“A Nearly Normal Family”
Written by M.T. Edvardsson
Review written by Diana Iozzia
“A Nearly Normal Family” was a very enigmatic and intriguing thriller, offering a refreshing perspective from the father of a girl who has been accused of murder. Edvardsson creates very realistic, average characters but makes them captivating by manipulating their thoughts and actions, which in turn manipulate the readers’ thoughts and reactions.
Stella is accused of murdering a man much older than herself, although she is only eighteen, a decent student, and an innocent young girl. However, as our story develops, we start to realize that she wasn’t so innocent and she wasn’t such a great daughter. Her father, a pastor, and her mother, a defense attorney, risk everything to prove their daughter innocent: even though they are not sure of her innocence.
This thriller is considered to be a legal thriller, which would be a useful way to describe this genre. In my opinion, I think it has a great premise, but the characters are much more of a focus, than the legal proceedings. I felt this was much less of a legal thriller and more like a very complex domestic thriller.
In part 1, we read through Adam’s perspective. As Stella’s father, he speaks all about how he and his wife raised her. He speaks about all of the problems they faced disciplining her, which gives a great insight into her personality. In part 2, we hear from Stella in her jail cell, as she awaits her trial. She tells us all of her sides of things, which are not too different from Adam’s. Interestingly enough, although the whole family’s side of the story, this does not feel redundant or boring. It’s intriguing to see who believes what and which lies they are telling, almost like playing game of Clue or deducing like Sherlock Holmes. In part three, we hear from Stella’s mother and Adam’s wife, Ulrika. Her side of the story is much more intense and certainly the most shocking one.
The court procession builds to a trial with Stella and her best friend. Both girls could have murdered Christopher, a possibly pedophilic and abusive man. But who was really there? Was it either of them?
Let’s talk about the ending without giving it away at all. Although I thought it have might have went in a different direction, I still felt satisfied how it played out. This is just one of those stories that requires a skeleton-like review, hardly enough details, because you really just have to read it for yourself. I think this story offers a lot of poignant and effective questions for this genre: What is guilt? What is innocence? How far would you go to protect the ones you love?
I received this book in exchange for reading and reviewing purposes. Thank you to Celadon Books for the opportunity.