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A Nearly Normal Family Bets On...

A Nearly Normal Family

written by M.T. Edvardsson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

July 2019

A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY by M.T. Edvardsson has been well translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles --- and it’s a complete page-turner. It is set in Sweden and opens at the end of summer with 18-year-old Stella Sandell having been accused of murdering Christopher Olsen, a man in his early 30s. From the start, she garners empathy from readers, mostly due to their age gap. If she is not the older adult in this scenario, how can she be guilty? But let’s face it, she is not a little darling; she’s a teen rebel. Could she have done it?

The story is told from three different points of view. It opens with Adam, who is a pastor, sharing his thoughts about his daughter, Maya. There is a bond between them, though their relationship has been strained recently. Is it just adolescence or something bigger? He is ready to do anything to protect her.

Part two belongs to Stella, and from her we hear about her best friend, Amina, and how they spent their summer together. During this summer, Stella has been having an affair --- one that has gone wickedly sideways because, oh, the man she is having an affair with is the victim. She deconstructs what went on, but leaves readers wondering if this really is the truth.

Intrigued? Well, you have not met Ulrika, the wife/mother in the story. She has a third version of what has happened, which will get you wondering just who is doing what. And I should mention that she is an attorney, and a very successful one. But, alas, she has lots to try to frame up here to keep Stella free.

Someone is lying, and someone --- or some people, I should say --- is telling the truth. The question is: Who is who? And to what lengths will everyone go to ensure that Stella is not found guilty, despite the overwhelming evidence?

For those who were fans of William Landay’s DEFENDING JACOB, you will catch the same kind of edginess and familial tension with A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY.

Book groups that want to dissect a thriller could have an interesting conversation about story structure, as much as they would about the plot and characters. And of course, they can plunge into the idea of just what is “normal.”

A Nearly Normal Family
written by M.T. Edvardsson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles