Cover Image: A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

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Member Reviews

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 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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This book was written in several sections. I liked that just when it seemed like that character was reaching a tipping point of sharing big details, it switched characters. The author did a great job of providing big and small details, all the while leaving you with more questions each time. This book held my interest and made me want to know more. At points in this book I was frustrated with each of the characters, but each was critical to the book. This book really gave me pictures in my head of the scene and what may have happened. This book is suspenseful and a psychological thriller.
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How far would you go to protect your child?  18 year old Stella is arrested for the murder of a 30-something man she has been involved with.  Her father searches for answers, she struggles with her incarceration waiting for trial revealing so many struggles she's endured during her short life and her mother tries to protect her daughter and her family.  An excellent read until the final moment.
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Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to preview this ARC of A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson.

Stella, the daughter of a pastor father and lawyer mother, has just been arrested for the murder of a man 15 years her senior.  Desperate to free her daughter and clear her name, her parents will stop at nothing, even if their actions are legally shady.  

Told in the voices of Stella, her mom, dad, and best friend, we find out what really happened to the slain young man, and whether or not justice was served.

This was very readable, exciting, and well paced.  I liked the nuances and the characters.  The ending could have been a bit stronger, but that doesn't take away from the journey.
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I enjoyed this smartly written novel.  Told from multiple points of view, the mystery at the center was highly engrossing as well as the courtroom drama. Would recommend this book to my customers who read Grisham.
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‘A Nearly Normal Family’ is about the ideal family who everyone thinks is perfect. But when the daughter is accused of murder, everything breaks down.

I love multiple POV books with the same circumstances being narrated by different people, and this book should have been perfect for me. Plus I generally like thrillers which keep me guessing. This book was at least successful on one count. I had not seen the exact end coming - and that was a huge plus. The multiple POVs was what let me down in this one. The POV of the father just seemed to drag on and added very little to the narrative - I understand that it was being built up - but it was a little difficult to keep reading. The mother’s POV seemed really dry and robotic. Stella’s POV was the strong one in this scenario. I understand that the book was translated, so maybe some of the initial charm was lost? 

The bond between the parents and the children, also the friendship showcased was really well done. The struggles and the love and the lengths we go to for our family were accurately descriptive. The end was perfectly built up and one of those ‘unguessable’ endings.

It’s a fast paced thriller and I can definitely see why people liked it. It just wasn’t for me.
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I love when an ending can surprise me. When you're a thriller fan, sometimes they all sort of blend together or follow a formula with similar results. I loved the three part point of view writing style and was eager to learn more! 

Thank you to NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is a quick read that carries the reader on a journey to find out who killed a man.  The story is told in three parts, from three different perspectives, and I was completely drawn in and compelled to finish to find out what really happened.  Just when I thought I knew what the truth was, that knowledge was challenged and more information came to light that made me wonder again.  The primary themes for me that stood out were about what would you be willing to do for a loved one?  for a child?  for a friend?  and what is a life worth? a good person's life?  a bad person's life?   This is a well-written and well-translated book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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I included A Nearly Normal Family in a roundup of thrillers in the Toronto Star. It appeared on July 6, online a few days before (link below)

A Nearly Normal Family, M.T. Edvardsson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

A Nearly Normal Family, like The Chain (above), addresses how far parents will go, morally and legally, to protect their children. When rebellious 18-year-old Stella is accused of stabbing to death a 32-year-old man outside his apartment, Adam, her pastor father, and Ulrika, her lawyer mother, find themselves breaking the rules they live by — providing a false alibi, destroying evidence and more — to save their daughter. First Adam, then Stella, and finally Ulrika, offer narratives about what happened and their assigned roles within this “nearly normal” Swedish family..
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I'm between a 3 and a 4 on this one. I enjoyed the build up and the back forth, and I even had a few times where I thought it was going one way, but went another. Days later and I'm still not sure if I liked it or not! I knew the book was going to end the way it did before I even got to the last page, but I really did enjoy getting there anyway. The perspective of the daughter was the most intriguing, especially with the build up to the pretty shocking ending.
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