Cover Image: A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I can't decide what I think about this book. The title was apt, since it is really more about family dynamics than police procedure or courtroom strategy (although both play a role). 

The 18-year-old daughter of a Swedish pastor and his attorney wife is charged with murder at the outset. This serves as one of those catalyzing events that reveals to all -- the characters and the reader -- what has been going on within the family all along.

So far, so good. The author uses three points of view - the father's, the daughter's and the mother's --to further these revelations. Here is where it started to break down. A LOT of repetition between the sections came off as patronizing and insulting to the readers' intelligence. 

If I had been more invested in the book, I would have gone back and done a word-for-word comparison between how the father described a memory and how his wife and daughter did so. We EXPECT contrast among their perceptions (it's what POV is all about), but redundancy is just boring and puzzling.

Also, it felt really long. There were great, suspenseful moments, but it seemed to me they were widely separated. Perhaps if I could read it in the original, there would have been a smooth flow. Alas, I am dependent on translation.

Thanks to NetGalley for an advance reader's copy.
Was this review helpful?
I REALLY wanted to love this one after all the raving reviews I've seen for this. Unfortunately, this book just didn't work out the way that I had hoped. 

I can see why this slow building legal thrillers has gained lots of hype and to be honest I didn't see the ending coming but the translation piece here was a bit choppy for me. 

I would definitely recommend to my court room drama fans, family relationships and dysfunction, and suspense thrillers. 

I found this book to be a bit repetitive for my liking and its just was a tad annoying for me. I feel like I never truly connected with the storyline or the characters. I of course am in the minority here once again but what can I say? I wasn't that impressed! 

Yes.. there was a big buildup but ehhhh just kinda lost me here in my interest.

3 stars for me on this one

Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon for the arc in exchange for my honest review.

Publication date: 6/25/19
Published to GR: 6/23/19
Was this review helpful?
There is no such thing as justice - in or out of the court. 

3.5 nearly normal stars!

An intensely slow-burning Swedish noir about the Sandells...a nearly (but not quite) normal family, dealing with the catastrophic repercussions following the murder of a wealthy, local businessman. The alleged perpetrator? Stella Sandell, the 18 year old daughter of Adam (a pastor), and Ulrika (an attorney). 

Told from the perspectives of each family member, none of whom agree about anything that fateful night, at it's heart, A Nearly Normal Family is an engrossing family drama. How far would you go to protect your child? 

The book begins with a very dry, almost monotone version of their lives from Adam; then morphs into an angsty, anger-fueled retelling by the mercurial Stella; and finally, closes with an introspective, and surprising, glimpse from Ulrika. This is literally a story which contains a little something for everyone...murder, mystery, sex, drugs, religion, politics, morals, and a climatic courtroom conclusion.

Unlike most of the other reviews I've read...the ending, unfortunately, didn't surprise me. I honestly felt like it was quite obvious throughout, which is the main reason I opted not to give 4 stars. Having said that, everything was handled quite cleverly. I also didn't find the writing clunky or choppy, but did find it a bit repetitive. There were times I felt as though I was reading the same sentence and/or paragraph over and over.

Recommended to those who enjoy a slow-burning mystery set in a foreign country, and the effects it has on a family. 

'It takes a long time to build a life, but only an instant for it to crumble.' 

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel, in exchange for my honest review. 

Publication date: June 25, 2019
Goodreads review posted: June 23, 2019
Was this review helpful?
A family drama and a compelling psychological thriller. The story is told by three narrators and three different points of view.  A good fast-paced legal thriller.
Was this review helpful?
M.T. Edvardsson’s novel A Nearly Normal Family is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s smart and full of imagery, and also full of people I hate and cannot trust. But I love it.
I enjoyed the three different points of view of the husband, daughter, and mother. It added so much to the reader’s experience. I also enjoyed the epilogue. I could walk away understanding what happened, when and why.
Was this review helpful?
Stella is an 18 year old who is arrested on suspicion of murdering a wealthy local businessman.  Her father is a pastor and his conscience is battling between doing whatever it takes to clear her name, and  being honest & having integrity.  Stella's mom is a criminal defense attorney and she has her hands full trying to keep her husband from creating havoc with the case.  As the case goes to court, facts come out that turn the case on it's head and change everything.
This book is told in 3 parts:  narrated by the daughter, the father and the mother.  I loved that it gave the story 360 degree coverage.  The story was very fast moving and kept me riveted from beginning to end.  I highly recommend this book!
Was this review helpful?
What a great read and what a family!  Adam, a controlling pastor father, Ulrika, a workaholic mother who does not seem to be that interested in her daughter Stella and lets her do pretty much what she wants to.  Stella turns 18 as the story starts with flashbacks to her younger years.   Stella has been friends with Amina since preschool and they are inseparable.   Stella and Amina meet Christopher Olsen, who is about about 10 years older than they are, at the bar one night.  Christopher starts seeing Stella and then one night Christopher ends up murdered.  Stella is arrested and charged with the murder and the story takes a lot of twists and turns as the case goes  through the court with a very surprising ending.   Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this fascinating book  in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book a lot! 
When a mother and father lawyer and pastor find out their daughter is under suspicion for murder they find themselves questioning the one thing they each are....mom the  justice system, dad his faith. How far would you go to save your child?
Was this review helpful?
Told in three parts, each by a different character, this story repeated itself quite a bit. The father was a pastor but seemed conflicted throughout which was a bit odd. The mother, a criminal attorney was shady in her own way. Stella, at eighteen was already a mess when arrested for the murder of Chris. This story did not flow well but that could be because of the translation. Was not as enjoyable as I had hoped.
Was this review helpful?
This story is told from 3 POVs - Dad, a pastor, Mom, a lawyer, and their teenage daughter Stella. Stella has been accused of murdering a man 15 years her senior. Her parents struggle to come to terms with their daughter being a suspect - how far will they go to protect her?
I really enjoyed this book!  All the twists and turns were great and I found that I was putting myself in the mother's shoes and wondering what choices I would make in that situation.
Thank you to M.T. Edvardsson, Celadon and NetGalley for the ARC of this great book!
Was this review helpful?
I was able to read this book thanks to NetGalley. It was wonderfully written and fast paced. Each part is told from the point of view of a different main character. Stella is an 18 year old who is accused of murdering an older man whom it is discovered she is having an affair with. Her father, a pastor, is very torn but wants to support his child. Her mother is an attorney who also will do anything to protect Stella.  I immensely enjoyed this book and will highly recommending it!
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book very much. Stella has been accused of murdering her boyfriend. Her priest dad and lawyer mom are not allowed to talk to her and they are struggling to understand what happened all the while the police are building a case against their daughter. I liked how it was written from three different points of view and you learn a little more about the story from each person and their part in the murder and the following investigation. I would say this is just a great story about family and friendship and how far you go to protect the people you love.
Was this review helpful?
Everything is not as it seems. I love a good slow burning mystery, I was expecting more of a thriller.. but the suspense is so good!
Was this review helpful?
I fell for the hype. Unfortunately this one fell short for me and didn't meet my expectations. 

This book is broken up into three perspectives, the dad, the mother and the daughter. Its about how a person will go beyond measures to protect their loved ones.  I felt that some parts dragged on and where too long. The story was not suspenseful as it was pitched but I believe that must have been lost in translation. 

Thank you Celadon Books and the author for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A Nearly Normal Family, by M.T. Edvardsson

Short Take: A family drama trying to be Nordic noir.

I know I complained before about the lack of truly summery weather, but seriously y’all, WHERE IS SUMMER?? How am I supposed to read in the pool, or drink vodka on the patio, or do whatever else people do when they go outside (not super clear on that)? 

I seriously want a do-over. This is road apples (keepin’ it clean for the Amazon censors).

There is one thing that was OK about this lousy weather though, and it’s that as I was reading A Nearly Normal Family, with its rich descriptions of Sweden’s autumn weather, I was legit pulling my own blanket tighter (in freakin JUNE for cryin out loud), and it made a somewhat difficult book a little bit better.

Eighteen year old Stella is a handful - drinking, smoking weed, sneaking out to party, and of course constantly fighting with her parents, well-respected defense attorney Ulrika and well-loved pastor Adam. But it’s still shocking when she is arrested for the murder of a wealthy businessman nearly twice her age.

What follows is a delicate balancing act, as Adam and Ulrika struggle with the most basic, primal impulse parents have: protect your child at all costs. And for Adam and Ulrika, the choices they will feel compelled to make are the hardest of their lives. In a small town where everyone knows everyone, what would happen if the pastor lied? Or if the hotshot defense attorney destroyed evidence?

And at the center of all the swirling turmoil is Stella, who won’t see or speak to either of them, who holds her own secrets and catastrophic choices.

The story is told in three parts, with Adam, Stella, and finally Ulrika each taking a turn telling their story. It’s that narrative structure that presents the first real issue I had, which is the glacial tempo of the story. At a hefty-ish 400 pages, I expected a slow burn, but it feels like a lot of padding with not much story. Every character is keeping secrets which is usually A-OK in my book, but there are just too many descriptions of one character wondering what another character is doing, and not enough of things actually happening. 

Also, it could just be that the translation isn’t as effective as the original, but there’s a sense of reserve, a kind of formality and stiffness throughout the narration.  Even when someone was recounting something traumatizing and painful, I never really felt what they were feeling. There were no moments of levity, of these people who love each other just having fun and enjoying each other, making it hard to appreciate the importance of their relationships. Every interaction is ponderous and loaded with subtext, and drawn out just a few beats too long. Each major scene is repeated from different perspectives

In the end, All Is Revealed, but much of it was telegraphed pretty clearly throughout the book. I can’t help but feel that the author wanted to write only about the tension in this family, and someone convinced him that it should be a murder mystery, so he quickly sketched that out & threw it in at the last minute.

The Nerd’s Rating: THREE HAPPY NEURONS (and a cider. I’ve decided to give up on summer, and go straight into autumn drinking.)
Was this review helpful?
Be patient through the first section because this ABSOLUTELY pays off. M.T. Edvardsson absolutely knocks it out of the park with this debut family drama/legal thriller. 

The lives of the Sandell family are about to change forever. Adam and Ulrika are desperate to find a way to save their daughter, Stella, who has been charged with the murder of Christopher Olsen. Each family member is hiding something about that night and ultimately it could cost them everything. Uniquely told from the perspective of each family member, the reader gets a chilling look at the events leading up to the murder and the courtroom drama as the trial plays out. Once I found my groove - I. Couldn't. Stop. Reading.

There are a lot of really great things going for this book. I think the story is extremely clever, a perfect twist on the classic whodunit, and an emotional rollercoaster where you run through the spectrum of feelings on each character. I don't know if it's a good or bad thing that I forgot that this was told from three perspectives, but I was nearing exasperation around page 150 when I thought the whole 400 page book would be told from that of the whiny, delusional and sometimes creepy dad, Adam. He really grated on me, but obviously, that was the point. I mean, you're seeing someone go through one of the worst experiences imaginable. However, once we got to Stella's section it immediately picked up and I was SOLD. 

In the past, I've struggled with Swedish translations, but I feel like this was a smooth transition to English. The chapters were extremely short, so this made it a little hard for me to get into the rhythm of the story, but once I got used to it, it was okay. One thing I think will really work for non-Swedish readers is our unfamiliarity with the Swedish criminal justice system. 

This book might not work for everyone, but it definitely worked for me and I can't wait to re-read this again to pick up some of the clues I missed. I also really look forward to the next book by M.T. Edvardsson as he is a new name to watch!

Thanks to Netgalley, Celadon Books and M.T. Edvardsson for the opportunity to read this book and provide an honest review. 

Review Date: 6/19/19
Publication Date: 6/25/19
Was this review helpful?
This one was a little slow to get in to. I love that the story was told from 3 different perspectives. I feel like some of the story was choppy or lost at times but it was still a solid intriguing read. I think this book would be a great book club read!
Was this review helpful?
A riveting glimpse into the Swedish court system and a dysfunctional family. We see the story from three sides: Adam (father and pastor), Stella (daughter and accused) and Ulrika (mother and hard-boiled defense attorney). The three have a tight-knit family facade, but the cracks are widening as we learn more about them. The bottom line is, they all show themselves to be unreliable and that keeps you glued to the narrative right through the Epilogue. Sure to be a popular pick for vacation reading.
I could also see book groups finding much to discuss as the narrative explores the themes of family, truth and justice. 

Thank you to Celadon Books and NetGalley for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book keeps your attention and the plot is easy to follow. Stella is 18 years old and is arrested and accused of murdering a man almost double her age. She comes from a good family- her father is a pastor and her mother an attorney. Then one day their world is turned upside down when they learn that their daughter has been arrested. Just how far would they go to try to get her released. Suddenly family secrets come out and the normal upstanding parents will do anything to have Stella found not guilty.
A well written book told by the father, the mother and the daughter.
Was this review helpful?
I'm torn between 4 and 5 stars on this one. I do think some was lost in the translation of this book, which is the difference between a 4 and 5, and ultimately why I went with 4.

A Nearly Normal Family tells the background of a family (mother/father/daughter) where the daughter is accused of murder. Each part is told from one of the family members, and the reader gets insight into that character, which was an excellent storytelling device.

However, it did mean that there was repetition throughout the three stories, as the three characters viewed similar events in a different manner. I feel that even though we got Stella's section, we still didn't really get to know Stella. I wish we had heard more from Amina, her best friend, although I'm not sure what could have been cut in order to add an Amina section.

The flaw for me was that I predicted the ending early in the book. But the story was told well, and I liked the different narratives. I wanted to keep reading and the ending was satisfying.
Was this review helpful?