Cover Image: A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

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Member Reviews

This book is not for me. I do not like courtroom thrillers, and the language barrier really was hard for me.
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First, let me thank netgalley and the publishers for approving my request for an early release of this book.  All reviews of my netgalley books can be found on goodreads and youtube.  Please be sure to check out the links attached.
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I really enjoyed this book, the characters were well developed.  It had an interesting plot. I would be interested in reading more
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Everything about this book was intriguing to me. From the cover, the synopsis, the setting, all of it.
I expected a book that was going to keep me guessing until the very last page. I expected a book that would keep me engaged the whole time.

I guess I got that? It was definitely an easy book to read and I did find myself captured by the story. But nothing really stood out to me to make this an unforgettable read. The ending of this book was very well done and I do think that was quite memorable.

Would I recommend this book to people? Sure. I do think there are people out there that would enjoy this, especially if they are fans of domestic thrillers or books set in interesting places.

I'll definitely read other books by this author, though. I do think the writing and characters were very well done.
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Welcome to Scandinavia – again (and again).  Sweden, in this case, but not just another Scandinavian mystery novel.  Yes, there’s a murder, and no, we’re not sure who the murderer is, but the mystery is not the story.  The murder may be the reason we have a story, but it is not the story.  The Sandells, the nearly normal family, now there’s the story.  Adam Sandell is a minister in the Church of Sweden, and his wife Ulrika is an attorney.  Daughter Stella is turning eighteen, finishing school and dreaming of traveling on her own in Asia.  Always a headstrong girl, she’s highly intelligent, but likes control and is quick to anger.  Stella loves her parents but is a challenging daughter, and as a friend, she is loyal to a fault.  She stands firm in her individuality, refusing to be anyone other than her unique self.  And she stands accused of murder.

Adam and Ulrika Sandell love each other deeply.  They love Stella as only parents can, but each relates to her quite differently, and their reactions in the face of the charges against her are markedly different as well.  A pastor and an attorney and all that is presumed to entail:  morality, ethics, beliefs, legal and religious standards, personal integrity.  Firm convictions and principles.  Holding fast on higher ground.  Really?  Is it humanly possible?  In these circumstances?  I’d guess so; I’d certainly hope so.  Is it possible for this particular pair, though?

As robust a cast of characters as you’ll find, and as flawed as human beings come.  None will elicit your complete sympathy throughout.  The murder victim himself is pretty despicable, and, in fact, I’m not sure Mr. Edvardsson could have pulled his concept off if the victim had been worthy of our concern.   So then . . . are some less-worthy people more worthy of murder?  Interesting question.  Here’s another:  Did Stella kill him?  You know, I almost felt like I became a character in this book because there are decisions to be made, big, crucial ones; and so many people are in over their heads.  And that’s where you come in.  Calmer, unbiased heads must take a look.  Readers, in all your infinite wisdom, I guess it’s up to you.  Enjoy Sweden.
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I loved this book. It was a little slow for me in the beginning, but it definitely picked up and was an amazing thriller. I would love to read more from this author.
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Thank you NetGalley & Celadon Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my honest review. 

“You may think there are things you’re incapable of doing, but they suddenly seem natural when it comes to protecting your child.”
5  S T A R  R E A D!! 
My goodness!!.. What a book. I was engrossed in this story of Stella, Adam, & Ulrika. I couldn’t flip through the pages fast enough and each chapter left me wanting more. I LOVE books where you try to guess WHODUNIT! I thought I knew who really did the crime of killing Chris and then my guess kept changing. (At least 3x)  If you are a fan of thrillers and court drama, this one is for you!!
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A slow start. A slow end. But a really good middle. Like a sandwich with iffy bread but excellent filling? The story is of a young woman being tried for the murder of a man she developed an in appropriate relationship with and is told in three parts: her father, herself, and her mother. Despite the three views, I still felt like the reader didn't get all the story. I also felt like the author expected too much on the part of his characters. The fall out was much less than it probably would have been, if this had happened in real life. And the characters behaved in a much too reserved a manner, even considering the father's actions. So while I did enjoy the book, and expect that many others will as well, it did not hold me and compel me the way I had anticipated it would.
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This was such a good book. It was one that kept me wanting more and more. A family not knowing what exactly is going on for so long.

Great characters. Great story development. Just a well rounded and suspenseful story that will keep you turning the pages until the very end. This was one that I was not certain about until I started reading it and could not put down. I didn’t even want to sleep. It is so well written and full of all the things I love in a book. I felt many emotions reading this book.

Thank you #NetGalley, #Anearlynormalfamily, and Celadon books for the eARC of this. These are my own thoughts and review.

I give it 4.5 stars and a high recommend.
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Celadon Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of A Nearly Normal Family. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Eighteen year old Stella Sandell stands accused of murder, much to the astonishment and horror of her family. As a pastor, Stella’s father Adam has never wavered from the side of right, but will his strong sense of morality be tested as the evidence is mounted against his daughter? Will her mother Ulrika, a criminal defense attorney whose job it is to protect her clients from the worst that the judicial system has to offer, do what she must to help Stella?

The story is told in three parts, with Adam, Stella, and Ulrika each taking a turn describing their inner thoughts and feelings. I did not mind this unique format, but it does highlight a problem with the novel. Each of the three characters has something to hide and none are completely honest, so it is hard to know if the actual truth is being told. When it comes down to it, the novel is basically a courtroom drama, with the morality of a normal family in question. I liked the book, but was not blown away by it, so I would be hesitant to recommend it to other readers.
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This book was very interesting. The story takes place in Sweden.  An 18 year old girl is arrested for the murder of an older businessman. Her father is a pastor, her mother a lawyer.  The story is told from several perspectives, starting with the father, then the mother and lastly the daughter.  All is not how it seems at first.  The daughter's childhood was troubled and the reader is left wondering if the murder is simply a result of her childhood.  But then as more background is provided, the reader is left wondering if she really is capable of murdering someone or if there is more to the story.  A very interesting and quick read.
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I expected a thriller, when it was really more family drama. I kept waiting for a twist, for some secret to be revealed, but instead it was all as anticipated. Interesting read, but not my cup of tea. 
Thanks to Netgalley for the pre release ebook.
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley.  

This book definitely exceeded my expectations.     Great character development.   Great storyline.
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Every now and then, I step away from the mom-lit or the chick-lit and read a book that is outside of my comfort zone. A Nearly Normal Family falls into this category. Let's start with the Goodreads synopsis:

M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader to consider: How far would you go to protect the ones you love? In this twisted narrative of love and murder, a horrific crime makes a seemingly normal family question everything they thought they knew about their life—and one another.

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, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Family asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

I don't know if I would necessarily classify this book as a "legal thriller." I hear that and I think of someone being on trial after a whodunit feel leading up to the capture. But I learn something new everyday. Today's lesson: what is a legal thriller? According to Wikipedia:

"The legal thriller is a subgenre of thriller and crime fiction in which the major characters are lawyers and their employees. The system of justice itself is always a major part of these works, at times almost functioning as one of the characters. In this way, the legal system provides the framework for the legal thriller much as the system of modern police work does for the police procedural."

When you put it in those terms, then yes - this is a legal thriller. We find ourselves introduced to the Sandell family. We have the recently turned 18-year old, Stella, who is your stereotypical "teenager." She wants nothing to do with her family, and has dreams of her future. Her mom is a defense attorney, and her overbearing father is a pastor. The story is told in each of their voices. We start with the father's voice, where we set the story up of Stella being accused of murder. We learn how far her father will push his beliefs and morals without asking questions. We also see a glimpse into the past of the relationship with Stella, through his eyes. 

The second section is told through Stella's voice. We see some of the same memories, but now viewed through Stella's POV, and learn how she is getting along in jail while she awaits trial.

We round off this story with the trial, as told through the mother's eyes. Given she is a defense attorney, we see how Switzerland's justice system works, for better and worse. We learn family secrets, the lengths she would go to protect her daughter, and the outcome of the trial. And why the murder happened.

This book was a fast read for me. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. I would read it at work, while the kids were napping - I could not get enough! Do I agree with everything the parents did? I don't know. I tried to put myself in their shoes. Would I go crazy like the dad? I would want to, but knowing myself, I wouldn't dare. Would I do what the mom did? That's more my speed. Would I lie to my husband? Hell yes - he's a horrible liar and is better off learning the details after the fact. I hope to never confirm these beliefs, but you just never know what life will throw at you. 

I do recommend this, but with a caution that the book does have triggers in it. I enjoyed the writing style, and felt the difference in voices. I always appreciate seeing the same event through multiple POV's. Try it out, but have a light and fluffy book on stand-by for when you finish reading it!
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This was an excellent thriller/family drama. It also was a legal type thriller. It really kept you on the edge of your seat and wondering how it was going to end.
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This book illustrates perspectives from the father, the daughter, and the mother which expresses their versions of what and how things happened. I couldn't tell until close to the end who actually committed the crime.  Great mystery!
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This was such an amazing read that I couldn’t put it down. It went everywhere with me. To the doctors office, the dentist, the eye doctor. IT WENT ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. I was so sad when it ended that I immediately went and bought more books from this author!
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Captivating, suspenseful, entertaining novel! This beautiful thriller kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it! Would highly recommend to those who enjoy this genre.
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I'm in the definite minority on this one, but A Nearly Normal Family did nothing for me. The idea and the writing are both average, which is okay, but I was expecting more from this thriller based on its description. I would say it's a good airport read in that in the end, it's utterly forgettable.
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I like the concept of the plot, how a "normal" family become wrapped up into a murder trial for a well-known resident of their town. The families morals are put into play when the daughter of a priest and a lawyer is the lead suspect in a murder trial. The suspense comes into play because Stella has all of the background characteristics of someone who could snap and kill someone, as well as lack of an alibi and evidence. The perspective of the father, daughter, and trial is an interesting take and leads you guessing up until the end. 

The reason my rating is low, is because Adam, the father, plot goes by really slow. In addition, the writing for his part is short and choppy, which took me out of the story. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Stella's perspective of into the potential murderer's mind as well as her time in jail, the lead up, and the finale. 

I would recommend this book for people who enjoy more of a character, slow-burn story, versus edge of your seat, action driven mystery.
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