the children of protagonist Beth’s former best friend Flora - who apparently haven’t grown or changed at all in twelve years. Impossible, clearly, assuming science-fictional explanations are ruled Sophie Hannah’s books are always hotly anticipated, by me anyway, and always set up incredibly intriguing, apparently inexplicable situations which generally become even more inexplicable and intriguing until the truth is finally unravelled. Here, the premise is two young children - Thomas and Emily, the children of protagonist Beth’s former best friend Flora - who apparently haven’t grown or changed at all in twelve years. Impossible, clearly, assuming science-fictional explanations are ruled out.The investigation of an apparently inexplicable mystery is one of my favourite types of story and Sophie Hannah never disappoints. I liked Beth’s dogged determination to find the truth - driven both by concern for the children and a simple need to know - and often aided by teenage daughter Zannah (who surely has a glowing future ahead of her). There’s a bit of a danger, when a situation is quite so bizarrely inexplicable, of the actual solution being a bit of a disappointment. But while the denouement here is unavoidably slightly far-fetched - relying on people acting in ways which you can’t really imagine actually happening - it’s still both fair and satisfying.I do miss Charlie and Simon, though. Are they ever coming back?
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  • Alexa
    January 1, 1970
    What a weird ride! I picked up this book for two reasons 1) Sophie Hannah took over for Agatha Christie/Poirot and was wrapped up in the whole Dan Mallory thing (she emerged as the Hero of that piece) and 2) the description had a bizarre, speculative bent to it and I HAD to read to find out what was going on.To that end, this book didn't meet my expectations on some level, though that's also OK... I'm not sure I would have liked a book that did what I thought Perfect Little Children might. What a weird ride! I picked up this book for two reasons 1) Sophie Hannah took over for Agatha Christie/Poirot and was wrapped up in the whole Dan Mallory thing (she emerged as the Hero of that piece) and 2) the description had a bizarre, speculative bent to it and I HAD to read to find out what was going on.To that end, this book didn't meet my expectations on some level, though that's also OK... I'm not sure I would have liked a book that did what I thought Perfect Little Children might. However, I would like to clarify under a spoiler tag exactly what this book ISN'T, in case it guides other readers, re: picking it up. (view spoiler)[In short, there is no sci-fi twist in this book. No speculative explanation for the set-up, which is that the MC sees two children who look EXACTLY like children she knew 12 years ago, except they haven't aged. Now, a massive part of me didn't really think this book would become sci-fi all of a sudden... but you never know! I thought we might get into some freaky clone territory. I would have been Here for such a book, mind you, but it would be a very different book! (hide spoiler)]What this book is: a tense, almost-manic domestic suspense (that's a compliment) where the reader vacillates between "is this an unreliable narrator" and "what f*ckery is this?!" I was constantly trying to puzzle everything out alongside Beth as she threw herself headlong into a series of cringingly embarrassing investigation points. If you LIKE heroines who throw themselves into upsettingly ridiculous places to push forward an investigation, that's Beth. I mean, I was here for it, but there were times I just couldn't believe the steps she took. Some were incredibly stupid, others just so rude. There are also a few turning points that are almost too convenient, but again: I was here for it. But there's one little plot point that felt out of place/out of left field. There's a scene after the mid-point--ie: the part where we SHOULD be working up to the break into three, so everything/scene that happens you're like "what's the next big clue?!"... and then randomly we get Beth being called to school to get her daughter Zannah out of a kerfluffle with her teacher? It's a detour that feels out of place, serving no purpose other than the author doing some progressive posturing. I didn't NEED to see Beth defend her daughter like that--there were already plenty of instances throughout the book solidifying Beth as a mother, and her relationship with Zan. So why did we need this? So it was clear that we don't condone tacit racism in schoolteachers? (Look I agree but it still felt completely out of place.) I kept waiting for a mini-twist where the incident tied to the larger mystery but it didn't. A weird misstep. Other than that, it was an incredibly well-crafted domestic suspense. I was intrigued and sucked in, and read the last 60% in one "staying up until 3 a.m." go. I wanted to know what was going on. Ending was pretty satisfying, and also a bit unsettling--just the way I like it. Sophie Hannah is clearly a pro, and I'd be interested to pick up more of her stuff!
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  • Alison Hardtmann
    January 1, 1970
    Sophie Hannah starts her thrillers with something so bizarre and inexplicable and works forward from there. When it works, the result is a novel that is a lot of fun, even if it might not hold up to a close examination. When it doesn't, the reader is left with an incoherent mess. Perfect Little Children is one with a particularly improbable beginning, and while it never really became believable, it was a novel that I was always eager to get back to. Beth and her best friend parted under Sophie Hannah starts her thrillers with something so bizarre and inexplicable and works forward from there. When it works, the result is a novel that is a lot of fun, even if it might not hold up to a close examination. When it doesn't, the reader is left with an incoherent mess. Perfect Little Children is one with a particularly improbable beginning, and while it never really became believable, it was a novel that I was always eager to get back to. Beth and her best friend parted under acrimonious circumstances twelve years earlier, but that doesn't stop Beth from tracking Flora down and driving by her house. She sees her friend outside, with her two children, but unlike Beth's own two, Flora's children are still the same age they were when Beth last saw them. This is enough to turn Beth's fascination with her old friend into an obsession and no one, not her husband, not Flora herself, can make Beth stop digging into Flora's life. This is the kind of thriller where there aren't any likable characters. Beth is not someone you'd want to know, but neither is anyone else, except perhaps Beth's daughter, who is doing everything she can to avoid revising for exams, but who has the moral center that her parents lack. Hannah knows how to keep a plot moving, rushing from one bizarre situation to the next, constantly fueled by Beth's determination to get to the bottom of things. While I doubt I'll remember the details next week, I did have fun reading it.
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  • Rachel Hall
    January 1, 1970
    Ultimately entertaining but slow to start and a highly convoluted and very twisted tale!Having previously only read a stand-alone by Sophie Hannah I didn’t fully appreciate her reputation for convoluted plots and taking seemingly impossible scenarios and ironing the contradictions out. I was aware of the authors pedigree however and came to Haven’t They Grown with rather high expectations and therefore when the story was slow to expand on the initial premise of a contradictory sighting by Ultimately entertaining but slow to start and a highly convoluted and very twisted tale!Having previously only read a stand-alone by Sophie Hannah I didn’t fully appreciate her reputation for convoluted plots and taking seemingly impossible scenarios and ironing the contradictions out. I was aware of the authors pedigree however and came to Haven’t They Grown with rather high expectations and therefore when the story was slow to expand on the initial premise of a contradictory sighting by protagonist, Beth, I was starting to doubt whether this thriller might be a little too bizarre even for Sophie Hannah to pull out of the bag.Narrated entirely by witty, dynamic massage therapist and mother of two, Beth Leeson, Haven’t They Grown wastes no time in outlining its wacky premise. When Beth’s fourteen-year-old son, Ben, has a regional league football match at a ground just a few streets from the last known address of her university best friend, Flora, and her unpredictable and outré husband, Lewis Braid, she can’t help but be nosy. But with their friendship having disintegrated twelve years ago and Beth and Flora estranged she strikes gold when she catches a glimpse of the family.Catching sight of Flora coaxing her children out of the car, Beth is surprised that she seems so anxious when she is clearly enjoying an opulent lifestyle, but is utterly flabbergasted when her children appear to be exactly that same age that they were when Beth last saw them over a decade ago with Thomas and Emily ages five and three respectively. And where is toddler, Georgina, that Beth so clearly remembers? Discussing with husband of twenty-three years, Dom, Beth’s first port of call is to contact Lewis Braid given his extensive social media presence. Now the CEO of a tech firm in Delray Beach, Florida and with his Instagram feed littered with pictures of teenage Thomas and Emily, surely their old friend Lewis has nothing to hide? When a phone call to Lewis doesn’t quite satisfy or reassure Beth, with several inconsistencies and contradictions thrown up, she starts to wonder if her imagination is playing tricks on her and is compelled to scratch the itch! It takes a significant period of the novel before Beth backtracks and outlines how, why and when things went wrong in her friendship with Flora to both Dom (and readers) and actually establish anything solid to add to the bare bones of what she thinks she knows. As her investigation goes from harmless stalking via social media to amateur detective and finally to her concerns being taken seriously by a police officer, it does require the reader to invest in what often feels like a dubious plot.I cannot say I warmed to any of the characters apart from Beth’s husband, Dom, who simply wanted Beth to get on with the important matter of their own family life, but Beth does convince as the dogmatic obsessive willing to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure her former friend’s safety and satisfy her own innate curiosity. Meanwhile fiercely precocious sixteen-year-old daughter, Zannah, might have made more of a positive impression if only her characterisation hadn’t felt quite so exaggerated.Overall an entertaining, clever and unusual little mystery with a twisted denouement, but I did have to throw myself wholeheartedly into the novel and stick with it. Whilst it’s convoluted, Beth’s narrative is easy to follow with frequent moments of inner dialogue that whilst occasionally annoying see her thrash out and clarify her discoveries to date. Not recommended for readers who like their mysteries grounded in reality and wholly plausible! The puzzle of ‘Chimpy’ is however a stroke of genius!With thanks to Readers First who provided me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.
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  • Terry
    January 1, 1970
    The protagonist Beth, hasn't seen her ex best friend in quite a while, so out of curiosity she decides to drive by their house one day. She catches a peek of her ex friend and children getting into their car and at first glance things look normal. Beth does a hard double take though because the kids are the exact same age as they were when she saw them last, years earlier!From here this book twists and turns, and messes with your mind until the very end. Never boring and great characterizations The protagonist Beth, hasn't seen her ex best friend in quite a while, so out of curiosity she decides to drive by their house one day. She catches a peek of her ex friend and children getting into their car and at first glance things look normal. Beth does a hard double take though because the kids are the exact same age as they were when she saw them last, years earlier!From here this book twists and turns, and messes with your mind until the very end. Never boring and great characterizations will keep you invested and leave you satisfied.
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  • Tracy Fenton
    January 1, 1970
    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 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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  • Donna Maguire
    January 1, 1970
    My review will be live on my blog on 23rd January 2020 - publication day!As soon as I read the blurb for this book I was intrigued and I started reading and was hooked by the first few chapters – this is a book that makes you think, you question what you know is right, or should be and the author takes you on a well woven tale until everything unravelled and I had a fair few OMG and whoa moments on the way!I thought that the characterisation in the book was superb, I loved some, hated and My review will be live on my blog on 23rd January 2020 - publication day!As soon as I read the blurb for this book I was intrigued and I started reading and was hooked by the first few chapters – this is a book that makes you think, you question what you know is right, or should be and the author takes you on a well woven tale until everything unravelled and I had a fair few OMG and whoa moments on the way!I thought that the characterisation in the book was superb, I loved some, hated and despised others, exactly as the other would have planned and wanted. It was a very well-crafted book and she had an additive writing style too. This was definitely a book that I read more than I had planned too in each sitting as I wanted to read just a few pages more each time.It is 4.5 stars from me for this one, rounded up to 5 stars for Goodreads and Amazon - this is an excellent story and very well developed, it had me gripped and it was such a good read!! Very highly recommended!!
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  • Jannelies
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come.
  • PacaLipstick Gramma
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.Wow! I finished this within 24 hours. It was that good.The synopsis of the book is intriguing, and you have a heard time wrapping your brain around how two children couldn't have grown in twelve years. Before reading the book your brain goes through all the scenarios. In the first several pages, every possibility you have gone through has been addressed.And you keep turning the pages because you just need to find out, "just what in the heck is going I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway.Wow! I finished this within 24 hours. It was that good.The synopsis of the book is intriguing, and you have a heard time wrapping your brain around how two children couldn't have grown in twelve years. Before reading the book your brain goes through all the scenarios. In the first several pages, every possibility you have gone through has been addressed.And you keep turning the pages because you just need to find out, "just what in the heck is going on".The only word to describe the tale is...convoluted. Believable story, strong (and weak) characters, great storyline, and an absolute page turner.A couple of times I had to reread because it wasn't making sense, but I attributed to my being distracted...I wanted to jump ahead...figure this mystery out. In a couple parts the story dragged a bit, but again, I attribute it to my antsyness! I couldn't wait to turn the page!I will most definitely be reading this author again. And highly recommend this book.
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  • Jannelies
    January 1, 1970
    Sophie Hanna’s first psychological thriller Little Face came out in 2006 and I’ve been a fan of her ever since. Not that I like every book she’s written equally, but I’m always curious to see what she’s thought up.Beth Leeson is a nice ordinary woman, married to a nice ordinary man, Dominique and their children are quite likable too, especially Zannah, the 16-year old daughter. How they came to be friends with boring Flora and her absolutely horrible husband Lewis, I don’t understand. Apparently Sophie Hanna’s first psychological thriller Little Face came out in 2006 and I’ve been a fan of her ever since. Not that I like every book she’s written equally, but I’m always curious to see what she’s thought up.Beth Leeson is a nice ordinary woman, married to a nice ordinary man, Dominique and their children are quite likable too, especially Zannah, the 16-year old daughter. How they came to be friends with boring Flora and her absolutely horrible husband Lewis, I don’t understand. Apparently the women became friends first, but there is no explanation as to why they became such good friends. And Lewis? Lewis is the sort of man you should be very aware of, and preferably you should run away (maybe literally) as soon as he starts talking to you. The whole story starts out quite strange and becomes rather creepy in places; until the end I qualified this as one of Sophie Hannah’s very best books. Sadly, I didn’t like all the explanations at the end because they felt a very implausible to me. Still, it is a very strong story; you cannot but feel with Beth and her family and admire her determination to safe her friendship with Flora – or what’s left of it. Thanks to Edelweiss for this digital review copy.
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  • Javier
    January 1, 1970
    As soon as I read the blurb for "Perfect Little Children" I got intrigued. The premise was so unusual that I couldn't begin to guess how it would unfold. With such an original starting point, this book could have gone terribly wrong, but nothing further from the truth. The author weaves such an intricately plot that you NEED to keep on reading to try to make some sense of what is happening, making Beth's character and her dogged pursuit of the truth completely relatable. One of the things I As soon as I read the blurb for "Perfect Little Children" I got intrigued. The premise was so unusual that I couldn't begin to guess how it would unfold. With such an original starting point, this book could have gone terribly wrong, but nothing further from the truth. The author weaves such an intricately plot that you NEED to keep on reading to try to make some sense of what is happening, making Beth's character and her dogged pursuit of the truth completely relatable. One of the things I liked the most was how Beth's family gets involved in her investigation as opposed to trying to discredit what she saw and telling her "she's mad". The standout character for me was definitely Zannah, Beth's daughter. I just loved her. She's witty, sharp-minded, funny and an abolute joy as her mother's sidekick in their investigation. I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed reading a teenage character that's not annoying and a complete brat! Twisty and very well developed story with a set of likable characters that will gripp you from page one.Thanks to Edelweiss+ and William Morrow for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Thebooktrail
    January 1, 1970
    Aah when you think nothing really happens in an English village...Sophie Hannah proves otherwise. In a little Cambridgeshire village, a mother takes her boy to the football. Passes a friends house who she hasn't seen for years and has a nosy. Turns out the children are still the same age as they were all those years ago. How? And so starts a very strange but unique novel by the clever twisty hands of Sophie hannah.Aargh it's actually hard to write much more without giving it away. Ok so you have Aah when you think nothing really happens in an English village...Sophie Hannah proves otherwise. In a little Cambridgeshire village, a mother takes her boy to the football. Passes a friends house who she hasn't seen for years and has a nosy. Turns out the children are still the same age as they were all those years ago. How? And so starts a very strange but unique novel by the clever twisty hands of Sophie hannah.Aargh it's actually hard to write much more without giving it away. Ok so you have to suspend your disbelief at times but that's ok, I was fine with that. It's a creepy set up and it goes to show what extremes people will go to in order to have or at least pretend they have the perfect life.Books about children and creepy children that haven't grown up for some reason always fascinate me and this was a good thriller to explore some very interesting themes!
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    Full of twists and turns, ‘Haven’t They Grown’ is a fast paced, unique story that I really enjoyed. I didn’t see the ending coming and I was kept engaged throughout. It’s 4 stars from me!My review: https://whatrebeccasread.wordpress.co...
  • Carol Dimitriou
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a GOODREADS giveaway, and I want to thank GOODREADS and William Morrow, the publisher, for giving me the opportunity to read it before it's publication in February, 2020.I have to say that the preview on the back of the book led me to expect a very different story from what it turned out to be. I expected the book to be very creepy, which it turned out to be, but in a way that I would never have expected. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, so I won't go into it more I won this book in a GOODREADS giveaway, and I want to thank GOODREADS and William Morrow, the publisher, for giving me the opportunity to read it before it's publication in February, 2020.I have to say that the preview on the back of the book led me to expect a very different story from what it turned out to be. I expected the book to be very creepy, which it turned out to be, but in a way that I would never have expected. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, so I won't go into it more deeply. The main character, Beth, is a very strong person, who goes above and beyond to try to help her estranged friend, Flora. Beth does not let anything or anyone stop her from trying to figure out what is wrong, and how to fix it.Read this when it comes out; you won't be sorry!
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  • Lalitha
    January 1, 1970
    Overwrought and completely implausible plot — the twists felt anticlimactic. The only interesting, and frankly, believable character in the book was Zannah, the 17-year old daughter. I wish we had seen/heard more of her story, to be honest.
  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    I spent a lot of time wondering how our main character Beth ,could see two children who hadn't aged in 12 years,and her ex best friend who was currently living in Florida.No amount of thinking was ever going to come up with this story... I was thinking genetic tampering for sure,but the real story was more twisted and creepy than that.A hugely entertaining read.
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  • Catherine
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Net Galley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.Perfect Little Children is the story of Beth and her friendship with Flora. Beth hasn't spoken to Flora in 12 years and is surprised to see her with her two children, who appear to be the exact same age as when she last saw them. I was looking forward to reading this book, as I love a good psychological suspense novel. Unfortunately for me this book just did not deliver. I made myself finish the book, but I found the Thank you to Net Galley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.Perfect Little Children is the story of Beth and her friendship with Flora. Beth hasn't spoken to Flora in 12 years and is surprised to see her with her two children, who appear to be the exact same age as when she last saw them. I was looking forward to reading this book, as I love a good psychological suspense novel. Unfortunately for me this book just did not deliver. I made myself finish the book, but I found the ending underwhelming. The whole story just felt a little disjointed and confusing.
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  • Caroline Kerdouci
    January 1, 1970
    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 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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  • Jellichor
    January 1, 1970
    As soon as I read the blurb - and then the first few chapters - on ReadersFirst, I had to find out the whys, the hows and the 'BUT WHAT THE...??!'We are introduced to Beth - married mother of 2 - who is dropping her son off at football practice... only she has detoured somewhat to the front door of an old best friend who she hasn't seen in 12 years. She's lucky in her timing as she manages to catch a glimpse of her old friend, Flora, who looks the same - only a little older as to be expected - As soon as I read the blurb - and then the first few chapters - on ReadersFirst, I had to find out the whys, the hows and the 'BUT WHAT THE...??!'We are introduced to Beth - married mother of 2 - who is dropping her son off at football practice... only she has detoured somewhat to the front door of an old best friend who she hasn't seen in 12 years. She's lucky in her timing as she manages to catch a glimpse of her old friend, Flora, who looks the same - only a little older as to be expected - and is surprised to see that her 2 children, who were toddlers when she knew them back when and would be teenagers now... are still toddlers. After 12 years. How is this possible?!I instantly had 2 theories - one supernatural and one not - and had to find out if either were correct (they weren't) so spent my points earned through writing reviews on ReadersFirst to claim a copy of my own. It is an uncorrected proof which doesn't look particularly appealing but I didn't let that discourage me and instantly began to read it. I couldn't put it down!Sophie Hannah writes in a very accessible and detailed way which results in a good collection of well rounded characters. We are taken along for the ride in Beth's head, and we also get to know her husband and children - her daughter Zannah was particularly fun to get to know. I have not read any of Sophie's books before but I am definitely going to have a look out for them.Our protagonist goes home and tells her family straight away about what she has discovered, and they all try to guess what the deal this - this kind of transparency and lack of sloooooow reveal was very refreshing! this is what a normal reaction would be and I was relieved to see that the book started off at a good speed. It continues at a constant pace as we experience along side Beth her emotions and eventual discoveries as she quickly decides she is not going to let this go. Now at this point (and indeed at a few others in the course of the book) you have to suspend belief somewhat as most people would just discuss it indoors in detail, speculate, perhaps try to find out some information in a roundabout way, then leave it be and carry on with their own lives. But for the purpose of the story this wouldn't work of course! So we run with the understanding that Beth herself knows that it is imperative this not be left alone. The suggestion of a secret between Beth and Flora - the explanation for the 12 years of separation - is hinted at early on and this also peaked my interest. I just hoped that both questions would be answered!...and they were. However I must say I was a little disappointed at the outcome and explanation for why the children had not aged. It does clarify things (mostly) but this is one of those other points where you need to suspend belief a little and understand that you cannot know what you would do in any given situation unless you have experienced it for yourself. Physically, emotionally and mentally. Overall though, I didn't feel like my time had been wasted once I came to the end of the book. I enjoyed it! and would recommend it as an intriguing, well written, mystery thriller.Thank you to ReadersFirst, Sophie Hannah and Hodder & Stoughton for the uncorrected proof copy received in return for an honest review. All views and opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Callie Hill
    January 1, 1970
    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 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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  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    There’s a classic French novel called Le Grand Meaulnes, which is basically in two parts. The first is about a runaway schoolboy who stumbles into a marvelous, fairy tale experience in an isolated, ancient mansion in the countryside. The second half is the prosaic, logical explanation of this seemingly magic occurrence and the resulting quotidian grind of real life. In a way it’s satisfying to know what really happened, but in another way you want to rip the book in two and throw the ending out There’s a classic French novel called Le Grand Meaulnes, which is basically in two parts. The first is about a runaway schoolboy who stumbles into a marvelous, fairy tale experience in an isolated, ancient mansion in the countryside. The second half is the prosaic, logical explanation of this seemingly magic occurrence and the resulting quotidian grind of real life. In a way it’s satisfying to know what really happened, but in another way you want to rip the book in two and throw the ending out of the window. Or in the words of the marvelously named Sacheverell Sitwell, “In the end, it is the mystery that lasts and not the explanation.”Which brings me to Sophie Hannah’s latest work of suspense, Perfect Little Children. The set up is immensely compelling -- heroine Beth is driving her son to a soccer game and gives into the temptation to have a quick detour to peek at the palatial home of her one time best friend Flora and her husband who, after his professional success, have moved to a ritzy address. Beth still smarting and guilty about their break up twelve years ago, and not even sure if her former friends still live there, but then she sees Flora, who is accompanied by two small children she calls by familiar names, and everything seems just as it was when they were close. But that’s the problem -- the children are clearly still children, and haven’t grown up, appearing exactly as they did twelve years ago.A wild investigation ensues, as Beth unwinds an extremely tangled skein in a fast moving first person, present tense narrative. The reader and Beth both know she wasn’t hallucinating, but her placid husband Dom and various authorities aren’t so sure. There’s active push back from elusive Flora and her manipulative husband Lewis, as succeeding smokescreen scenarios are presented to be debunked by the dogged Beth, who has no compunction about pursuing every trail, eventually flying to Florida to ferret out the ultimate truth.Sophie Hannah has proven herself adept at dramatizing the domestic details that bring a narrative to life, and a there’s a welcome focus here on the friendships between women, those relationships that can be as fraught and redemptive as the romances that usually preoccupy fiction. Oh, and there’s the denouement too, clever and largely credible, delivered by a voluble villain who explains the whole thing while holding the heroine at gunpoint. It’s almost inevitably a mild letdown, but, oh, what a set up and what a ride there.
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  • Debra Oehlberg
    January 1, 1970
    "I spent a lot of time wondering how our main character Beth could see two children who hadn't aged in 12 years and her ex best friend who was currently living in Florida." This quote is part of another reviewer's summary of Perfect Little Children, but it so summarizes the mental wild goose chase my brain played throughout the book. This reviewer thought genetic tampering was an explanation. I wondered if it was some kind of fantasy/ghost theme. In fact, that puzzling mystery almost keeps you "I spent a lot of time wondering how our main character Beth could see two children who hadn't aged in 12 years and her ex best friend who was currently living in Florida." This quote is part of another reviewer's summary of Perfect Little Children, but it so summarizes the mental wild goose chase my brain played throughout the book. This reviewer thought genetic tampering was an explanation. I wondered if it was some kind of fantasy/ghost theme. In fact, that puzzling mystery almost keeps you from paying attention to all the other things that are not "quite right" in the story. But be reassured, it is VERY unlikely you will guess the plot until nearly the end. Twisted is a good word to describe this book. Since this did not end up being a fantasy book, I rated it based on the believability. We live in a wicked world where people do bad things to others, things that even shock me at age 56. Assuming this COULD have been based on a true story, I rated it four stars out of five. There were some things mentioned that still don't "flow" or make total sense to me. For instance, in the beginning, Beth is wondering about her friends Flora and Lewis. Out of the blue, 12 years later, decides to make a football championship playoff a reason to "accidentally" veer off the route to go to the house where they lived last, after being cut out of their lives. Why 12 years later? What was the triggering motive? Also, at the end, when the gun is being pointed and ready to use (deliberately being vague as not to give away the ending), who do you know who is angry and intent to kill who walks around and "forgets" that he has a gun he needs to use, because he is in the middle of a rant? I did think the ending was realistic regarding the two older children. I love happy endings and no mysteries at the end, but even though the book ended on a slightly sour note, there was a hint that it could change. And I loved Flora's daughter, Zannah. She is more astute than her daddy in knowing who her mom is and what she was capable of doing. The book left the two characters Kevin and Yanina a mystery, but since they were not main characters to the plot, it really doesn't leave me wanting to know more about how much they knew, and if they had any evil intentions among themselves. Not a page of this book was boring. Each time I put it down, I was ready the next time to pick up where I had left off.
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  • Linda Hepworth
    January 1, 1970
    Beth and Flora used to be best friends, but their friendship ended abruptly twelve years ago and they’ve not spoken to each other since then. However, over the years Beth has often thought about her old friend and one day, when she is driving her son Ben to his Under-14s away match, she remembers that Flora lives very close to the football ground. Although she asks herself why she should do something which is bound to dredge up painful memories, once she has dropped her son off, she cannot Beth and Flora used to be best friends, but their friendship ended abruptly twelve years ago and they’ve not spoken to each other since then. However, over the years Beth has often thought about her old friend and one day, when she is driving her son Ben to his Under-14s away match, she remembers that Flora lives very close to the football ground. Although she asks herself why she should do something which is bound to dredge up painful memories, once she has dropped her son off, she cannot resist driving past Flora’s house, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of her. As she waits in her car outside the house, Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, arrive home but as they step out of the car Beth realises there’s something terribly wrong because whilst Fiona looks the same, just a bit older, the children, who were five and three years old when she last saw them, haven’t changed at all, they still look five and three. Although Beth cannot understand it, when she hears Flora call them by their names she has to accept that they must be Thomas and Emily … but why haven’t they grown? And why is there no sign of baby Georgina? This story follows Beth as she attempts to solve this mystery and to persuade her family, and others, that something sinister is going on. Her husband, Dom, initially thinks she shouldn’t interfere, and once numerous Instagram postings appear to show that Flora, her husband Lewis and their teenage children, are alive and well, and living in Florida, he tries to persuade her that she needs to let it go. However, Beth knows what she saw, and the fact that Georgina doesn’t appear in any of the images, makes her ever-more determined not to give up until she finds out what’s going on. However, she discovers that she has an enthusiastic and perceptive ally in her teenage daughter Zannah, who very quickly becomes as keen as her mother to uncover the truth, no matter what it takes ... although some of her enthusiasm is probably generated by the fact that she will do absolutely anything to avoid having to revise for her GCSEs! As the story develops, the details of what led to the breakdown in the friendship between Beth and Flora, and the subsequent lack of contact between the two families, are gradually revealed, adding an extra psychological dimension to the mystery. I don’t want to risk spoiling the story by giving too much detail about the direction Beth’s investigations take but I was impressed by the author’s exploration of the two major themes which are central to the plotting. One being the corrosive effects a coercive relationship can have, firstly on the victim’s self-esteem and then on their capacity to act independently, and the other being the power of friendship and loyalty. One of Sophie Hannah’s reliable strengths as a writer lies in her observations of human behaviour, so I found that each of the characters in this story was superbly well-drawn, with even the more disagreeable behaviour of some of them feeling disturbingly recognisable!I’m a huge fan of Sophie Hannah’s writing style and so was very keen to read this stand-alone novel, confident that there would be a number of unpredictable twists and turns as the story developed. There were certainly plenty, although I do have to admit that there were moments when I found myself thinking that there aren’t many authors as capable as she at making her readers willing to suspend disbelief! However, I was happy to settle back and enjoy the roller-coaster ride, probably because I felt utterly confident that there would be a psychological integrity to the outcome of the storyline. I’ve always loved her rather gothic imagination and, although I did find the story rather slow to begin with, it soon became unputdownable and, ultimately, didn’t disappoint! With thanks to the publisher and Readers First for an uncorrected ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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