Cover Image: A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A Nearly Normal Family is truly a satisfying thriller with a unique twist I didn’t see coming. The Sandells seem like a perfectly normal family. But are they? 

An insteresting read being told from 3 POVs, the father (a pastor), the mother (a lawyer) and the teen daughter ( a murder suspect). It’s nice to see the dynamics of this family unfold. And you begin to wonder, who is truly telling the truth. 

I highly recommend this one. A definite must read. It will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. Truly captivating story.  Can’t wait to see what’s to come next from this incredible storyteller. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon books for an advance copy for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley, M.T. Edvardsson and Celadon Books for this ARC. 

I really enjoyed this book. A well paced legal thriller told in three different points of view (pastor Dad, teenage daughter and lawyer Mom). I figured out the ending about halfway through the book, but that didn't take away from the rest of the story. I would be interested in reading more by this amazing Swedish author.
Was this review helpful?
Nice, fast-paced mystery read. The buildup was interesting but I found the ending a little disappointing. Solid but nothing really surprising here.
Was this review helpful?
Love, love! If someone were to stack a huge pile of books beside me and tell me the author was M.T. Edvardsson or the writing style was similar, I would devour every one of them one right after the other. I loved the way the story grabbed my interest from the very beginning but equally loved how the depth (or not) of each character was revealed little by little as the story unfolded. The complexity of the main character was refreshing...being misunderstood and misunderstanding at the same time.  Oh and the mother...the knowing but not knowing how she mattered or didn't matter throughout the story was wonderful. I remember being 85% in and still fully engaged wondering what would happen. This book was good up until the very last word. Thank you...just thank you.
Was this review helpful?
The book is the story of a murder trial involving a young 18 year old girl.  The author uses the technique of three narratives in telling his story.  There is the girl's father who is a Pastor and a man dedicated to the truth, her mother who is a criminal defense lawyer and of course Stella Sandell the lady on trial.  The technique employed quite successfully by Mr Edvardsson is to utilize three separate sections of the novel, each dedicated to the thoughts and actions of the three people involved. Each part supplies the reader with different facts making up the plot and certainly causes many changes of opinion as the novel progresses.
     Stella is a girl that certainly has her own mind and is more than a little rebellious.  She is a student reaching the end of high school with the one ambition of taking a trip of several months to Asia.  Important to her, and to the story is her best friend who has been with her almost all of her short life. Amina, her friend is the exact opposite of her immersed in studies with the intention of becoming a doctor.
     Both Stella and Amina  have drifted into a relationship with a man 15 years older than they are.  Each tries to keep her role with him apart and attempting to keep the other thinking that they are not involved with him.  It is this man that is killed and circumstances put the blame on Stella.  She is arrested and brought to trial.
     The strength of the story is the steady building up of suspense and the maintaining of the flow keeping the reader glued to the novel.  While it was written in Swedish and takes place in a small city in Sweden, the translation is an excellent one allowing the nuances of the English I read it in to be quite clear.  A definite five star novel and one showcasing the work of an author at the top of his game.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book "A Nearly Normal Family" from NetGalley and all opinions expressed are my own. I liked this book and it had me guessing until the end. What really happened that night? You will have to read till the end to find out.
Was this review helpful?
3-3.5 STARS

I can see why this slow burning legal thriller is garnering loads of hype; it's the perfect example of a steady building of suspense that explodes into a tantalizing climax that, for my part anyway, I didn't quite see coming. Based on this alone, I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to readers searching for a substantial thriller full of meaty characterization and deep introspection into family dynamics and secrets. My issues mainly stemmed from the fact that the translation here seems to be a bit choppy and unlike some of the smoother books I've read in the past, which is clearly personal preference, but may be helpful to the picky readers like me who may be a bit more difficult to please. Overall, a wonderful and somewhat unique addition to the scandi noir genre, and an author I'm looking forward to seeing more from in the future.
Was this review helpful?
If you love mysteries and trying to figure out who did it and where the plot is headed, you have to read this book! The suspense builds chapter after chapter and just when you think you know what is going on, your realize that you don’t. The author manages to pull a switch up multiple times and it kept me hooked. Impossible to put down until you finish it!  M. T. Edvardsson has written a fabulous story and I cannot wait to read something else by this author. 
The story profiles a couple who struggles with a teenage daughter, Stella,  who is attempting to spread her wings and become an adult. The story also follows the friendship of Stella and her friend, Amina who have been friends since preschool.  One night, Stella comes home very late and hides a bloody blouse in the laundry room. The police arrest Stella the next day. The focus of the book  then shifts to the trial of Stella.
Was this review helpful?
This book just didn’t work-out for me the way I‘d hoped. 
I read some fantastic reviews and was anxious to dig into this one, but for some reason it just never “clicked “with me. 

Stella is seventeen and enjoying as much time as possible with her best friend Amina. Their carefree days are growing short as they both begin the journey into adulthood. Stella is off to Asia for her trip of a lifetime, while Amina plans to start medical school. 
Everything goes sideways when Stella sneaks back into her parent’s home late one night, her clothing covered in blood. 

How far would you go to protect the ones you love? Your children? Your spouse? Your own reputation?

Told from multiple POV I found this book to be repetitive, to the point I felt I was reading the exact same paragraph word for word, over and over. 
This book is translated to English and perhaps as they say, something got "lost in translation”.

As the story-line plays out there is definitely a build-up in tension as truths are weighed against lies. And thankfully, I did have my wow moment at the end! 
I may be in the minority here. There are some fantastic reviews, so I hope it works out better for you!

A buddy read with Susanne!

Thank you to NetGalley, Celadon Books and M.T. Edvardsson for an ARC to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 Stars* (rounded down)

When you live with Dysfunction, you become Dysfunction.  Just ask the Sandells.  They have it down pat.  

When Stella a teenager, is arrested for the murder of a successful businessman, parents Ulrika and Adam are beside themselves.  Adam is a Pastor whose whole life has been based on honesty.  His daughter’s arrest shakes his belief system to the core.  Ulrika is an Attorney.  The law is everything to her and success has always come before all else, even her family.   

As far as the Sandells are concerned, ethics and morals go out the window when freedom is on the line.  

What price would you pay to hold your family together?  

Stella is just “Stella” or so her best friend Amina describes her.   Sounds intriguing, right?

For me, “A Nearly Normal Family” was a highly intriguing read, which fell just a tiny bit short of all of the hype.  The believability police were on high alert throughout which had my eyes rolling quite a bit.  Furthermore, I found the writing to be a bit choppy in the way the story was told.  That said, I absolutely loved the ending and loved the characters of Stella and Amina!  I wish Amina had been more heavily featured as I think she kinda sorta stole the whole show.  Though I didn’t love every aspect of this novel, I enjoyed the storyline and look forward to seeing what Celadon Books comes out with next!  

This was another fabulous buddy read with Kaceey! 

Thank you to Celadon Books, NetGalley and M.T. Evardsson for the complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.  

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 4.30.19.
Will be published on Amazon on 6.25.19.
Excerpt to be published on Instagram.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and Celedon books for an advance read of this title in exchange for my honest review.  This was an interesting mystery, told from the perspective of all three family members, when the daughter is arrested for the murder of an older man.  I really liked this book.  There were some areas that I felt didn't quite meld together, this might have been cultural, as it is set in Sweden.  It kept me reading, and the end surprised me.  I ended up liking characters I hadn't in the beginning and couldn't stand some I thought I'd like.
Was this review helpful?
I liked this unique take on a legal thriller as it's told by three different perspectives. This adds to the tension of trying to figure out who did it The one thing I struggled with was I believe this was translated from Swedish and not sure if that made a difference, but some parts the writing seemed
Was this review helpful?
On occasion a book will take you by surprise, as this one has for me.  Set in Sweden and well written, A Nearly Normal Family  tells the same story through the eyes of a father, daughter and mother.  With enjoyable suspense and a great ending that stays true to the story, this book is highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this novel, which is part family drama, part crime mystery. 

The book opens from the first-person perspective of the father, who is a pastor. His eighteen-year-old daughter is being accused of murdering a man fifteen years her senior. Stella has always been Daddy’s little girl, even if she has been difficult these last few years. 

The second part of the novel is told from the POV of Stella, who is waiting for trial in prison. She’d always thought Swedish prisons were basically like hotels, but now she knows the cruelty of guards and of being all alone twenty-four hours a day, her thoughts constantly reeling. She misses her long-time best friend, Amina, and of course her parents. 

The last part is told from the POV of Mom, a criminal defense attorney. All along, we knew that Dad and Stella weren’t telling the cops (or the readers) the whole story. Now during the trial, the details of how the wealthy Christopher Olsen met his gruesome end are finally revealed. 

I did think this could have been shorter. There were twists and turns, and it is nice to have fully developed characters to flesh out the story, but the tension would have been increased if the prose had been tightened. Still, it’s worth the read.

Thanks so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book, which RELEASES JULY 25, 2019.

For more reviews, please visit
Was this review helpful?
My first journey into the Scandi-Noir genre, I flew through this book. 

This is the story of a young girl, Stella, who is accused of murdering a man 15 years older than her. The story is told in 3 sections, from the point of view of her father, from her, and from her mother. With each POV, more details come out, until the final, explosive end. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon Books for the ARC copy of this book!
Was this review helpful?
“It’s such a strange job I have, where life and death shake hands in the foyer.” What a poetic yet prophetic statement by the father of this family, whose daughter has been charged with murder.
I enjoy reading the eloquent writing style of the author, M.T. Edvardsson. It flows and meanders as it weaves a net I’m getting caught in. So many questions I have, so many insinuations, I must continue reading. First and foremost, does this pastor place his hand on the Bible and lie in court? What a tangled web we weave when protecting those we love.
Adam and Ulrika have done a good job raising their teenage daughter, Stella. Imagine their shock when Stella is arrested and accused of murder, then denied bail or visitation. Time drags by slowly, especially for Adam, who takes it upon himself to solve the crime since the police obviously have made up their mind that they’ve got the guilty party in jail and aren’t doing their job.
Told from three very different angles, this novel drives home the problem with perspective and intent. What looks one way to an onlooker may very well be a devastatingly different situation. But to what degree does this apply when their daughter does look guilty at first glance?
This is an eloquent tale of a quiet and boring family suddenly thrust into a situation that won’t end well for anyone. The people, their feelings, and their pain will stay with you.
(I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks so much to Celadon Books and NetGalley for making it available.)
Was this review helpful?

"What is a lie? Just as there are different sorts of truths, there must be different sorts of lies. White lies, for example - I've never shied away from those. Better a kind lie than a hurtful truth, I've always thought.

        But of course, this was different."

This is a complex multi-layered domestic drama that kept me chewing my cuticles until the very end. 

Every character in this book is lying.

A pastor and father
A mother and lawyer
Their teen daughter and murder suspect
And a best friend

Each lying to law enforcement, lying to each other and to themselves in an effort to protect someone they love, to preserve a family portrait that had begun to crack well before the current dilemma and to ultimately protect themselves.

This story is rife with ethical quandaries that gave me pause on more than one occasion to consider what I might do if presented with the same circumstances. 

To loosely quote Shakespeare...

        "I would tell lies like truth."

I'd love to find out what happened when all of the lies were finally exposed. There is a whole other story within this book and I could totally get into a sequel.
No lie. 

4.5 Stars rounded up ⭐

Thank you to Celedon for sending me a copy of this book and for the digital ARC as well. All opinions are my own. I swear. 

Was this review helpful?
The storyline of this book was great although it felt slow at times. I also enjoyed the three separate segments told from different points of view. However, I only gave it three stars because the characters were awful. I did not like any of them because they were all too whiny and self-absorbed.
Was this review helpful?
Stella and Anima have been best friends since they started school. They're getting ready to graduate. Anima will head off to medical school and Stella wants to go to Asia and tour. Both girls come from your typical ordinary family. 
Both of the girl's father's coach their handball team. Stella's mom is a lawyer, her dad is a pastor.
The families have fun together. 
Everything is.....ordinary. Until it isn't. A murder has been committed. Stella is in jail awaiting trial. Anima is definitely hiding something. Someone committed this murder. Evidence indicates it was Stella. Only Anima can tell the jury what needs to be said. 
Riveting! Definitely keeps you guessing till the very end. Excellent!
Was this review helpful?
Oh, how I love books with a moral dilemma and unreliable narrators! This novel has it all! It's a brilliant courtroom drama with family issues, a murder, a stalker, psychiatrists, rebellious teens, and above all obsessive love. It begs the question, "What would you do for your child in the worst of circumstances?" Eighteen-year-old Stella's parents are a pastor and a lawyer, so when she finds herself arrested on suspicion of murder, she is fairly confident that things will turn in her favor, as Sweden's laws rely heavily on evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt. But things are never as they seem! If you've ever raised a teenager (heck, if you've ever BEEN a teenager) this story will appeal to you as there are both wise and unwise decisions made by almost every character. But you may want to put everything else aside as it's incredibly hard to put this book down. Even the last sentence gave me goosebumps! This is a thriller not to be missed!
Was this review helpful?