A Nearly Normal Life

Author: M.T. Edvardsson

Published: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books 

Where I picked up my book:  Publisher (#partner) THANK YOU!

Key Words: legal thriller, family dynamics, fast-paced read

My Rating: 3.5

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My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book and it kept me on the edge of my seat for the majority of my reading. Granted, I don’t read a lot of thrillers, so they usually do this to me…but the way this one was set up (split into 3 sections/perspectives-Father, Daughter, Mother) really kept me enthralled. It would be a perfect summer read, beach read, airplane read, or in my case, an up all night, go to the gym just to read, sort of read 🙂

First, it’s a family drama and I really love those. Family dynamics are always interesting to me, but add in a murder and how parents would cope with that, I’m all in! I kept thinking about how my family would cope with something like this and it totally brought a whole different perspective to the book. I was completely wrapped up in thinking about the family dynamics, not only in this plot, but in my own family life as well.

Second, the multiple perspective approach where the novel is broken up into 3 sections and each section tells a different perspective from each family member is fantastic. There are always multiple perspectives to a story and we don’t always get to hear about how others feel, or we are told how others feel from the bias of the narrator. In this story, we are given a first hand look at how each family member deals with the murder as well as it’s aftermath. We see their individual strengths, weaknesses, secrets and truths and it was like reading about a study in human behavior. I was hooked!

Third, it reminded me a bit of Miracle Creek and I really enjoyed that book. With that said, it made me think about what lengths I would go to in order to protect my child or a member of my family. I don’t know if I have an easy answer for that, but this book is sure to make you think about it.

I do have two small things that I didn’t necessarily love about the book that I think are worth mentioning. One, the father (his perspective is the first section) is a pastor and anything religious, even a slight mention of religion, is usually a trigger warning/turn off for me. I found myself feeling kinda weird about his character and the religious talk. There is a lot more to him than just his religion and job, but it was definitely there and a focus of his perspective and wasn’t my favorite. BUT, it does lead to some good questions-do religious leaders hold a moral compass? Should we take religious leaders at face value? ect. so that was something to think about. Second, I kind of guessed the ending-but again, that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book at all, and I’ve read reviews where that was not the case for many people, but just something to keep that in mind!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t necessarily blown away, but I was completely sucked in throughout the entire reading and personally, that is the purpose of a thriller! I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys a great, face-paced thriller full of family drama, moral and ethical thinking and decision making in the plot and is told from multiple perspectives. I’ll be thinking about this family for a while.

Summary (via Goodreads):

M.T. Edvardsson’s A Nearly Normal Family is a gripping legal thriller that forces the reader 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 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?

bookishfolk…read instead.

Baby Teeth Book Review

Author: Zoje Stage

Published: July 17, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Where I picked up my book: Local Bookstore

Key Words: creepy, psychological thriller, dysfunctional family

My Rating: 4 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

My Thoughts:

Oh man…this was one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. There is something about sadistic, dysfunctional kids that I can barely handle. That was 100% the case for this one. It was like a train wreck where I didn’t want to look, but couldn’t help but continue looking (slash reading). It was completely disturbing, but I just had find out what the hell was going to happen. Are you picking up what I”m putting down here? It was THAT creepy.

Zoje Stage is a genius to be able to write from both Hanna’s perspective and Suzette’s perspective with what seems like ease. She had me 100% invested in the story, these characters and their story line. And this was a debut novel-ohhhh, I can’t wait to see what else Stage has in store for us.

Can I get personal for a minute here? In my life, especially as of late, I am used to feeling like a lesser than for choosing not to have children. Granted, it’s an expensive and quite the process for my wife and I to create a child, but still…I have this constant, low-level of stress and anxiety about our choice and feel the weirdness in people when they find out I am about to be 40 and do not have any children. Welp…this book might have cured that problem and it only cost me the price of a book in lieu of expensive therapy sessions that I had been thinking about acquiring. All kidding aside, this was the first book where I thought to myself, “Solid choice Melissa. You’re going to be just fine without children.” So there’s that too 🙂

If you like psychological thrillers, pick this one up immediately. It’s creepy, strange, weird, terrifying and had me looking at all children around me with a stink-eye. I obsessively read this one and can’t wait to see what else Stage has for us with her next book!

bookishfolk…read instead.