Cover Image: A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

So. Look. I had some trouble connecting to the characters in this one. The whole thing left me feeling a little cold. I think in part because of the book’s translation to English, but also- and I’m guessing this was intentional- because the author has done something interesting by taking the traditionally expected genre character tropes and flipping the genders: in this case, the husband is over-dramatic and irrational, while the daughter and wife come across much colder and more calculated. Everyone here is an unreliable narrator hiding something(s), but the women in this book appear to have a lot more control over the situation at hand than the men do. Even the detective overseeing the murder investigation (a woman) knows much more than she’s letting on. With all that being said, you might be scratching your head wondering if I actually liked this book, and I did. A lot. In particular for the reason above, but I also thought the 3-part narrative structure lent itself to the overarching mystery and really allowed for the twists and turns to be revealed in an organic and authentic way. Just a solidly well-executed story that I definitely recommend.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

This is one of my favorite genres to read, and this one pulled me in. The ending wasn't what I was anticipating ... thankfully! Some characters, such as Stella's father, weren't who I initially expected them to be. I haven't read many books based in Sweden, so that was enjoyable.

After his daughter Stella is accused of murder, Adam Sandell is convinced that she is innocent. He decides to do his own investigation to help prove her innocence. 

Stella is accused of murdering her (older) boyfriend. She knows what truly happened, but she's not talking. Her past causes others to view her as the most likely suspect.

Urika is a lawyer and knows what's needed to defend her daughter, and she sets out to get her released from jail. 

Evidence builds, and each family member will be faced with secrets that could either help or hurt Stella's case.

I like how the story was told in three POV's: Adam's (dad), Stella's, and Urika's (mom). That format gives the reader clear insight to all angles of the story as it unfolds. 

The book may leave the reader asking themselves, "How far would I go to protect my family and loved ones?"

I've read a number of books lately from Celadon Books, and they are certainly making a name for themselves in the publishing industry for putting out top-notch books!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.
Was this review helpful?
One thing is for certain, most families are normally dysfunctional.  The Beaver/Cleaver families only exist in Hollywood, but, of course, it’s always great to dream.

Take the Sandell family.  Adam, the father, was a pastor of the church.  Ulrika, the mother, is a criminal defense attorney, and they produced a daughter, Stella, who is sitting in jail awaiting a date for her trial so she can find out whether she’s going to be doing time, or doing time free and clear.  Trust and believe, there’s a huge difference!

How does a young teen get herself wrapped up in a brutal murder?  Hmm, well for starters, Stella had entirely too much ‘freedom’ to begin with.  I understand that parents would like their children to love them and think they are the ‘coolest parents on the planet,’ but the fact of the matter is, they need some structure and guidance, and Stella pretty much did what the hell she wanted to do.  That’s the first problem I had with this story.  However, in all fairness, this story, I believe takes place in Sweden, and perhaps they do things a little differently over there, but Stella appeared to be doing things a young lady in her twenties should be doing, instead of a teenager.  

Because of Stella’s fast nature, she found herself in adult situations, wherein she then wants to cry “I’m just a teen,” but anything else she felt like doing was fair game.  She meets Christopher in a bar.  Yep, a bar, folks, and she’s getting her drinking on with him and her bestie Almina, and they are having the time of their lives, until they weren’t.  Christopher ends up murdered in a playground while Stella has blood on her hands.  Seems pretty clear cut, right?  You couldn’t be more wrong.  As you should know, what you think is happening, isn’t always the case.  Right?

What I loved about this story is how you see each character’s perspective.  The author did an amazing job telling each character’s story in their own words which felt authentic and genuine.  They behaved the way I would imagine these characters to act.  But I felt Adam, the father, was a bit naïve when it came to how the law worked and I found that to be quite baffling considering his wife was a criminal attorney.  That’s sort of a stretch, perhaps?  I’m not an attorney but I’ve worked in law for over thirty years, and I know quite a bit about how the law works and people’s rights, however, Adam, seemed to be totally clueless and that frustrated me somewhat.  

Ulrika appeared to be so self-absorbed in her own little world that Stella and Adam got lost in the shuffle somehow. And she wondered why she and her daughter weren’t more mother and daughterly like?  As the reader continues along the path of mass destruction with the Sandell family, it will become clear just how far a person will go to protect his/her own.  This story tests and stretches the boundaries of what is a “normal” family and the dynamics that go along with that.  Overall, I felt this was a good book, but entirely too long.  It could have ended at 320 pages, instead of the over 400 mark.  And, I felt the ending let me down a little.  I had six scenarios playing in my head with how this was going to go, and I was praying the author would have taken me to one of those destinations, but ultimately, the author decided against that.  Hmm, not sure why, but I felt it would have been even more gripping had he veered down a different road.  Eh, I wasn’t the writer, so I give him credit for the amazing story he managed to put together.

Overall, the Sexy Nerd gives A Nearly Normal Family four family gatherings.  It was written expertly and with a great eye for detail told only by the crazy characters who inhabited the pages.  This book will definitely make you think on how far you would go to protect your child?  What are you willing to do?  Until your next mind blowing book, keep on reading!
Was this review helpful?
Can’t stop reading!  How far would you go to protect your family?  How well do you know your children?  How strong is your faith.?  There were a nearly normal family. Isn’t that good enough?  Until a man is murdered and the pastors daughter accused. As a parent, I can feel the anguish, the need to protect and defend, the ‘what if’?
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely loved this book!! I loved how the sections were broken up. I felt really invested in the characters and what happens to them.  This is a very well-written legal suspense novel. The characters were well developed and easy to identify with. I loved this book and recommend it to anyone who likes this type of book!
Was this review helpful?
Exceptionally chilly book about interpersonal tensions and dynamics in a family.  Love the slow build up.
Was this review helpful?
A thrilling legal tale of family drama and murder. It begs the question, "do you really know your family?"
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book that I was fortunate enough to receive as an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I will be telling everyone about it. I loved how you saw incidents from three different perspectives as each family member took their turn to tell the tale instead of going back and forth. I was dying to hear the truth and the story kept me engaged until the last sentence! I can really picture this as a major motion picture! So good!
Was this review helpful?
After hearing so much hype around this book, I had to totally check it out. Unfortunately it fell flat for me. It was a fast read with 3 alternating perspectives. Shorter chapters. The story just didnt do it for me. It bounced around alittle to much. I was really hoping to love this one but I just didnt.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book and will be definitely be looking for more from this author. I liked how the book was split into different perspectives of each of the family members. I spent the entire book wondering whether Stella had actually killed Chris Olsen or not. I love it when a book can keep me guessing. I'm also so happy that the author had added the epilogue. I felt like I still had some questions that needed to be answered at the point of the conclusion of the trial. The epilogue helped to make the story complete.
Was this review helpful?
“How far would you go to protect the ones you love?” A Nearly Normal Family is a suspenseful thriller that raises moral and ethical judgement, voice, and action. The changes in points of view provoke the reader to switch perception and opinion as the characters’ personality, character, and motive are revealed and exposed; adding a layer of intrigue and flavor. I was hooked early on and eagerly read each page, anxious to find out out who and why!
Was this review helpful?
While this book wasn't perfect for me I really enjoyed it. It had a few lulls but for the most part it kept me engaged and in suspense for the majority of the book. This is told in 3 POVs the father, the daughter, and the mother. The parent perspectives were my favorite.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley And Celadon Books for gifting me with an ARC of A Nearly Normal Family. Below is my unbiased review.

This was by far my favorite psychological thriller of 2019. From the very first page I was absolutely hooked and committed to the Sandell Family and their daughter Stella’s legal plight. Told in three parts, each from the unique viewpoint of the Sandell Family, we slowly peel away another layer of the story. It’s convoluted and twisty and totally tantalizing. Several times, I actually gasped when a new secret was revealed and while I did figure out a piece of the plot, I was never drawn out of the story. For me, this book was a nearly perfect thriller. I can’t wait to read more by this author and I’m absolutely certain EVERYONE will be talking about this book this summer!!!!! Kudos M.T. Edvardsson from making thrillers thrilling once more!!
Was this review helpful?
I want to extend thanks to NetGalley and Celadon Books for this thought-provoking ARC. Classified as a psychological thriller/legal drama it is above all an intense probe into dysfunctional family dynamics. 

 An 18-old girl, Stella, has been charged with the murder of a 32-year-old wealthy businessman, rumoured to be of disreputable reputation. Her parents consider themselves to be a normal family of upper-middle-class status and are concerned about their favoured social standing. They are shocked and in denial when their daughter is accused of murder.  

 Her father is a pastor of the Church of Sweden in the small city of Lund. On a downward spiral from the news, he goes to extremes to protect his daughter. He crosses moral and ethical boundaries, including harassment of the prosecution attorney and questioning a witness. He uses deceptive means to enter the home of the murder victim’s ex-girlfriend and finds a clue which convinces him that she is guilty of the crime. He intrudes into the home of Stella’s best friend and disrupts her life both inside and outside her home. It is his desperate belief that she knows something which would prove his daughter’s innocence. He insults police officers.  He lies to provide an alibi for Stella and commits perjury in court. 

The mother is an ambitious attorney who never bonded with her child. She is absent emotionally and travels frequently for work. She seems to prefer Stella’s friend, Amina to her own daughter.  While trying to convince us that her husband is the great love of her life, she has carried on an affair with a colleague. She crosses legal lines to protect Stella and her family’s reputation. 

 Stella has been wild and rebellious since a very young age. She has been overprotected by her parents who have ignored or made excuses for her anger and acting out behaviour.  She has been diagnosed as having poor impulse control,  being bipolar or ADHD, but her tolerant and faithful friend says that Stella is just being Stella.  

 The theme centres on how far one should go to protect one's' family, friends and reputation in the community. The story is told through three perspectives; that of Adam, the pastor and father, Ulrika, the mother and attorney, and Stella, the daughter who is accused of murder. They are all unreliable, along with friend, Amina. All are lying and have secrets. Evidence is destroyed, perjury committed, and the backgrounds and emotional states of witnesses besmirched. 

 None of the characters are likeable or trustworthy, but as they told their stories we come to understand them better, and are often shocked by their thoughts and actions. They had convinced themselves that what they were saying and doing was for the best. There were transitions from present to past which caused the narrative to seem choppy, and I thought the flashbacks could have been better organized.  I felt there were unnecessary repetitions and digressions which may have been partly due to translation. I thought the plot slow paced, but would have liked to learn more about the future outcome for the characters after the trial ended. 
3.5 stars rounded up to 4
Was this review helpful?
This is the third book that I have read from this imprint. The first was the interesting Cape May, then the phenomenal Silent Patient, and now the equally riveting A Nearly Normal Family. The novel succeeds on all levels. It is a mystery and a family drama that keeps your interest building but it’s format being told in three voices brought an intriguing question to my mind and that is one of perception. In this case the three characters see each other and their lives in remarkably different ways. It provokes a thought about how one’s perceptions might differ from those of their own family members. Great book from a Swedish author!
Was this review helpful?
What would you do to protect the ones you love? Thriller, family drama, courtroom drama, this book has it all. Stella is on trial for murder. In what is being called “the playground murder” the victim is a shady businessman 15 years older than she. How could she know him? Or have any reason to kill him? Stella comes from a good family. A pastor for a father, a lawyer for a mother. How did she end up behind bars? And what are her parents willing to risk to save her?

This one had me hooked from page one. I loved that the story was told from three perspectives but one at a time instead of interspersed. I changed my mind on what could have happened so many times. With so many thrillers coming out recently, I feel like they start to follow a pretty generic path and are getting easier to solve, that was not the case here! I can’t recommend this book enough!
Was this review helpful?
First of all, as a mother, I don't even want to think about being in that situation. It's possibly the worst nightmare.

About the book, the book is divided into 3 parts -one for each of the main characters-. The first part is the father...I was getting a little annoyed with his naivete. At this point, I'm thinking, yeah, the book is alright...3 starts at the most. Then the second part got started and the book got really good. It reminded me of how I felt about the "Gone Girl."

I ended up really enjoying this book. I have to admit that half way thru I guessed 'who did it' but I had not reasons why, simply a gut feeling. It was still very entertaining to see how it untangled. M.T. Edvardsson does a great job developing the characters. 

I would definitely recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson is a sharply written tale in the vein of a Swedish domestic noir, and I was pulled in immediately.  The crisp, concise chapters virtually propelled me through the narrative, and I was fully engrossed as the family drama unfolded.

This is the story of the Sandell family;  Adam, a pastor in the Church of Sweden, his attorney wife, Ulrika, and their troubled eighteen-year-old daughter, Stella.  A thirty-two year old businessman has been found murdered, and Stella appears to be the prime, and only, suspect.  Told from the three differing perspectives of each family member, the tale unfolds and a question emerges.  Just how far would a parent be willing to go to protect his or her only daughter?  And, of course, the more imminent question, is Stella guilty of the crime for which she has been accused?

This is a well-executed plot, and the three primary characters are thoroughly fleshed out in the course of their individual recounting of events.  I would not hesitate to read more from this author.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Celadon Books for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really eagerly awaited book for me and I was excited at the chance to read it! The story is not as fast paced as I expected, but engaging and twisty from beginning to end. I don't want to give anything away, but this is definitely a page turner!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley and Celadon Books for early access to this great book! This book is set to be published on June 25th.
Adam and Ulrika are devastated when their teenage daughter, Stella, is accused of murder. Why would she even be involved with the victim, a man nearly twice her age? The ensuing events will test everything they believe in. How far will they go to protect their daughter?
A Nearly Normal Family is a suspenseful legal thriller. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and I never wanted to put it down. The story is told in three separate parts. Adam’s (the dad) perspective, Stella’s (the daughter) perspective, and then Ulricka’s (the mom) perspective. So, it was unique in that way and I liked that format a lot. The characters were great and I just wanted everything to turn out ok for them. 
It’s a thought-provoking read that had me questioning what I would do in a similar situation. The overall theme is parent-child relationships and how far parents will go to protect their children. I highly recommend this book!
Was this review helpful?