I have been in a bit of a reading slump lately…. I’m reading, but I’ve been reading really slowly. Thankfully, I have managed to finish a few books to be able to review, to keep #BookReviewFriday going. Pan Macmillan sent over some books for me to read a few weeks back and A Nearly Normal Family really grabbed me immediately. I’m not going to chat too long today, instead, we’ll head straight into the review!
What is A Nearly Normal Family about?
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?
The synopsis for A Nearly Normal Family really intrigued me, and I was really keen to get started. We meet this family and the daughter is accused of a crime…murder! On top of that, the father is a pastor and the mother is a lawyer. If there’s a kid that shouldn’t (in theory) be in this mess, it would be Stella. lol. The book is told in 3 parts:
Part 1 – Told from the dad’s POV, Adam
Part 2 – Told from the daughter’s POV, Stella
Part 3 – Told from the mom’s POV, Ulrika
Honestly, reading the first portion of this book, from Adam’s point of view was so drawn out. It was so slow and I honestly struggled. I put the book down, started again, put it down…until I eventually decided to push through. I just think that Adam actually has so little to do with the actual story, that his point of view is irrelevant by the end of the book. Also, because the book is translated into English, I think Adam’s dialect was a bit slower or perhaps even lost in translation. There was a lot of repetition and I just didn’t enjoy the language in essence.
However, he speaks a lot about Stella as a child and gives us some insight into her character and childhood. He is also really hell bent on clearing her name. As any father would be. I loved that about his character, in that he really would sacrifice himself, to save Stella if that’s possible.
All hope is not lost….once I got to Stella’s POV, the book started getting a bit more interesting. You could see the other side of all the situations her father brings up in his portion of the book. We delve into her relationships….with friends, her parents, and who she truly is. Also, I felt like the translation was a bit better and more ‘modern’ in Stella’s section.
I didn’t really understand why the mother was getting a section in the book, so I went into the 3rd part feeling very confused. My thought was that either the victim or Stella’s friend would get a section, as they are mentioned a lot in the book. I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck was going to happen. This part of the story had a lot of back and forth from past to present, that builds up to the ending, that I really didn’t see coming. Also, there was a reason the mom got a section, so trust the process Simone!
The book really explores how well we know our kids and what they’re capable of. If anything, I’m not sure this was a nearly normal family at all! Also, how far would you go to protect your child if you thought they were capable of murder? This was a really good story, unique plot and nice plot twist at the end. However, it was a very slow burn and I didn’t love the translation of the book…..though I’m not sure if it’s fair for me to have that critique.
A Nearly Normal Family has an average of 3.9 stars on Goodreads. If I take my translation critique and put it aside, I’d give the book 3/5 stars. This legal thriller retails for around R249 and is available at all leading book retailers. What do you think….will you be picking it up?
Thank you Pan Macmillan SA for sending this over! As always, all reviews are voluntary and my own opinions.