Cover Image: A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

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Member Reviews

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book but I kept reading and it pulled me in. I loved it. It was so original  ! The plot is fast paced and you never see the end coming. I gasped aloud ! I highly recommend this well written mystery.
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M. T. Edvardsson crafts an enjoyable psychological thriller in A Nearly Normal Family. It’s told from three viewpoints. First, the father’s voice lays out both current and past events. Then, the daughter fills in some gaps, but makes it clear that she’s an unreliable narrator. Lastly, the mother gives us the answers we crave. But in all three cases, the narrator only has one limited viewpoint. So nothing is certain.

What’s certain is that the daughter, who’s just turned 18, is accused of killing a man more than a decade older than her. She has a history of reckless behavior, and lacks the typical impulse control. So, in her father’s telling it seems quite possible she’s actually committed the crime. As she takes over the narrative, the situation gets muddier rather than clearer. Even when you think you’ve guessed the solution to the crime, everything you know depends on three narrators with their own agendas.

Set in Lund, Sweden, the book will make you want to travel there and ride bicycles through the streets like its characters.

I’ll add a trigger warning here for rape. There are some detailed descriptions and discussions of rape. They may be difficult for some people to read.

My conclusions
Stella, the daughter, isn’t an easy kid or teenager. All three narrators make that clear. And this made me glad that our kids were teenagers in a generally easier time. But Stella is a product of the people who raised her. Adam, her father, was a doting dad but also very involved in his career as a pastor. Being a pastor’s kid is never easy. Ulrika, the mother, never intended to have kids so young. Instead, she focused on her law career and let Adam manage quite a lot of the parenting tasks.

Edvardsson shines a bright light on all of their various relationships. Each parent has a different parenting style. And as Stella becomes a teenager, they have trouble shifting gears to her new needs and demands.

But still, each characterization leaves some dark shadowy spots in the narrative. They all have secrets from each other. And the shifting time frames during each narrator’s part only serve to make things less straightforward.

As an only child, I’m sensitive to the portrayal of only children in books and movies. Stella is an only child for the new generation. Her story is a huge contrast to recent books like Where the Crawdads Sing. She’s rebellious and manipulative from an early age, but Edvardsson also shows the difficulties she has fitting in at school. Adam and Ulrika struggle to understand her behavior, yet they’d do anything to protect her and offer her advantages.

I liked the characters outside the main trio as well. Edvardsson develops the victim, Stella’s lawyer, and her lifelong best friend through the lens of the main characters’ eyes. They add substantial energy and complexity to the narrative.

I recommend this for readers who enjoy psychological thrillers with a European setting. I’d read more from this author.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Celadon Books, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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How far would you go to protect your family, even it meant lying to everyone around you and possibly covering up a heinous crime? 
This read like a Scandinavian version of Miracle Creek, and having read it close before starting this one, it was impossible for me to not draw many parallels between the two stories. Both center around alternating view points and a  family of three: mother, father, and teen daughter. In this one, Stella, a typical teen who is not nearly as responsible as her parents believe, inadvertently ends up entangled in a situation that they cannot cleanly escape from. Stella often comes across as lacking impulse control and living life for the moment. These same characteristics alternately cause her to become involved with an older man and be the subject of choice during the later murder investigation. 
Like many thrillers, there is a bit of the unreliable narrator going on. Obviously, none of the characters we hear from are completely aware of the other's actions or innermost thoughts. These are gradually revealed as the story chugs along, with each different POV offering conflicting evidence and memories to the timeline of events. Unlike Miracle Creek, I felt pretty certain, even with the red herrings thrown in, that I knew who the real killer was, and my guess was proven correct at the end. However, despite that, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story and its intense journey to the end. A solid four stars. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy. This did not influence my review.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to preview a Nearly Normal Family by MT Edvardsson.
A young girl, Sarah has been charged with killing an older man.  No one knows why especially her family.  They find it hard to believe their beloved child would do somthing like this, but Sarah is charged and there is alot of evidence that points in her direction.
This novel is written in three voices - mother, father and child.  It is a legal thriller, and it is written well.  
3 stars - it is good, but some of it was predicable and not everything made sense to me.  Could be cultural as it is Swedish in origin.
If you enjoy legal "who done its" you will like this book.
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A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson is a legal thriller with a difference. It involves a Swedish family: the father who is a pastor, the mother who is a criminal defense attorney and an eighteen-year-old daughter, Stella. Life as they know it suddenly becomes a nightmare when Stella is arrested and jailed for allegedly committing a horrific crime. The author divides the novel into three parts as each family member describes the events leading up to the arrest, giving the reader three points-of-view to help solve the mystery. I recommend A Nearly Normal Family to readers who enjoy legal mysteries unlike the usual. Thank you to Celadon Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I received an Advanced Reviewer Copy of A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson  from the publisher Celadon Books through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What It’s About: Stella, an 18 year old girl, is accused of murdering an older man. It seems mysterious and circumstantial at best. Her parents, a preacher and a defense attorney fight to protect their family. This book covers the investigation, the period leading up to investigation, and the trial. 

What I Loved: This book is so unique in how its set up and I wish more books were written like this, the book is told from three perspectives: the dad, daughter, and mom. Each portion of the book tells about a certain aspect of the crime: the investigation, the background, and the trial. This book has a bit of everything and reminds me of Miracle Creek. This story was set up in such a way that the story telling really moved it forward and I loved it. 

What I didn’t like so much: Sometimes the characters were really frustrating and you wanted to stop them/save them. The book also should come with a TRIGGER WARNING about sexual assault. This book has a lot of sexual assault references (it's not super graphic but its very clear and brought up several times). 

Who Should Read It: People who loved Miracle Creek. People looking for noir tied with trial drama. People looking for a unique thriller. People who like complex stories. 

General Summary: A thriller that mixes noir with courtroom drama.
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Five out of five stars for A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson!

This title was a great read - if the book looks good to you from the description, go for it!!! I was guessing until the very last page!

Many thanks to the publisher and netgalley, who provided this free ebook in exchange for my honest review.
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Tedious. Long winded. Didn't like one single character either. I guess this one jsut wasn't for me despite being a lover of this type of novel
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{ @celadonbooks #partner }
I had no idea what to expect when I read A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY by M.T. Edvardsson but I absolutely loved it. It’s not a thriller but more of an intense family drama involving a horrific crime.
In Sweden, we are introduced to a well-respected pastor, Adam Sandell, his defense attorney wife, Ulrika, and their eighteen-year-old daughter, Stella. Before Stella heads to Asia on a planned trip, she is arrested for the brutal stabbing of Christopher Olsen. On the night of murder, her father finds suspicious stains all over her shirt and even though he is a man of faith, he will do anything to protect his daughter.
The story is told from three perspectives: Adam, Ulrika, and Stella. This is a great character study of a complex family dynamic. From the outside, the Sandells seem perfect, but when the murder trial gets underway there is a lot to discover. Each character offers a unique recollection of the events and I love the mystery surrounding Stella’s guilt or innocence. The format of the book is original: rather than alternating chapters, it’s divided up by character. It’s equal parts suspense, Nordic noir, and domestic drama. It’s a spectacular look into the Sandell family and their story gripped me from beginning to end.
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The definition of dysfunction would be the Sandell family. Mother is an attorney, father is a pastor and daughter Stella is a very mixed up teenager.

When Stella a teenager, is arrested for the murder of a successful older businessman, her parents Ulrika and Adam are shocked and wondering how well do they know their daughter. Adam’s life is based on honesty, kindness and being a moral compass for his congregation. His daughter’s arrest puts all of his values to the test. Ulrika has put the law and her career before everything even her family.  That decision is coming back to haunt her. The Sandells are having a difficult time holding onto their beliefs and ethics in light of their daughter’s arrest.  The novel centers around how much they are willing to risk for their family.

A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY by Scandinavian author M.T. Edvardsson was a wonderful read.  Intense and intriguing.  If you enjoy a legal thriller do not hesitate to read this book.
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Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of A Nearly Normal Family.  I enjoyed this novel about a court case set in Sweden. It followed the trial of Stella, who was accused of murder.  The novel is told in 3 voices, Stella, and her mother, and her father.  It examines Stella's explosive behavior and her tight and enduring friendship with her friend, Amina.  It also examines what lengths you would go to in order to protect the ones you love. 
The story is tense, and you are constantly wondering what will happen next.  It is a surprise to hear what people will do, whether or not they will compromise their moral standards, and what they will do to discover or conceal the truth. I thought the book was interesting, and was intrigued by the difference between the US and Swedish courts.

#ANearlyNormalFamily #MTEdvardsson #NetGalley
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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.
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Enjoyed this one a lot. Good book, well paced and well structured. Interesting insights in to people!
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4.5 stars!  

Kept me highly intrigued and guessing from start to finish!

Eighteen-year-old Stella’s father is a pastor.  Her mother is a criminal defence attorney.  They paint the portrait of the “picture-perfect family” until the day Stella is arrested for murder. How could she be connected to an older mans brutal death? Stella’s parents are devastated as she is held in prison awaiting her trial.  They do whatever they can to support their daughter.

This novel is told through three interesting perspectives: Stella, her father and her mother.   With each perspective change, I felt a deeper connection to the story.   The narrative pace and flow kept me curious and edgy, my mind continually whirled with possibilities of how it would all come together.  

This book came with a lot of hype and it definitely lived up to it for me.  There were several times I thought I had it all figured out, but I was wrong every single time which kept the thrill strong.  

This was a Traveling Friends read with a fantastic discussion!  To see our reviews, please visit our blog at:

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC to read and review!
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Stella is an  eighteen-year-old daughter of a pastor and a lawyer who is being accused of murdering her older boyfriend. This story is told from the POV’s of both the parents and Stella where they discover how far one would go  to protect their family

A Near Normal Family is slow building psychological thriller filled with courtroom drama. A little slow and repetitive at times the end was suspenseful enough to redeem it for me. Overall 3 ½  stars 

I would like to thank Celadon Books  & NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and fair review.

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A Nearly Normal Family was our July pick for The Traveling Friends Goodreads Reading Group. This one started off seeming like a normal legal thriller here and even though it wasn’t the gripping read I was expecting here there wasn’t anything normal about this legal thriller, domestic/family drama, whodunit and courtroom drama all in one. 

Give me a story with a family in crisis and I am all over it. The story did start off a bit slow for me until about 65% in and then things picked up and I was on the edge of my seat turning those pages as fast as I could. I loved the theme here with what seems like a normal family find themselves questioning everything about each other after a crisis leads them protecting the ones they love. 

I enjoyed the structure here to the story that is told in three parts with the POV of the father, Adam, the daughter Stella who is accused of murder and the mother Ulrika. I liked how we saw something different with each of their perspective that added some complexity to the story.

M.T. Edvardsson explores just how far this family will go to save the ones they love and gives it a twist that left this reader very happy with the way this one wrapped up. It left me thinking about so many thought-provoking questions and wanting to discuss it with my friends.
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What would you do for your child? 
Would you lie for her?
Would you go against your principles to save her? 

This is the conundrum, Stella's parents will find themselves in M.T. Edvardsson's debut novel.

Stella Sandell is not your typical teenager. Her mother is a criminal defense lawyer and her father is a well-known pastor. Stella has had problems since she was a child. She had problems with impulse control, explosive anger disorder, ADD, and she has dwelled for a little bit with drugs and alcohol. 

In Stella's mind, her father, Adam is too overprotective. When she was little she adored him but as the years passed, she started becoming annoyed by him. She plans to take a trip to Asia to be free of his constant presence. On the contrary, her mother, Ulrika was a workaholic and Stella felt she was never there for her growing up. For Stella, the only constant in her life has been Amina Besic, her best friend since they were in kindergarten. These girls are loyal to each other and they have each other's backs. Stella and Amina decided early on not to let any man come between their friendship. They have no idea that on this, their friendship will be tested.

While on a night out, Amina and Stella meet an older man, Chris Olsen. In the beginning, it seems that Chris is interested in Amina but as the night progresses and a taxi cab ride later, Stella and Chris are in route to becoming a couple. What develops should be a romance, instead just a few weeks later, Chris is found murdered and Stella is the prime suspect.

I enjoyed this Swedish novel. It's narrated in three parts. The first part by Adam, the second part by Stella and the third part by Ulrika. 

I got to be honest here, I didn't like Stella one bit while Adam was narrating his part and even at the beginning of Stella's POV. Yet, by the time I finished hers and began Ulrica's, I had completely changed my mind. 

The ending was just like I imagined it: Very satisfactory. I'm not sure what it says about me.

“I was full of conflicting emotions. As a lawyer, I was guilty of the most horrific violation of the law one could imagine. As a mother, my choice was the only correct one. I still had no idea what had happened on Friday night, but I knew with certainty that it was my duty to protect my daughter”

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Celedon Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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How far would you go if your seventeen-year-old daughter was accused of murder? Told in three parts. The mother being a criminal defense attorney and the father is a pastor. This packs a punch at the end. I was glued to it. There is so much in this story. This a great book club read. The topics for discussion are endless. A fabulous summer crime thriller.
I was given a copy by the publisher for my honest review.
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This story has it all! Suspense, twists and turns, and characters that are well written and who make you emotionally involved in the story. I will be looking for more books from this author.
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A slow burn that’s hot… 4.5, rounded up

I usually don’t like slow burns, but this crime drama had a fire that warmed me right up. Did the nearly normal daughter commit this heinous crime? Did the nearly normal parents act normally?

Here is what the husband said about their lives:

“On Monday nights, my wife went to yoga and on Thursdays I played tennis. We had a mortgage, which we dutifully made payments on; we sorted our trash and used our blinkers and kept to the speed limit and always returned library books on time.”

Even though they sound sort of anal (or goody-two-shoes?), with the speed limit and library-book-returns business, they really are normal as all get out. Until their daughter is accused of murder! We get the dad’s story, then the daughter’s, then the mom’s. The different perspectives on the same situation kept adding more depth to the characters and more excitement to the plot. It’s all told in first person, which I like because it makes the characters seem so real, like they’re personally letting me in on their secrets.

I wasn’t wowed by the first section, which was the dad’s. He was a sympathetic character, and I felt his pain (which is the most important thing, actually). But he was a little too predictable and a tad boring. His conflicts and his behavior were just, well, nearly normal—even the thing he did that was supposed to be a big deal (I’m being vague on purpose here).  He seemed sort of whiny, and he repeated stuff. He reminded me of the dad in a book I loved called Defending Jacob—maybe a little too much, in that I’d heard it all before. One thing that did work was this: he made me so so curious to find out what his daughter was like. Was she nearly normal? Or was she a psychopath? What were her secrets? I mean, all teenagers keep secrets, but were hers especially bad, or even evil?

I was so jazzed when he shut up, because next I got to hear directly from his daughter, who was in jail. (Cool transition by the author.) Let’s hear what she has to say! What was she really like? Was she capable of killing someone? I got busy comparing what she said to what her dad had reported about her, trying to figure out whether his worries were justified, trying to size her up. It was hard not to get attached to her, even though I didn’t know if she was guilty or whether she was someone I should be attached to. I loved this section completely. I liked how she didn’t tell the whole story—I had to wait until the end to find out what really happened. And it was a clever surprise!

The mom’s story took up the last section of the book, and that’s where we got riveting courtroom scenes. I’m not always crazy about courtroom dramas, but here the scenes were perfection. Good lawyers, good questions, good answers, and no confusion (no new players whom I had to get to know at the last minute). I was pretty much on the edge of my seat by this time. I liked the mom’s story. She was angsty, but it didn’t get old. Hearing from her was a treat after hearing about her second-hand from her husband and daughter. She was much more complex than I had thought.

This is a crime drama with depth and soul. The characters are all introspective and don’t cut themselves any slack. I love it when characters think so much about what they’re doing and how it affects everyone else; it elevates the mystery, makes it ten times better than a flat whodunit. The author did a great job showing us the complex family dynamics—the dysfunction and the love, the secrets and lies, the doubts. It perfectly captures the pain and guilt of being a parent, and drills home how you just don’t ever know what your teenagers are doing. They do have a secret life—you just have to hope it’s not an evil or dangerous one.

Editor twitches: Once, info was presented twice, several pages apart. Editor, editor, where are you? And there was an incident at jail that was just dropped. I desperately wanted to hear what happened afterward.
The author is Swedish; I thought the translation was good. It was fun to see how the justice system works in Sweden. It wasn’t totally different from what we have in the U.S., but different enough to make me stop and ponder. Need to check out whether this author has other books that have been translated.

Final verdict: A really good read. A fantastic character study and a cool and satisfying courtroom scene. Great for people who want a meaty whodunit or who want a good family drama. Funny, this is the second literary crime drama I’ve read this year—Miracle Creek is the other. Both had teenage girls in the mix and both had courtrooms. I loved both books, but right this second I think I liked A Nearly Normal Family a little bit better. It’s close, though. Read both, is what I say; neither will disappoint.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
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