The plot of A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY revolves around an 18-year-old (Stella) who has been accused of murdering a shady businessman almost 15 years her senior. The book was first published in Sweden, and I thought the English translation was excellent. I loved learning about the Swedish judicial system as well as the applicable law that Stella’s defense attorney was using to argue her innocence.
The story is told in three parts; each part is respectively told from the viewpoints of Stella’s father, a pastor; Stella herself; and Stella’s mother, a criminal defense attorney. I loved the in-depth personalities the author gave each character. I also liked that all of the characters were flawed, unreliable narrators.
The story raises a lot of questions about how far parents should go to protect their children. For example, should they violate professional ethics for personal gain? If you are known for having an impeccable reputation in your field, are you willing to jeopardize it to help your child or another loved one? I would even go one step further and ask: should you as an attorney intentionally exploit a possible loophole in the system that you know exists if you think the accused is guilty? (I don't know if there is a code of ethics rule in Sweden, but in the US, an attorney must "zealously" represent his or her client.) Even though I do not have children, I found myself thinking about what I would do if I were in their shoes. I like when books make me think about hypotheticals, and this one made me think about quite a few. (There are several other interesting issues in the story that I will refrain from discussing to keep things spoiler-free.)
If you enjoy legal thrillers or international law, I highly recommend. This is one of my favorite books of 2019 hands down!
Disclaimer: I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.