A Nearly Normal Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

I lucked out majorly in receiving A Nearly Normal Family from NetGalley.  This book by M.T. Edvardsson was released by Celadon Books on 06/25/19.

When 18 year old Stella Sandell is accused of murdering a man 15 years older than her, Stella's parents feel compelled to defend her.  Her father (a pastor) and her mother (a lawyer) stretch their morals and beliefs as they struggle to free their daughter, while the rest of the town is screaming for her punishment.

This book was told in three parts-the father, the daughter, and the mother.  This was a unique take on a typical court situation and I really enjoyed it. I loved the layout of the book.  It was super interesting to each viewpoint without the others mixed in.  I was hooked from page 1.  I actually annoyed when I had to put this book down to run errands or work.  The father's part was probably my favorite.  It was so sincere.  I could really feel his pain through the pages as he struggled between his job and congregation against his daughter and wife.  Stella's viewpoint was equally as fascinating to me.  Teenagers can be annoying in books, or written the same way over and over.  I didn't mind Stella, even though she was quite selfish and vane.  The mother's part fell a little flat for me.  I left it wanting more. 

My biggest complaint about this book is that I read finished it and immediately wanted more of a resolution.  I wanted to continue with the family to see what happened after.  There's a rumor going around in the bookstagram community that there will be another book.  I really hope that's true.  I NEED to know what happened next.  Please Mr. Edvardsson, give us another book following the Sandell family!!!

🌟🌟🌟🌟/5 Stars
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A Nearly Normal Family centers around a pastor, his wife (a lawyer), and their teenage daughter, Stella. They appear to be the model family but in reality, they are constantly struggling to put out fires caused by Stella’s uncontrollable behavior and anger issues. Things go from bad to worse when Stella is arrested and charged with the murder of a 35-year old man. 

Aside from it being extremely well-written, the set-up of this book was a nice change from others I’ve read. The story held my attention from start to finish because I was able to experience three different versions of one tragic night. Those separate storylines revealed that things aren’t always what they seem and that certain circumstances can force you to go against your core beliefs. Stella and her parents’ morals are put to the test and whether or not you agree with what happens, you’ll understand that no one really knows what they’re capable of when it comes to love. The best part of this book is when everything is revealed and begins to wrap up, the author flips it all around with JUST ONE SENTENCE! 

Add this to the top of your TBR pile! It will definitely be one of your favorite summer reads!
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In some ways, Stella Sandell is an average teenager. In other ways, she is anything but. On the one hand, she just wants to spend time with her friends, dance and drink and flirt, and save her earnings from H&M for an amazing trip through Asia. 

On the other hand, Stella’s on trial for murder. 

Stella’s father is a pastor, and he’s struggling with feelings of helplessness regarding the justice system. He’s blaming himself for his shortcomings as a father. He is questioning his moral compass. He pushes for answers. He pushes his daughter’s lawyer, he pushes his wife, he pushes his wife, and he pushes their friends until he can’t do anything except worry. 

Stella’s mother is a well respected attorney. She understands aspects of Stella’s defense better than anyone. But as the days and weeks go by without getting to see her daughter, with Stella locked up with no visiting privileges, her mother fights within herself. Getting Stella exonerated, and keeping her family together, is going to take all of her strength. And while she and Stella have struggled through the years, she knows that this is something she has to do for her daughter, to make sure she has a future. 

A Nearly Normal Family is not your average thriller. A slow burn unwinding of a family’s story, it’s powerful in a quiet way. The Swedish novel by M. T. Edvardsson is told in three parts. The first part is the story of Stella’s arrest and trial through her father’s eyes. The second part is told by Stella herself, and the third part is the perspective of her mother. Taken together, the three strands of A Nearly Normal Family weave together to show the whole picture of a family through a series of traumatic events that ends with a man losing his life and an 18-year-old girl on trial. 

A Nearly Normal Family is a beautifully told story of a family in crisis, of three individuals whose lives could blow apart at any moment. It’s a story of how relationships develop and diverge, how family relationships make us who we are and threaten to tear us apart. I really loved how this novel drew me in with the emotion of the story and then walked me through to the facts of the crime. While Stella’s family isn’t perfect, it is three people who genuinely love each other, and that makes for a moving story. I recommend this one. Added bonus: an interesting look at the Swedish justice system. 

Galleys for A Nearly Normal Family were provided by Celadon Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.
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Normal is subjective, right? It would seem so in this drama that's bursting at the seams with family dysfunction. There has been a lot of hype surrounding A Nearly Normal Family, so maybe I had it built up a little too high before I even started reading. Whatever the reason, this one just didn't do it for me. There is some pretty good courtroom drama, which is something I like, but the book is drawn out at times, making it a bit too easy to set aside. Parts of the story are choppy and awkward, but that may be due to the translation, and that's something I can overlook. The deal breaker for me is that this one just didn't hold my interest. In the end, it didn't live up to the hype for me and was much easier to set aside than to pick back up.
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Overall, this was a good, although not-your-typical, legal thriller and a fine representation of the genre of Nordic or Scandi noir. Told from the POV of the three main characters – the father, a pastor in their somewhat small community, the rebellious teenage daughter, and her emotionally distant mother, a successful attorney. Sharing center stage with the criminal aspects, there is a great deal of attention to the family dynamics as well as the moral question “what is lie?”

However, I did not get caught up by the characters or the plot and it was a push to read. Rather than the book, which has many rave reviews, the disconnect may have been because it was a translation or perhaps because the noir genre is not my thing. It should appeal to readers who are fans of the genre.
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A Nearly Normal Family is a legal thriller that grips you from the first page and doesn't let go until the end. It is the story of an 18 year old girl, Stella, who is accused of murdering a 32 year old man. It questions how far would you go to protect your child. It is told from the father's, then the daughter's, and finally the mother's point of view. I couldn't put this down and highly recommend it to all thriller fans. 

I would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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A Nearly Normal Family is a legal thriller depicting the title’s nearly normal family, a pastor husband, lawyer wife, and defiant high school senior. Whene Stella, the daughter is arrested accuseed of murdering her 34-year-old lover, the family reaches a crisis that tested their values and faith in each other. The first part is told by Adam, the father who reflexively lies to give his daughter an alibi and runs about town seeking clues and an alernate suspect. Usually the amateur “detective” is important in solving the crime, but Adam is fairly inept.

The second part of the story is told by Stella, the daughter. She describes her relationship with her father, her friendship with best friend Amina, and her time in jail. Much is made of her therapy sessions. Since she first got in trouble, her parents didn’t really trust her, particularly her father. Their distrust and strictness led to more defiance. Then the third part is told by the mother and is focused more on the trial. She describes her history with her daughter and how she has sometimes preferred Amina, who is so much easier. She thinks she knows what happens and takes a big gamble to save more than just her daughter.

It seems completely realistic, however, that when one of the possible suspects went to the police to accuse him of abusing her, she was dismissed and disbelieved. Her efforts to warn the girls is perceived as stalkerish. Women are simply not believed, even in Sweden. She makes a good potential suspect. So does best friend Amina who seems to cause trouble for Stella by telling tales. Of course, Stella is also a likely suspect.



Perhaps this is a cultural difference, but I was shocked by how little attention was paid by the police, the family, and the lawyers to the age difference between Stella and the man she was on trial for killing. Stella and Amina are high-school seniors and though Stella is eighteen, the idea that it’s no big deal that this man was dating Stella is strange. You would think the police, the neighbors, and the media would see something vile about the murder victim, but it seems to never come up.

Essentially the story is about trust. Can the father, mother, and daughter learn to trust each other?

I received an e-galley of A Nearly Normal Family from the publisher through NetGalley.

A Nearly Normal Family at Celadon Books
M.T. Edvardsson on Goodreads
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How well do you every truly know someone, let alone your own child? There comes a point where we lose touch with who our child has become. A point where we have to trust their judgement and hope that they are making smart decisions. If those decisions veer away from what we hope, how far would you go to protect your child?

Adam and Ulrika are living every parents worst nightmare, their daughter is being accused of murder. A murder that neither of her parents can see her doing, or can they?

As the evidence starts to mount up Stella's parents need to figure out where their loyalties lie and whether they have what it takes to protect the daughter that they love so much. 

Suspenseful and riddled with twists and turns, this book will have you looking for the truth right up to the last page.
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Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon Books for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

A nice solid murder mystery but nothing that made me go "wow". Well done writing at a nice pace made this a pretty quick read and held my interest throughout the story. 
The story is written in short chapters from different perspectives of the relationship between the family, consisting of the 3 main characters, and the possibility the daughter could have murdered somone. 
I love that these characters are as flawed as they come but have a steadfast love for each other. I like a story to have a  family with real life dysfunctional problems instead of a fairytale all is well in the world family! I seem to connect with the story better! 
The plot leaves you speculating "who-done-it" and a surprise ending!
You won't go wrong when you reach for a copy of A Nearly Normal Family! Strong 4 stars!
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A legal thriller told from three different perspectives. Stella, an 18 year old, is accused of murdering a 32 year old man and put in jail to await trial. Her perspective is sandwiched between her father's - he's a pastor - and her mother's - she's a lawyer. The multiple perspectives worked well for me!
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Thanks to NetGalley, Celadon Books, and M.T. Edvardsson for the opportunity to read and review this book - lots to think about from this read!

The Sandell's appear to be a normal family - Adam, is a pastor in the Church of Sweden, Ulrika is a defense attorney, and Stella, the almost 18-year-old daughter trying to save money for a trip to Asia.  When a man is found dead at a nearby playground and Stella is arrested for the murder, everything changes.

Told in an interesting format - first from the viewpoint of Father, then Daughter and Mother as we get the backstory and the case goes through the court system.

We discover that everyone has their secrets and must come to grips with what they will do to save their daughter.

Gripping read - you'll find your thoughts about each character changing along the way.
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5 out of 5 stars


Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon Books for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book for an honest review.

Adam always thought he, his wife Ulrika and their 18 year old daughter Stella were a pretty normal family. That is until one day in late August arrested on suspicion of killing Chris Olsen. Adam who is a pastor finds himself question everything he thought he believed in.

Told from the point of view from each family member the truth slowly begins to unravel.  Adam who is a pastor finds himself questioning everything he thought he believed in.

Told from the point of view from each family member the truth slowly begins to unravel. Stella has never been your average child, she is the type of girl that lives life by her own rules. Yes, she has been a bit wild but could she ever kill someone? Adam certainly doesn't believe she could do something like that. While Adam sets out to prove Stella's innocence, Ulrika does everything to hold their family together even while Stella is incarcerated.

This is a very well written novel and as someone from America I really found it interesting to read about the legal system in Sweden. I wouldn't say that this was a thriller. It was definitely more of a slow burn mystery/family drama/courtroom drama.

I would definitely pick this up if you want to lose yourself in an engaging mystery.
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Wow! With so many thrillers out there right now, A Nearly Normal Family really stands out. When a teenager is accused of killing someone much her senior, her family has to grapple with the impossible. I couldn't put this book down and highly recommend it.
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Stella seems to have an ordinary life for a seventeen-year-old girl. She works at H&M, is bored with school, believes her parents are ruining her life, dreams of a trip to Asia, and is fiercely loyal to her best friend Amina. Her father is a pastor and her mother is a defense attorney, and both are well respected in the community, which makes Stella’s somewhat unconventional behavior a bit concerning. One night Stella and Amina go clubbing, and meet an older man named Chris. Though Amina is fascinated with Chris, it’s Stella who begins a romantic relationship with him. Stella considers this a summer fling, while Chris quickly becomes obsessed with Stella, wanting to control her every move. As Stella tries to break away from Chris, things spiral out of control, leaving Stella standing trial for his murder.

Told from three perspectives, this book begs the question of how far you would go to protect your child from harm. Stella’s parents are upstanding citizens, well-known and well-liked, and yet, they are caught up in a murder trial, sitting helplessly by, hoping for an acquittal but fearing the worst. This is a compelling read with many interesting twists throughout.
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How far would you go to protect the ones you love? 

Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella's father is a pastor and mom is an attorney.  While their relationship wasn't the best, Stella is still their daughter and they both find ways to protect her.  The story goes back and forth between the mom and dad and Amina, Stella's best friend.  I truly could not figure out if Stella was guilty or not.  The author saves this information for the very last pages.  As you sit through the court case you find yourself doubting several parts of what was said and trying to put the puzzle together.  But I honestly can say I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for that verdict.

It's a suspenseful legal thriller that will keep you turning the pages.  Thank you #NetGalley for the chance to read this book.
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A Nearly Normal family is about a Swedish family: the father is a pastor, the mother is a defense attorney and their only child, an 18 year old daughter, stands accused of murdering a local businessman.  The first 30% of the book is told from the father's perspective, the second 30% from the daughter's perspective and the last 30% is told from the mother's perspective.  Each family member gives you different perspective on their family life and what lead up to the situation they are currently in.  I thought it was extremely well done and without giving anything away, I thought it was very powerful.
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Pros: Short chapters, relatively fast paced, even though pretty long. Mostly held my attention but didn't grip me. 
Cons: Extremely predictable. I could have guessed the ending from the beginning. Some of the “back stories” didn't really seem to have anything to do with the current story. The dad is apparently just an idiot. Not terrible but was expecting Much better.
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I received this book for honest feedback from Netgalley as well as Celadon Books. I am obsessed. I loved the fact it was split between the father, daughter, then mother. I loved seeing the same scenes from the different perspectives. I could not put this book down. My idea of what occurred changed with every chapter. It was difficult to tell who was telling the truth, or even telling all of the story. I was pleased with the ending and felt it wasn't obvious from the beginning like most mystery books that are coming out these days. I'm excited to see other translated books from this author now.
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There was a lot of hype around this book and it fell a little flat for me in terms of my reading preferences. I am grateful for the ARC for an honest review of A Nearly Normal Family. The book was told from a multiple point of view that I found to be repetitive. I was really hoping to love this one but I didn't.
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Written in my favorite style of alternating narration, A Nearly Normal Family is a book bound for the big screen. How far would you go to protect your family? When their daughter is charged with murder, Adam and Ulrika are left (much like us readers) flashing back to the days before the crime and trying to solve the mysterious pieces of a local murder. Did their daughter do it? If she did, do you lie to protect your own child? It's a gripping story of morality and ethics applied to a small family facing the unimaginable.
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