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?
Trigger Warnings:Miscarriage, Infant Death, Abortion, Child Abuse
– My Thoughts –
Perfect Little Children is a standalone thriller/psychological suspense, also known as “Haven’t They Grown”, from the author of The New Hercule Poirot Mysteries and other mystery novels. Even though this book had an interesting premise, I found it a bit too far-fetched in some places.
Beth, our protagonist, takes a detour while dropping off her son at his football match. My confusion, my “head-scratching” starts from here. I wondered why would she suddenly park her car in front of her ex-best friends’ old house. Flora and Lewis Braid who were once close friends of Beth and her husband’s, have now moved to Florida with their three children. After dropping off her son at his match, Beth drives back to her friends’ old house and notices Flora Braid entering her home. However, that’s not THE surprise. The surprise is that Flora’s two children Thomas and Emily looked exactly like they would’ve 12 years ago.
The story gets crazier from here on and I had to constantly remind myself that this is fictional.
After Beth drives back home, she confides in her husband and daughter Zannah and both of them are dubious about the whole incident but Beth has unwavering faith in what she saw. So, she starts investigating and her daughter starts helping her too; soon, they realize that indeed something sinister is going on. Beth’s husband was also supportive of her need to uncover the secrets despite being aggravated by her obsession at times. There are several twists which with the pace demand your attention to the book; however, all the build-up gave way to a very dissatisfying ending.
What I didn’t like was every time Beth reminded Zannah to revise for her GCSEs, she was the one who quickly forgot about it. I would’ve liked to see Beth’s son solving these mysteries alongside his parents and sister too but we see very little of him. I have already mentioned how disappointed I was with the conclusion.
Overall, I would recommend this book if you loved Sophie Hannah’s previous books or if you’re looking for a mind-bending thriller with a unique premise.
Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
– About the Author –
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets.
Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth, Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. She is forty-one and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. She is currently working on a new challenge for the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective.
Thank you for reading! Will you add Perfect Little Children / Haven’t You Grown to your tbr? Have you read any of the author’s previous books? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!