... involving, sharply written ... Stella transforms the novel’s events, and then her mother, herself a lawyer, gives this surprise-filled saga its final turn. Mr. Edvardsson, whose Swedish is translated here by Rachel Willson-Broyles, is a fine stylist. A Nearly Normal Family, the author’s first book to be published in this country, is a compulsively readable tour de force.
... outstanding ... Tackling moral dilemmas through different narrators, Edvardsson is able to provide three sides to the story, each from a convincing voice. With multiple narrators, sometimes one is more enthralling than another, but all three here are equally arresting. After writing as a straight-and-narrow pastor, Edvardsson transitions seamlessly to the voice of a rebellious teenage girl--in jail, no less--and then to that of a cunning lawyer. Amazingly, in one narrator's version of the story, the other characters might seem insensitive, unreasonable or even straight-up wrong, but then the viewpoint shifts and the narrator who takes over sounds completely rational, with valid justification for his or her behavior. No one is 100% wrong or right, and the exploration of the gray area between righteousness and immorality makes Family realistic, even when the action becomes incredibly dramatic ... the author raises provocative questions, wraps them up in a propulsive thriller and delivers an ultra-satisfying read that's far from ordinary.
... wholly original and compelling ... the kind of genuinely compelling story you will find yourself thinking about days after you’ve turned the final page. Readers who love a slow-burning, intricate crime story with a healthy dose of domestic drama will find A Nearly Normal Family perfectly suited to their tastes; if you prefer a gritty, fast-paced thriller, on the other hand, you might find this story a bit slow for your preferences. With his US debut, M.T. Edvardsson has established himself as an author to watch.
Much of Ulrika’s narrative is spent in the courtroom during Stella’s murder trial, which may lead some readers to feel like she got short shrift ... The murder mystery falls a bit flat and the resolution is overly neat, but Edvardsson ably weaves themes of parental guilt and sacrifice into a nuanced family drama ... Not terribly suspenseful, but as a dissection of a family in crisis, it works.
Edvardsson uses first-person narratives from Adam, Stella, and Ulrika to tell the story of the family, the crime, and the trial. This structure adds complexity and ambiguity, but the three different versions of the events result in too much repetition, dampening the suspense and weakening the denouement. This novel works better as a domestic drama than as a mystery.