STAFF PICK: A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

Title: A Nearly Normal Family
Author: M.T. Edvardsson
Narrators: Emily Watson, Richard Armitage, Georgia Maguire

If you haven’t heard of M.T. Edvardsson, the author of A Nearly Normal Family, then that is going to change really, really, soon. Edvardsson is not a new writer, and has written a number of critically acclaimed books in his native Sweden, both in the genres of thriller, and young adult. You can see these different aspects of his writing at play in A Nearly Normal Family, which is the first of his novels to be available in audio in Canada and the US.

A Nearly Normal Family initially appealed to me because of a question asked in the synopsis of the book: “How far would you go to protect your children?” As a parent, instantly you want to say “I’d do anything”, but then you start to think. Would you lie to the police? Lie in court? A Nearly Normal Family challenges these ideas through the story of eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell, a girl accused of the murder of a shady businessman. Her father is a pastor, her mother, a criminal defense attorney. They find their morality tested to the extreme as they, of course, defend their daughter, even in the face of evidence, and in the aftermath of their daughter’s strange behavior.

The book is told in three parts. The first section is from the perspective of Adam, the father, the second, from the perspective of Stella, and the third, from Ulrika, Stella’s mother. What I find incredibly interesting is that with each section, your perception of the characters changes. Without giving anything away, I found that when Adam narrated, I felt sympathy for him, and very little for Stella. When Stella narrated, I began to dislike her parents, and felt so sorry for her. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions!

While this is listed as a legal thriller, and there’s a lot of great courtroom drama, it’s also very much a domestic thriller, with a lot of flashbacks, and background about the family, and psychological twists and turns.

The narrators of this book are amazing! Emily Watson, Georgia Maguire, and Richard Armitage, all of whom are excellent actors and narrators, bring gravitas to this serious and dramatic listen.

If you’re a fan of legal thrillers, domestic thrillers, or anything with psychological twists and turns, then this will certainly appeal to you. I think we will be seeing much more of Edvardsson in the future,  if this amazing novel is anything to go by.

Publisher Summary: 

M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the listener 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?

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