A Nearly Normal Family

A Nearly Normal Family

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Overview

"...A compulsively readable tour de force." —The Wall Street Journal

New York Times Book Review recommends M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family and lauds it as a “page-turner” that forces the reader to confront “the compromises we make with ourselves to be the people we believe our beloveds expect.” (NYTimes Book Review Summer Reading Issue)

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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250204431
Publisher: Celadon Books
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 7,920
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

M. T. Edvardsson is an author and teacher from Trelleborg, Sweden. He is the author of multiple novels and books for young readers in Sweden. A Nearly Normal Family is his first novel published in the United States. He lives with his family in Löddeköpinge, Sweden.

Reading Group Guide

Whose point of view did you enjoy reading the most, and why?

Do you think a parent would read this book differently than someone who doesn’t have a child?

What do you consider a normal family?

Do you think Ulrika had her daughter’s best interests at heart?

What was Adam’s greatest motivation: protecting his daughter, his family or his reputation?

How did you feel about Shirine and the books that she gives to Stella to read: The Bell Jar, The Catcher in the Rye, Crime and Punishment, and Thérèse Raquin.

Author M.T. Edvardsson is also a teacher. How do you think this affected his portrayal of Stella and Amina?

How did Ulrika’s relationship with Amina affect her relationship with Stella?

Discuss Stella and Amina’s friendship.

Have you had any friendships in your life that caused you to do something you regretted?

How did Stella’s time at church camp affect her relationship with her parents?

How far would you go for your child?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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A Nearly Normal Family 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I never read and this kept my attention! 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. I finished the books in less than three days and I don’t regret it! I highly recommend!
Anonymous 6 months ago
*****
CLynnT 7 months ago
“It’s such a strange job I have, where life and death shake hands in the foyer.” What a poetic yet prophetic statement by the father of this family, whose daughter has been charged with murder. I enjoy reading the eloquent writing style of the author, M.T. Edvardsson. It flows and meanders as it weaves a net I’m getting caught in. So many questions I have, so many insinuations, I must continue reading. First and foremost, does this pastor place his hand on the Bible and lie in court? What a tangled web we weave when protecting those we love. Adam and Ulrika have done a good job raising their teenage daughter, Stella. Imagine their shock when Stella is arrested and accused of murder, then denied bail or visitation. Time drags by slowly, especially for Adam, who takes it upon himself to solve the crime since the police obviously have made up their mind that they’ve got the guilty party in jail and aren’t doing their job. Told from three very different angles, this novel drives home the problem with perspective and intent. What looks one way to an onlooker may very well be a devastatingly different situation. But to what degree does this apply when their daughter does look guilty at first glance? This is an eloquent tale of a quiet and boring family suddenly thrust into a situation that won’t end well for anyone. The people, their feelings, and their pain will stay with you. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks so much to Celadon Books and NetGalley for making it available.)
Anonymous 15 days ago
ok
Anonymous 23 days ago
too choppy, hard to follow who, when,where. so disappointing.
Carolefort 3 months ago
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.
Anonymous 4 months ago
This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I continually questioned who had committed the crime after every page and found myself devouring this book! M.T, you have outdone yourself! This was unreal and I want MORE!
412037RH 5 months ago
Excellent Book!!! I love how the authour, M.T. Edvardsson, seperated the story line with the family. She had the father's version first, then the daughter and finally the mother with the Epilogue at that the end to tie everything up. It was so well written I did not know how the story was going to end until the very end. The story is about a family that on the outside looks normal and from certain characters in the book they think they are normal. There daughter is put in jail for a crime. The father is a pastor and the mother is a lawyer. You see how everyone is in the same family but looks and takes situations differently. This is a must read!
Anonymous 5 months ago
Ulrika and Adam Sandell, are celebrating the birthday of their daughter, Stella, age 18. Adam is a pastor and a great believer in God. Ulrika is an attorney. They are both loving and good parents. Stella has a long time friend, Amina, who wants to be a doctor. At times, Stella has had trouble controlling her temper. Today, Stella has been arrested for the stabbing murder of Christopher Olsen, 32. As it happens, his mother, Margaretha, is a professor of criminal law. Christopher has been a successful businessman. How did he get involved with Stella? Did Stella truly stab him to death? This book is a study in the lengths that a parent or friend will go to protect their child or friend. The time Stella spends in jail awaiting trial and the agony of her parents as they await that time. This time is told through the viewpoint of Stella, Adam, and Ulrika. While I’m sure that many readers found this fascinating, I did not. I realize that this book takes place in Sweden and, perhaps, the freedoms given a teenager may be a bit looser than here in the U.S., I still could not help but question some of the behavior that Adam and Ulrika found acceptable for Stella. In addition, the story seems to drone on for too long a time. Sorry. Not my cup of tea. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Kelsey Bickmore 5 months ago
At first when I started this book, it was kind of hard to get into it. I was not so much a fan of the Father's section. Adam came off as too controlling, trying to keep his little world perfect, even though it was far from it. He found the witnesses and made more of a mess trying to get his daughter to be released from jail. The Daughter's section is where I got hooked into the story, learning about Stella's life and why she was the way she was. She made poor choices sometimes and had anger issues but what teenager doesn't? That part of the story, I got through really quickly and I got very invested in how the case was going who might be the killer of Chris. The Mother's section ended things and though I wasn't a fan so much of how Ulrika was, she pulled all the bits together and it was an exciting finish. I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would.
Dalai-Momma-Drama 5 months ago
Told in three parts from three different members of a highly dysfunctional family. The teenager daughter is charged with murdering someone both her parents set out to support her as staunchly as they have tried to raise her. However, Stella has not been the easiest person to deal with. A force to be reckoned with and a mind of her own....we go through the trials and tribulations and speculations of what happened...what really happened....and who is getting blamed for all of this. It's exciting and salacious...a wild ride...and absolutely entertaining.
JReppy 5 months ago
"A Nearly Normal Family" is an English translation of a Swedish novel. It is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read. It focuses on the Sandell family -- Adam, Ulrika, and teenage daughter Stella. Shortly after turning eighteen, Stella is accused of murdering Christopher Olsen, a wealthy businessman whose mother is a well-known and influential law professor. Adam is a pastor and Ulrika is a lawyer and both are very image-conscious, especially Adam, who wants everyone to think their family is normal, although Stella has had some behavioral issues that have cast the family in a negative light at times. However, beneath the façade, there are numerous cracks in the foundation of the family; and the family will be tested by the murder charges. The story is broken up into three main parts, with the first part focusing on Adam's perspective of their family life, the issues he and Ulrika have experienced with Stella, and his actions following Stella's arrest, including behavior that crosses ethical lines. The second part focuses on Stella, alternating between her time in jail and earlier events in her life, including her connection to Mr. Olsen. The third part is from the perspective of Ulrika, alternating between the trial and earlier events. Also critical to the story is Amina, the best friend of Stella. The characters are well-developed, with a good mix of strength, weakness, failings, and uncertainty. The author explores how far people will go to protect their loved ones and to keep up appearances, with Adam and Ulrika both contemplating or engaging in actions that could or will ruin their professional careers and could tear the family apart, while Stella takes actions to protect Amina. Each person is hiding things with the goal of helping the others, not trusting that the others can handle the whole truth (or at least the whole truth as the particular character understands it). The plot is well-paced, with information coming out at a steady pace, but keeping the reader off-balance, unsure which version of events is most accurate. There are some rather good surprises. The ending is less surprising for what actually happened (as the reader will likely have guessed the most likely scenarios), than for what particular characters publicly reveal. Stella is the most enjoyable character and her conversations with Shirine, the psychologist she meets with in jail, are some of the best parts of the book, delving into the psychological motives of rebellion, violence, psychopaths, lying, etc. I received a copy of the e-book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
heidifk 5 months ago
A legal thriller told from three different perspectives. Stella, an 18 year old, is accused of murdering a 32 year old man and put in jail to await trial. Her perspective is sandwiched between her father's - he's a pastor - and her mother's - she's a lawyer. The multiple perspectives worked well for me!
novelnebula 6 months ago
A man is found murdered and a teenage daughter is to blame. Her parents do everything they can to save her and prove her innocence. The father, a pastor is willing to lie in court. The mother, a lawyer is putting her reputation on the line. What really went down that night? Stellas character was so relatable to me. She shares a similar past with me, so i really clicked with her. This is a family drama that had me hooked. The part with the father was slow building, but had me interested. I loved that the booms was set in pieces of everyones point of view. I really enjoyed getting to know each character. I found each point of view unique and well executed. I would love to see more from this author like this!
Bookapotamus 6 months ago
THIS BOOK WAS BRILLIANT. Fascinating. Captivating. Unputdownable. I don’t read a lot of legal dramas/thrillers. But I will now. Especially if they are written by M. T. Edvardsson! It’s not even easy to describe the genius behind this compelling murder mystery. A 32-year-old man is murdered. As far as potential suspects go – all signs point to Stella, just 18 years old. But how could it be Stella? Her mother is a respected attorney. Her father a pastor. Their family is picture perfect perfection…or does it only seem that way? This is told in an unusual but intriguing 3-part structure that delves into the minds of not only Stella, but her mother and father as well. Just how many lies are being told? How many secrets does this family have hidden? And at what lengths would a family go to protect their own?! Pure genius. One minute I loved every character and felt awful for their situation. The next minute, I distrusted every character and thought they all belonged in prison. The alternating points of view and how it see-saws between the present day trial and what happened that fateful night blend seamlessly, and it’s easy to question the motives of every major player. The narrative is so twisted, you find the characters questioning each other as well, as they begin self-assessing their own devotion to family and faith.
Tracy34 6 months ago
When the body of a young man is found in a playground his even younger girlfriend soon becomes the main suspect.  Stella Sandell is just eighteen years old with her whole life ahead of her or she thought she did until that fateful night. The Swedish legal system is very different from the British one and that side of the story was very interesting and informative. There were, however, for me, too many cliches of the type unfortunately found all too often in family legal dramas. The story is told from three points of view, those of Stella's father, Adam, Stella herself and her mother, Ulrika. There are flashbacks throughout but the present day is viewed gradually by the three different pairs of eyes and I enjoyed their contrasting views of each other very much. I was able to read an advanced copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an unbiased review and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good legal drama, especially if they are interested in a more uncommon legal process.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I think I'm missing something with this book. I just wasn't into it at all! I feel like it could have been told in 100 pages if even. The plot was pretty straight forward and it just felt more like day to day story telling than an intriguing story. I kept hoping the ending would be great and make up for it but it was just sort of blah. There were no twists, no surprises, no great reveals, it just.. was. I honestly would have rated this lower based just on enjoyment but the writing was very, very well done. I'd like to read more by Edvardsson. I loved his style but just did not care for this story.
KindigBlog 6 months ago
‘Lying is an art that few people have fully mastered’ A Nearly Normal Family is a superbly crafted book. The plot is split into thirds – we start in the perspective of the pastor father Adam, then onto rebellious daughter Stella and finally lawyer mother Ulrika. Each perspective is completely different and compelling in their own way. This is also a lovely way of pacing the story as you get a lot of time to really get to know each character but then also get the twist of seeing the same events from a different perspective which keeps it fresh and exciting. I really enjoyed the plot and felt that the ending went in a direction I was not expecting at all which was nice. I did feel like there were sometimes I questioned a character’s actions or felt they were a little out of keeping with the rest of the novel. Although this is a translated text I didn’t feel that it lacked depth from this as some reviewers have pointed out – I found it an engaging and gripping read. Overall A Nearly Normal Family is a well crafted thriller with a good twist. Thank you to NetGalley & Pan Macmillan for a chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
vickeyu 6 months ago
One Of The Best Crime Novels of the Year! This story was unique because it was the same story but told by three different people. When a wealthy young real estate developer is found murdered on a playground, an eighteen year old girl who was romantically involved is arrested. The story is then told from the perspective of her father, a pastor, her mother, an attorney and from the girl herself. I promise that you really won't know exactly what happened until the very end. This is crime writing at its' best! I could see myself in the parent's eyes and realized what lengths I, or any parent would go to, to protect their child. Do we ever really know our spouse or our children? This was an easy reading but captivating book that I didn't put down until I finished it.
Momma_Becky 6 months ago
Normal is subjective, right? It would seem so in this drama that's bursting at the seams with family dysfunction. There has been a lot of hype surrounding A Nearly Normal Family, so maybe I had it built up a little too high before I even started reading. Whatever the reason, this one just didn't do it for me. There is some pretty good courtroom drama, which is something I like, but the book is drawn out at times, making it a bit too easy to set aside. Parts of the story are choppy and awkward, but that may be due to the translation, and that's something I can overlook. The deal breaker for me is that this one just didn't hold my interest. In the end, it didn't live up to the hype for me and was much easier to set aside than to pick back up.
Persephonereads 6 months ago
5 out of 5 stars Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon Books for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book for an honest review. Adam always thought he, his wife Ulrika and their 18 year old daughter Stella were a pretty normal family. That is until one day in late August arrested on suspicion of killing Chris Olsen. Adam who is a pastor finds himself question everything he thought he believed in. Told from the point of view from each family member the truth slowly begins to unravel. Adam who is a pastor finds himself questioning everything he thought he believed in. Told from the point of view from each family member the truth slowly begins to unravel. Stella has never been your average child, she is the type of girl that lives life by her own rules. Yes, she has been a bit wild but could she ever kill someone? Adam certainly doesn't believe she could do something like that. While Adam sets out to prove Stella's innocence, Ulrika does everything to hold their family together even while Stella is incarcerated. This is a very well written novel and as someone from America I really found it interesting to read about the legal system in Sweden. I wouldn't say that this was a thriller. It was definitely more of a slow burn mystery/family drama/courtroom drama. I would definitely pick this up if you want to lose yourself in an engaging mystery.
Anonymous 6 months ago
WendyGo 6 months ago
What's a normal family i the first place? I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller, and not just because I was on the beach! The author starts out telling the reader about this family, mom-lawyer, dad-pastor, daughter-Stella and her best friend, Amina. The first section is about the father, and, just when you're thinking, hey, what about the daughter? The 'dad' section ends and you get to hear about the daughter. And, just when you're thinking but, hey, what about mom? Daughter section ends, and mom section begins. Great anticipation by the author! Enjoyable fast-paced beach read suspense/thriller. I will definitely read more from this author. @celadeonbooks
Lsmdtb5 6 months ago
I really liked this book. Very fast paced, and a quick read. I liked that it was told in the 3 main characters points of view. You were able to figure out more of the truth as you read further in. I would recommend this edge of the seat legal thriller. I enjoyed reading this story a lot. I will definitely look into other books by this author. Celadon Publishers is quickly becoming my favorite publisher house. I don’t think I’ve read a book from them that I did not love! I have read a lot of thrillers lately, however Celadon’s authors seem to still be able to keep me guessing. I have already recommended this book to several people. My mother is reading it next, then onto my sister. Thank you Celadon, once again for making this reader happy
Kittylou 6 months ago
Thank you to Netgalley and Celadon Books for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book for an honest review. A nice solid murder mystery but nothing that made me go "wow". Well done writing at a nice pace made this a pretty quick read and held my interest throughout the story. The story is written in short chapters from different perspectives of the relationship between the family, consisting of the 3 main characters, and the possibility the daughter could have murdered somone. I love that these characters are as flawed as they come but have a steadfast love for each other. I like a story to have a family with real life dysfunctional problems instead of a fairytale all is well in the world family! I seem to connect with the story better! The plot leaves you speculating "who-done-it" and a surprise ending! You won't go wrong when you reach for a copy of A Nearly Normal Family! Strong 4 stars!