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?
A Nearly Normal Family is a tense thriller told in three parts – firstly, from the perspective of father Adam (a pastor who has a strong sense of right and wrong…or does he?), then mother Ulrika (a criminal defence lawyer, interestingly!), and finally daughter Stella.
Stella has been arrested on suspicion of murder, and the book takes us back to the beginning, as Adam talks us through the events leading up to that fateful night. However, we’re never sure if we’re getting the whole picture, because there seems to be a whole world of secrets that Stella is keeping from her father – and her mother. The storyline is addictive and I hugely enjoyed the way it moved through the three perspectives, slowly uncovering more and more about what actually happened. The ending is surprising but finished the book off really well, in my opinion.
I really like the author’s writing style (though I’m aware this is translated) and, although some parts moved along quite slowly, I enjoyed finding out more and more about the characters and their motivations. A Very Nearly Normal Family shines a light on family life and the difficulties of those tumultuous teenage years, combining some legal details with family secrets, and questioning what the right level of sacrifice is for your family.
Many thanks to Pan Macmillan, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.