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 Familyasks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?
The Sexy Nerd ‘Revue’
One thing is for certain, most families are normally dysfunctional. The Beaver/Cleaver families only exist in Hollywood, but, of course, it’s always great to dream.
Take the Sandell family. Adam, the father, was a pastor of the church. Ulrika, the mother, is a criminal defense attorney, and they produced a daughter, Stella, who is sitting in jail awaiting a date for her trial so she can find out whether she’s going to be doing time, or doing time free and clear. Trust and believe, there’s a huge difference!
How does a young teen get herself wrapped up in a brutal murder? Hmm, well for starters, Stella had entirely too much ‘freedom’ to begin with. I understand that parents would like their children to love them and think they are the ‘coolest parents on the planet,’ but the fact of the matter is, they need some structure and guidance, and Stella pretty much did what the hell she wanted to do. That’s the first problem I had with this story. However, in all fairness, this story, I believe takes place in Sweden, and perhaps they do things a little differently over there, but Stella appeared to be doing things a young lady in her twenties should be doing, instead of a teenager.
Because of Stella’s fast nature, she found herself in adult situations, wherein she then wants to cry “I’m just a teen,” but anything else she felt like doing was fair game. She meets Christopher in a bar. Yep, a bar, folks, and she’s getting her drinking on with him and her bestie Almina, and they are having the time of their lives, until they weren’t. Christopher ends up murdered in a playground while Stella has blood on her hands. Seems pretty clear cut, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. As you should know, what you think is happening, isn’t always the case. Right?
Ulrika appeared to be so self-absorbed in her own little world that Stella and Adam got lost in the shuffle somehow. And she wondered why she and her daughter weren’t more mother and daughterly like? As the reader continues along the path of mass destruction with the Sandell family, it will become clear just how far a person will go to protect his/her own. This story tests and stretches the boundaries of what is a “normal” family and the dynamics that go along with that. Overall, I felt this was a good book, but entirely too long. It could have ended at 320 pages, instead of the over 400 mark. And, I felt the ending let me down a little. I had six scenarios playing in my head with how this was going to go, and I was praying the author would have taken me to one of those destinations, but ultimately, the author decided against that. Hmm, not sure why, but I felt it would have been even more gripping had he veered down a different road. Eh, I wasn’t the writer, so I give him credit for the amazing story he managed to put together.
What I loved about this story is how you see each character’s perspective. The author did an amazing job telling each character’s story in their own words which felt authentic and genuine. They behaved the way I would imagine these characters to act. But I felt Adam, the father, was a bit naïve when it came to how the law worked and I found that to be quite baffling considering his wife was a criminal attorney. That’s sort of a stretch, perhaps? I’m not an attorney but I’ve worked in law for over thirty years, and I know quite a bit about how the law works and people’s rights, however, Adam seemed to be totally clueless and that frustrated me somewhat.
Overall, the Sexy Nerd gives A Nearly Normal Family four family gatherings. It was written expertly and with a great eye for detail told only by the crazy characters who inhabited the pages. The book goes on sale Tues., June 25, 2019. Make sure to pick up a copy or download at your favorite book retailers. This book will definitely make you think on how far you would go to protect your child? What are you willing to do? Until your next mind blowing book, keep on reading!