Cover Image: A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Stella seems to have an ordinary life for a seventeen-year-old girl. She works at H&M, is bored with school, believes her parents are ruining her life, dreams of a trip to Asia, and is fiercely loyal to her best friend Amina. Her father is a pastor and her mother is a defense attorney, and both are well respected in the community, which makes Stella’s somewhat unconventional behavior a bit concerning. One night Stella and Amina go clubbing, and meet an older man named Chris. Though Amina is fascinated with Chris, it’s Stella who begins a romantic relationship with him. Stella considers this a summer fling, while Chris quickly becomes obsessed with Stella, wanting to control her every move. As Stella tries to break away from Chris, things spiral out of control, leaving Stella standing trial for his murder.

Told from three perspectives, this book begs the question of how far you would go to protect your child from harm. Stella’s parents are upstanding citizens, well-known and well-liked, and yet, they are caught up in a murder trial, sitting helplessly by, hoping for an acquittal but fearing the worst. This is a compelling read with many interesting twists throughout.
Was this review helpful?
How far would you go to protect the ones you love? 

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 is a pastor and mom is an attorney.  While their relationship wasn't the best, Stella is still their daughter and they both find ways to protect her.  The story goes back and forth between the mom and dad and Amina, Stella's best friend.  I truly could not figure out if Stella was guilty or not.  The author saves this information for the very last pages.  As you sit through the court case you find yourself doubting several parts of what was said and trying to put the puzzle together.  But I honestly can say I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for that verdict.

It's a suspenseful legal thriller that will keep you turning the pages.  Thank you #NetGalley for the chance to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
A Nearly Normal family is about a Swedish family: the father is a pastor, the mother is a defense attorney and their only child, an 18 year old daughter, stands accused of murdering a local businessman.  The first 30% of the book is told from the father's perspective, the second 30% from the daughter's perspective and the last 30% is told from the mother's perspective.  Each family member gives you different perspective on their family life and what lead up to the situation they are currently in.  I thought it was extremely well done and without giving anything away, I thought it was very powerful.
Was this review helpful?
Pros: Short chapters, relatively fast paced, even though pretty long. Mostly held my attention but didn't grip me. 
Cons: Extremely predictable. I could have guessed the ending from the beginning. Some of the “back stories” didn't really seem to have anything to do with the current story. The dad is apparently just an idiot. Not terrible but was expecting Much better.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book for honest feedback from Netgalley as well as Celadon Books. I am obsessed. I loved the fact it was split between the father, daughter, then mother. I loved seeing the same scenes from the different perspectives. I could not put this book down. My idea of what occurred changed with every chapter. It was difficult to tell who was telling the truth, or even telling all of the story. I was pleased with the ending and felt it wasn't obvious from the beginning like most mystery books that are coming out these days. I'm excited to see other translated books from this author now.
Was this review helpful?
There was a lot of hype around this book and it fell a little flat for me in terms of my reading preferences. I am grateful for the ARC for an honest review of A Nearly Normal Family. The book was told from a multiple point of view that I found to be repetitive. I was really hoping to love this one but I didn't.
Was this review helpful?
Written in my favorite style of alternating narration, A Nearly Normal Family is a book bound for the big screen. How far would you go to protect your family? When their daughter is charged with murder, Adam and Ulrika are left (much like us readers) flashing back to the days before the crime and trying to solve the mysterious pieces of a local murder. Did their daughter do it? If she did, do you lie to protect your own child? It's a gripping story of morality and ethics applied to a small family facing the unimaginable.
Was this review helpful?
This book does not end with its last page... this story stays with you. It goes on under your eyelids even when you put it down. Excellently created characters and the entire psychological layer of the family and human nature. I highly recommend it!
Was this review helpful?
One word to describe this novel: fascinating. I'm a big true crime nerd so I was immediately interested to read a story from the perspective of the accused. It's natural for crime stories to follow the victim or their family so the idea of seeing it from the side of the accused's family was something new. And it didn't disappoint! The reader encounters the same narrative from three viewpoints: the father (a well-respect pastor), the mother (an ambitious lawyer), and their rebellious teenager daughter. 

The story builds in such an interesting way from these three perspectives as each one gets us closer to the infamous, long-sought truth of what actually happened that life changing night. Each character is incredibly human, flawed and full of mistakes, but that really resonates with a story that asks the question of how well do you know the people around you and how far would you go to protect them. This story builds slower than the typical blockbuster thriller but I think that really suited the thought-provoking tone and narrative of it. There's a lot of layers to the story so I think the pacing was perfect for that. 

But, it still was so hard to put down! As you get closer to the honesty of each character, their thought patterns are intoxicating and the reader feels compelled to find out how the character took that specific mental leap to end them up where they are in the present day. And the ending! I really thought the ending was perfectly suited for not just the narrative but how the story was told throughout. Shadows obscure but if the reader is honest with themselves, the true murderer can't be denied. Most times I hate obscure endings but this one was just too perfect for such a novel. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be recommending it to fellow thriller fans. 

Note: I received a free Kindle edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher Celadon Books, and the author M.T. Edvardsson for the opportunity to do so.
Was this review helpful?
I read this one in less than 24 hours. Such a great courtroom drama plus a backstory told from three perspectives. Loved loved loved.
Was this review helpful?
I love Nordic Noir and this book did not disappoint me. The viewpoints told from the Father, Mother and Daughter’s perspective of this legal drama added incredible depth to the story.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you so much for this ARC!

I am a huge Scandinavian thriller fan so getting this book was so exciting. Fabulous plot with very intense characters. Really enjoyed reading the three point of views. This book did feel incredibly long, slow burning but great!
Was this review helpful?
When the teenage daughter of a seemingly normal family is arrested for murder, who do you believe? Stella is the only child of a father who is a pastor and mother who is a lawyer. Their world is turned upside down as they try to make sense of how their daughter could be accused of such a horrific crime. 

Told through each family member's perspective, A Nearly Normal Family takes you on a twisty ride. Secrets are uncovered and things are not always what they seem. This book is hard to put down once you get started. It's one of the best I've read this year.
Was this review helpful?
A Nearly Normal Family was fast-paced and enjoyable. I did really struggle with the first section and I was happy when the narrator switched from Pastor Adam in the beginning to the teenage voice of Stella. I became increasingly annoyed by Adam’s perspective and rationalization of his actions. Stella’s narration was probably my favorite and held the most tension and suspense for me.By the time we started to hear from her mother, Ulrika, towards the end of the book, I had already guessed the ending. Even so, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you like a good legal thriller or family drama. You may like this one if you enjoyed House on Fire.
Was this review helpful?
A Nearly Normal Family is a legal thriller that makes you ask how well do you know your family? And what would you do to protect them? 18-year-old Stella is accused of murdering an older businessman. Why would she know him? Would she kill him? How far will her parents go to protect her? This is a page turner for sure. It has short chapters which for whatever reason keeps me reading. Just a few more pages. Just a few more. I really enjoyed it!
Was this review helpful?
An extremely engaging family drama about the Sandell family and their eighteen year old daughter who stands accused of murder. This story is told in three parts, one part for each membernof the Sandell family. Definitely worth the read.
Was this review helpful?
Wow!!  What a book!!  I enjoyed every minute of my reading journey with this slow-burning legal thriller.  Swedish author, M. T. Edvardsson, makes his debut in the United States with “A Nearly Normal Family”, and he does not disappoint!!  As it unfolds, The story reveals that this could happen to you too.

This book is the story of a traditional family that asks the reader, “What lengths would you go to protect the one you love?”  Moreover, how much do particular circumstances affect one’s moral compass:  Does that moral compass abandon the hard, fast rules of right and wrong in order to welcome a more clouded definition?  

Eighteen year old Stella Sandell is accused of the murder of a former lover.  She is a typical teenager raised in a stereotypical nuclear family.  Her father, Adam, is a pastor of the Church of Sweden, and her mother, Ulrika, is a defense attorney.  She could be your own daughter or that of any neighbor, yet she is fighting for her life and her future because of the choices she has made.  

Told in a three-part, first-person narrative that alternates between flashbacks and present day thoughts, feelings and fears, the reader discovers how this trial will affect and is affecting Adam, Ulrika, and Stella alike, and a mind-blowing ending that will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned.  Wish I could say more about it, but I do not want to spoil your journey.

I loved the way this story was written.  Not only was it super fast-paced, but it was intriguing to step inside the minds of the three main characters, as I witnessed the story unfold.  I had a hard time putting it down because I needed to learn how the series of events transpired.  Excellent Character development.  I found myself alternating among a myriad of emotions as I loved these characters, was greatly disappointed in them, and felt sorrow for the circumstances they were in.  

Thank you to Netgalley, M.T. Edvardsson, and Celadon Books for providing me a copy of this ARC in exchange for honest review.  Published/Released on June 25, 2019
Was this review helpful?
A Nearly Normal Family is an intense murder mystery. Stella is arrested so she must be guilty. But is she?  This story had me convinced that it could have been so many other people- her dad, her mom, the ex girlfriend, her best friend. My heart would be racing, convinced the truth was coming out and then the story would bend and go in another direction.  Great writing style.  I loved all of the characters, even the person who really was guilty. A great read!
Was this review helpful?
A Nearly Normal Family is a well-written, character-driven legal thriller set in Sweden. Uniquely told from the POV’s of each member of the Sandell family as the eighteen-year-old daughter awaits trial for murder, the reader is privy to all the flaws, secrets and strengths of the individual family members, their relationships with each other, and of the family unit as a whole. Stella’s best friend Amina also plays a key role in the story.

Things are never as they seem from the outside looking in, and in this case, they are not what they seem from within as well. Edvardsson does a fine job of making all three members of this seemingly perfect yet very troubled family relatable. Through the course of the book, each family member must decide how far they are willing to go to protect one another, which moral and ethical values they will hold true to, and which they are willing to forego. 

Stella is accused of murdering a man fifteen years older than she. Always headstrong and unable to control her temper, it appears she has gotten herself into a situation that cannot be brushed aside. 

Adam, a well-respected pastor, finds himself at a loss with regards to Stella, the daughter he has always been close to, but who now seemingly prefers to hold him at a distance. He will learn anguishing facts about his daughter, his wife and himself throughout the book.

Ulrika, a lawyer, has never been a very present mother; she just never felt that immediate maternal bond other women seem to come by naturally. While she envies the bond that Adam and Stella share, she is seemingly unable to bridge the gap that her choice of career over motherhood has created. This unexpected situation will test her in ways she never imagined.

A Nearly Normal family is a very intriguing read. I love that the reader gets to see three entirely different takes on the family and the events leading up to and surrounding Stella being held for murder. I highly recommend this book and hope you put it on your TBR list. It’s one of this summer’s not-to-be-missed!!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Celadon Books for allowing me to read an ARC of this novel in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Was this review helpful?
An absolutely great Scandinavian thriller about rape/murder and how much you will do for your children. 
     The family is an almost normal family in southern Sweden consisting of a father who is a pastor in the Church of Sweden, his defense lawyer wife and their daughter Stella who has just turned 18 and has been a handful of a child so far. 
     Stella is accused of the murder of a boyfriend who is 32 years old and she is then kept in jail under severe restrictions with no contact with anyone but her lawyer. 
     The book is written through 3 points of view:  first from the father, then Stella and finally her mother.   It is very well written and is one of those books that you don’t want to finish but to keep it going.  
     This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and I highly recommend it.  Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this advance copy in exchange for my unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?