A Nearly Normal Family: A Novel by M.t. EdvardssonA Nearly Normal Family: A Novel by M.t. Edvardssonsticker-burst

A Nearly Normal Family: A Novel

byM.t. EdvardssonTranslated byRachel Willson-broyles

Hardcover | June 25, 2019

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"...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?

Heather's Review

I was pulled into the story from the very first paragraph—that is truly my kind of book. And from that first paragraph, I literally could not put the book down. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting on a rainy Saturday. I found the characters well drawn, the pace of the book just pulls you along, and I felt compelled by the...

see all heather's picks
M. T. Edvardsson is an author and teacher from Trelleborg, Sweden. He is the author of multiple novels. A Nearly Normal Family is his first published in the United States. He lives with his family in Löddeköpinge, Sweden.
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Title:A Nearly Normal Family: A NovelFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:400 pages, 9.65 × 6.37 × 1.3 inShipping dimensions:9.65 × 6.37 × 1.3 inPublished:June 25, 2019Publisher:Celadon BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1250204437

ISBN - 13:9781250204431

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book!! I didn’t buy this book originally because of the price but it kept calling to me so I caved and I’m so glad I did!!! This book is amazing and worth every penny. Highly highly recommend it!
Date published: 2019-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Story! I've read my share of thrillers and courtroom dramas, but this one impressed me big time. I enjoyed the different perspectives and how secrets kept unfolding until the very end. The characters were engaging and well thought out. Best book I've read in a long time!
Date published: 2019-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing summer read! I also could not put this book down and finished it within a week. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What's Normal? I enjoyed this legal thriller about a daughter accused of murder and the fallout for the family — how the charges effect them, how they react, what the parents are willing to do to protect their daughter and their “happy family” appearance. The story is told from 3 points of view, the pastor father, the lawyer mother, and the rebellious daughter accused of murder. As the novel evolves, the family history comes out and how outward appearances are not always accurate, how “normal” is not what it always appears to be once the surface is cracked, and what families, even troubled ones, are willing to do to protect each other. The differing points of view were a good way to explore this family and their reasons for how they acted. I liked the tension and the uncertainty around who actually committed the crime. This is not an “action packed” thriller, more of a study and I did find some parts slow, especially during the father’s point of view section. Overall, though, I liked this book and the playing with the idea of what normal is and that behind closed doors we are different from the persona we present.
Date published: 2019-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Writing I bought it because the book title was catchy. Very well written, 3 perspectives, couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2019-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Didn't want to put it down I read this book in about a week and a half. The way the story was told in 3 different perspectives, but never re-told the story was amazing. The writer was able to allow you to really feel the different characters telling the story. I was engaged the entire time always wanting to read another chapter. I recommend this book hands down for a great summer read!
Date published: 2019-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I was speechless, major book hang over after this!
Date published: 2019-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This book was a page turner I could not put it down!
Date published: 2019-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intensely suspenseful page-turner This book is the definition of a page-turner, a masterpiece of suspense. I loved the way the book is broken into three sections: The Father, The Daughter, The Mother. With each section, we get a distinctly different narrative voice, a little more background information and accompanying secrets, and a new perspective on the murder and how this "nearly normal family" started down a destructive spiral. Are any of them telling the whole truth? Who has all the information? It was fully engrossing, and even when I was caught up in the "current" storyline of the murder investigation, the flashbacks that fleshed out each character were always just as interesting. Each person's past informs how they choose to act during the investigation, and the lingering sense that the full story still hasn't been uncovered is wrapped up in an ultimately satisfying conclusion. A disturbing examination of how far people will go to protect a reputation, a friend, a daughter.
Date published: 2019-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heather's Pick I was pulled into the story from the very first paragraph—that is truly my kind of book. And from that first paragraph, I literally could not put the book down. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting on a rainy Saturday. I found the characters well drawn, the pace of the book just pulls you along, and I felt compelled by the narrative to the very end. The book also raises a key moral question, which is what makes it so good for a book club. And that question is: What would you do and how far would you go to save your child from a lifetime in prison?
Date published: 2019-06-04

From the Author

"...A compulsively readable tour de force." -The Wall Street JournalNew 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?

Read from the Book

We were standing in the entryway. My hand on the lock. Ulrika’s whole body was shaking Why had Michael Blomberg called? What was Stella doing at the police station? "Tell me,” I said to Ulrika ;“All I know is what Michael said.” Michael Blomberg. It had been several years since I’d heard his name. Blomberg was well-known in more than just legal circles. He had made a career as one of the country’s foremost defense attorneys and had represented defendants in a great many high-profile cases. His picture had been in the evening papers and he was called upon as an expert on TV. He was also the man who had once taken Ulrika under his wing and paved the way for her success as a defense attorney. Ulrika was breathing hard. Her eyes were darting like frightened birds. She tried to squeeze past me and out the door, but I caught her, held her in place between my arms. “Stella is in police custody.” I heard what she said, the words reached me, but they were impossible to comprehend. “There must be some mistake,” I said. Ulrika shook her head. A moment later, she collapsed against my chest and her phone crashed to the floor. “She’s suspected of murder,” Ulrika whispered. I stiffened. The first thing I thought of was Stella’s stained top. Ulrika called a taxi as we hurried to the street. Outside the recycling station she dropped my hand. “Hold on,” she said, stumbling in among the recycling bins and containers. I stayed put on the sidewalk and heard her coughing and throwing up. Soon a black taxi appeared. “How are you feeling?” I whispered as we put on our seatbelts in the back. “Like shit,” Ulrika said, coughing into her hand. Then she typed on her phone with both thumbs as I rolled down the window and bathed my face in the fresh air. “Can you go a little faster?” Ulrika asked the driver, who grumbled a little before stepping on the gas My mind turned to Job. Was this my trial? Ulrika explained that Michael Blomberg was waiting for us at the police station. “Why him?” I asked. “Isn’t that an awfully big coincidence?” “He’s an extraordinarily talented attorney.” “Sure, but what are the chances?” “Sometimes things just happen, honey. You can’t control everything.” I don’t want to say I disliked Blomberg. I don’t like speaking badly of others that way. Experience tells me that when you dislike someone on such vague grounds, the problem often rests with you. I tipped the driver and then had to jog up the stairs to the police station, where Ulrika was already pulling open the door. Blomberg met us in the lobby. I’d almost forgotten what a big man he is. He came lumbering over to us like a bear, his jacket flapping around his stomach. He was tanned and wearing a blue shirt and an expensive suit, and his slicked-back hair curled at the back of his neck. “Ulrika,” he said, but he stepped right up to me and shook my hand be- fore he embraced my wife. “What’s going on, Michael?” “Take it easy,” he said. “We just concluded the interrogation and this nightmare will be over soon. The police have come to an extremely hasty conclusion.” Ulrika sighed heavily. “Stella was identified by a young woman,” Blomberg said. “Identified?” “Perhaps you heard that a body was found on a playground over by Pilegatan?” “And Stella was supposedly there? On Pilegatan?” I said. “There must be some mistake.” “That’s exactly what it is. But this girl lives in the same building as the man who was murdered and claims to have seen Stella there last night. She thinks she recognizes Stella from H & M. That seems to be all the investigators have.” “That’s ridiculous. Can she really be in custody on such flimsy grounds?” I thought back to the night before and tried to remember the details. How I had lain awake, unable to sleep, waiting for her; how Stella finally came home and showered before slipping into her room. “Is she detained?” Ulrika asked. “What’s the difference?” I asked. “The police have the right to take someone into custody, but in order to keep them there a prosecutor must order detention,” Blomberg said. “The lead interrogator just has to brief the prosecutor on duty and then Stella will be released. I assure you. This is all a mistake.” He sounded far too confident, just as I remembered him, and that worried me. Anyone so free of doubt is certain to lack attention to detail and engagement as well “But why such a rush to bring her in?” I asked. “If they don’t have any- thing else to go on?” “This case is a real hot potato,” Blomberg sighed. “The police want to act quickly. The fact is, the victim isn’t just anyone.” He turned to Ulrika and lowered his voice a notch. “It’s Christopher Olsen. Margaretha’s son.” Ulrika gasped. "Mar . . . Margaretha’s son?” “Who’s Margaretha?” I asked. Ulrika didn’t even look at me. "The dead man is named Christopher Olsen,” Blomberg said. “His mother is Margaretha Olsen, a professor of criminal law.” A professor? I shrugged. “What does that have to do with anything?” “Margaretha is very well-known in legal circles,” Blomberg said. “Her son has also made a name for himself in a number of circles. A successful businessman, he owns real estate; he sits on lots of boards.” “Why would that matter?” I said, my irritation mounting. At the same time, I recalled my own words, that this sort of thing only happens to alcoholics and drug addicts. That had certainly been an assumption full of prejudice, but it was also based on empirical evidence and statistics. Sometimes you have to close your eyes to the exceptions to keep from going under. “Maybe it shouldn’t matter,” said Blomberg. Reading between the lines, it was clear that it did matter, and that he wasn’t sure there was anything wrong with that fact. “Margaretha Olsen’s son,” Ulrika said. “How old is . . . was he?” “Thirty-two, I think. Or thirty-three. Deadly force with a bladed weapon. The police are being very tight-lipped with the details. During the interrogation, they were mostly interested in Stella’s whereabouts yesterday evening and last night.” Yesterday evening and last night “When was this man murdered?” Ulrika asked. “They’re not sure, but the witness heard arguing and shouting just after one o’clock. Were you awake when Stella got home?” Ulrika turned to me and I nodded. There I’d been, tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep. The text I’d sent, without receiving a reply. So my worry hadn’t been unfounded. I thought of how Stella had come home and clattered around in the bathroom and laundry room. What time had it been? “There must be someone who can give her an alibi, I said.” Both Ulrika and Blomberg looked at me

Editorial Reviews

"...A compulsively readable tour de force." -The Wall Street JournalNew 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." -New York Times Book Review Summer Reading Issue "Compelling."-New York Times Book Review Podcast"Edvardsson ably weaves themes of parental guilt and sacrifice into a nuanced family drama."-Kirkus"An intense legal thriller that successfully plays realistic, gripping emotion against a shocking legal twist." -Booklist"At its core, A Nearly Normal Family asks: How well do you know your loved ones? Or your best friend? Or anyone? Whom can you trust? Edvardsson doesn't give easy answers, and even throws in commentary about the Swedish legal system when it comes to determining guilt or innocence. But the author raises provocative questions, wraps them up in a propulsive thriller and delivers an ultra-satisfying read that's far from ordinary."-Shelf Awareness "A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY is a canny, intensely suspenseful legal thriller. A 18-year-old teenager is accused of murdering a 32-year-old man, provoking a crisis for every person close to her and challenging the commandments of the law as they confront the bonds of love and family life."-Scott Turow, Author of Presumed Innocent and Testimony"M. T. Edvardsson has written a deceptive and riveting novel. A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY will make you question everything you know about those closest to you."-Karin Slaughter, Author of 18 international bestsellers