A Nearly Normal Family by M T Edvardsson and Rachel Wilson-Boyles (translator)
|A Nearly Normal Family by M T Edvardsson and Rachel Wilson-Boyles (translator)|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Brilliant plotting, characters you'll feel that you know and a twist at the end which will have you reeling. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 480/12h31m||Date: July 2019|
We're going to hear this story through the viewpoints of three different people: Adam Sandell, his wife, Ulrika and his daughter Stella. Adam's a pastor in the Church of Sweden and Ulrika is a lawyer. Stella is, well, just difficult. You sense that she's always been difficult and there have even been occasions when Ulrika has let slip that she wishes that Stella was more like her best friend, Amina Bešic - and no one has ever said that if they don't think that the other person is better. We first meet the family on Stella's 18th birthday and we get a sense of Adam's controlling nature. Permission has to be given for a glass of wine for Stella at the celebration meal.
When I heard about Stella from her father I didn't like her. I sensed too that whilst Adam might love his daughter, he didn't like her either. Sometimes she's difficult for the sake of being difficult and there were signs from the age of eight that she could be violent. She's said to have poor impulse control and sometimes she appears to have none at all. The combination of a father who is a control freak (coercive and controlling, we'd say these days) and a daughter with no impulse control could only lead to problems. It came to a head on Stella's birthday.
Her plan had been that she was going to Asia. She was working at H&M and saving for this. She'd been hoping that for her 18th birthday her parents would give her money: instead they bought her a pink Vespa, which she didn't want. Rather than take it home Stella went off to see her friends and didn't get in until the early hours of the following morning. Adam discovered that she'd put some blood-stained clothes into the washer and the next day the news broke that the body of Christopher Olsen had been found in a school playground. Stella was arrested.
The story is taken up by Stella herself and an entirely different girl emerges: she's sparky, intelligent and loyal to her friend Amina. Stella's insightful: she realises that the sides of her personality which bother her father are those which she inherited from him. She made me laugh too - I've discovered that I'm neurotic! Her description was so close that I wondered if she'd been through my handbag. I liked Stella and I desperately wanted her to come through this although I couldn't see how. It's when Ulrika takes up the story that we see how it works out and there's a twist there which blew me away.
I loved this book and devoured it hungrily: short chapters intensify the 'just one more before I go to sleep' problem and I finished the book in two days, desperate to find out what happened. At no point was I disappointed and it's a book I'll be persuading all my friends to read. I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.
For more crime from a small Swedish town, try Dark Pines by Will Dean. Henning Mankell is well known for his crime novels based around Ystad. Missing by Karin Alvtegen moves to Stockholm, but is a satisfying read. Asa Larsson's books move us to the far north of the country.
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You can read more book reviews or buy A Nearly Normal Family by M T Edvardsson and Rachel Wilson-Boyles (translator) at Amazon.com.
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