A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Edvardsson
Publication Date: 25 June 2019
Genre: Adult Fiction – Legal Thriller
Publisher: Celadon Books
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?
A Nearly Normal Family is a slow-burn legal thriller that contains a murder mystery that obviously needs to be solved, but the focal point of this story is not the who-dun-it. It’s the familial dynamics of the Sandell family. The story is told from three POVs: the father (Adam), the daughter (Stella), and lastly, the mother (Ulrika).
The story opens with Adam’s perspective. Adam is a pastor of the Church of Sweden, and his family is the epitome of happiness and ordinary. Well that’s until his eighteen year old daughter is arrested as a suspect for the murder of Christopher Olsen, a business tycoon who is 15 years her senior. Adam and Stella have always had the perfect father daughter relationship, even though that relationship has started to strain in the last few years as Stella discovers herself as a teenager. The timeline for Stella’s whereabouts coincides with the murder timeline, and Stella’s only alibi is Adam. Surely Adam wouldn’t commit perjury. He’s a man of God. But what would you do to protect your child from persecution?
I don’t want to go into the revelations that occurred during each of the three POVs since that’s just not fun for anyone. However, what I will say is that as you read each of these character’s story, you realize quite quickly that this family is far from the perfect facade that they present to their friends and co-workers. Each of them has their reasons for why they ultimately chose the decisions that they did even though they knew the potential consequences that would follow.
Another character who played a huge role in this story is Amina, Stella’s best friend and other half. She didn’t get her own POV, but she is mentioned in all three. She is the antithesis of Stella’s personality. She’s the girl who has the amazing grades, stays out of trouble, and obeys her parents. This definitely caused a rift in Stella’s relationship with Ulrika since Ulrika overtly preferred Amina to her own daughter.
Honestly, by the end of the book, the revelation of Chris’ killer was no longer my main interest. I was so incredibly fascinated by the intricacy of the web of lies that each of the family members spun in order to protect their family.
Overall, if you love stories that delve into complicated familial relationships that slowly reveal themselves to you then this book is for you. If you love a good murder mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end then this book is for you.
Thank you to Celadon Books for providing an ARC for review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
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