A Nearly Normal Family

Length: 12 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,051 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Book Review recommends M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family and lauds it as a “page-turner” that forces the reader to confront “the compromises we make with ourselves to be the people we believe our beloveds expect”. (NYTimes Book Review Summer Reading Issue)

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 15 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?

©2019, 2019 Text copyright M. T. Edvardsson, Translation copyright Rachel Wilson-Broyles (P)2019 Macmillan Digital Audio

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Editor's Pick

Your must-listen summer thriller is here
"M.T. Edvardsson’s buzzy English debut proposes a Scandinavian-crime twist on Tolstoy: All happy families are reliable narrators, but a family facing a murder investigation is unreliable in its own maddeningly messed-up way. Told from the point of view of the father, a morally minded pastor; enigmatic 18-year-old daughter Stella; and the mother, a criminal lawyer, A Nearly Normal Family is a brilliant legal thriller that, in Rashomon-like layers, slowly reveals the truth from fractured perspectives. Pro tip—the audio version is the one to beat, with Richard Armitage (alert the #ArmitageArmy), Emily Watson, and Georgia Maguire perfectly cast in the three roles."
Kat J., Audible Editor

What listeners say about A Nearly Normal Family

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting storytelling

This was a decently entertaining book, especially the way it was told through three different perspectives because it wasn’t just three separate accounts of the exact same thing — rather it was a blend of flashbacks and present circumstances. The story is set in Sweden and centers around the Swedish judicial and law enforcement system. The father is a pastor but did not behave like one in almost every way, you wouldn’t even know he was a church official if it wasn’t mentioned by him or the other characters. Although the summary focuses on the story being one of family and what they’ll do for each other, it’s as equally if not more, a story of how strong the bonds of friendship can be and what it can withstand. The story also encompasses image and the disparity of how families want to be perceived compared to what is actually going on at home. It is quite long and I can see how it may seem like it’s dragging on but again, the different perspectives is interesting and makes up for it.

38 people found this helpful

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No story

It’s well written and interesting in parts for sure but in the end just a lot of meandering thoughts going absolutely nowhere. It’s books like this, that makes me think anyone can be get a book published these days. Readers want a good story with a beginning, middle and end. You can have some loose ends but the ending can’t remain a secret, a cliff hanger.

16 people found this helpful

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This was not...good...

When one has an assembled voice cast as prestigious as this one - one expects an amazing performance of a story that is lauded in reviews by Amazon users and critics. My review would indicate I was let down.

The book had a promising description - a "nearly normal family" finds themselves in the middle of a murder investigation. Adam, a pastor, and Ulrika, a lawyer, are shocked to learn their daughter, Stella is accused of the murder of a man who is twice her age. Told from the perspective of all three characters, the case unfolds under the lens of all three of the family.

The majority of the story is told from the perspective of Adam. Richard Armitage, a well-respected actor PUT ME TO SLEEP. If you have a hard time dozing off at night, just listen to him read it for a chapter or two. He spoke in the same monotone the entire time! It was hard to care about anything that was going on in the story because it sounded like Armitage was half asleep.

Although Georgia Maguire and Emily Watson's narration does elevate the story - Watson specifically - it was hard to care about the story, especially since Armitage's part dragged on.

Story-wise, there's nothing new here. Even the story told from three different perspectives has been done to death. It's supposed to unfold in a suspenseful way, but the pieces don't necessarily connect, and it doesn't feel like anything is truly resolved. I also am consistently challenged by authors continually using rape as a way to move the story forward or make the female character complex. In this case, they double down and have rape as a central occurrence three times for two different characters. It's lazy writing and it's cliche.

I didn't even care to find out the resolution by the end...I just wanted to be done with the slog. It had so much potential, but it was bogged down by never-ending narrative rambling. It wasn't helped by the sub-par narration in the beginning.

16 people found this helpful

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So good

Great writing. Couldn’t put it down. Didn’t cringe once. Loved it. A great beach read that actually doesn’t feel like a giant waste of time.

22 people found this helpful

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Exceptional, Intense Drama

Please stick with it through the slow beginning. I almost gave up, but am so glad I continued. This was an edge of your seat, don't want to stop listening, emotional ride. I loved it!

21 people found this helpful

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Outstanding novel

Could not put this down and finish it in two days. Great story. Without a doubt I was thinking to much of who commit the murder. But the end shock me.

24 people found this helpful

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The 2019 Summer Thriller I’ve Been Searching For

Family secrets, dynamics, and expectations collide in this psychological/legal thriller. If you like Scott Turow and Stieg Larrson this is the book for you.

14 people found this helpful

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Wow

Someone said it's confusing. Ridiculous. Books these days go back and forth developing character giving you a back story. It's a great way to write mattress it interesting moreso than straight linear writing. I never understand why anyone would be confused unless they aren't really listening, or....?
Pay no attention to those reviews the writing is spectacular and the narration is like great acting.
It's very slickly produced and entertaining.
Highly recommended.

21 people found this helpful

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TEDIOUS!!!

This story drones on and on for twelve and a half hours. The characters are unlikeable, one-dimensional, and unhappy. There are no real surprises here and although the book is 12 1/2 hours long. it feels like twice that amount of time. I listened to this audiobook through a couple of international flights, and it really helped me get some sleep on the planes.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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I'm glad I stayed with it.

There were several factors to this story that I wasn't expecting, and although it didn't grab my attention right away, I'm glad I stayed with it.
It was a good listen . I did ,however, have to speed up the book for the first narrator , and then put it back to a normal speed for the next two.

4 people found this helpful