25 April 2022

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

I added this to my list off the Indigo "new" page a few years back thinking it sounded good and wanting to read some newer fiction. The irony is that I waited years to read it but hey. This is a crime thriller, which is not a genre I read very often but I don't know why because I always love them. I also think Scandinavian authors are superior at this genre (The Killing is such a good show based off a Danish crime series), and M. T. Edvardsson is no exception. 

The story is about a family whose teenage daughter is accused of murder. It's told in a three part structure, the first third being the dad's perspective, the second being the mom's, and the third the daughter's. I really loved this structure, sort of like The Affair if you've seen that, and it was very effective for character development and suspense building. It was also a great way to demonstrate perspective, One family can have mostly shared experiences but interpret them all so differently.

M. T. Edvardsson

For almost ten years, Ulrika and I tried to give Stella a sibling. At times, our whole lives revolved around this missing part, taking up all the energy we could spare. We went to war, both of us armed with the worst kind of determination to win. We told ourselves that little plus sign on a pregnancy test was the solution to everything. We couldn't see what was happening to us, how we were digging ourselves into a pit of guilt, shame, and inadequacy. The last couple years, we were so into our battle against nature and each other that we probably forgot what we were fighting for. I've read about soldiers in the trenches in WW1 who eventually forgot who they were at war with and started shooting at their countrymen."

The father in this family is a pastor, and the mother is a lawyer, and as pillars in their community the legal drama has wide implications for the family but it was mostly just so sad to read from the perspective of parents who can't help or protect their only child. Stella, the daughter, mostly seems like a brat, so I liked her perspective the least, but the 360 view in the end proved necessary for the ending to punch the way it did.

I was full of conflicting emotions. As a lawyer, I was guilty of the most horrific violation of the law one could imagine. As a mother, my choice was the only correct one."

This book pretty much checks all the boxes for a crime thriller. There's a shocking twist at the end, anxiety-inducing suspense, and a lot of lawyers and legal talk (which I love). But what I liked most is that it had a deeper edge to it. It's such a great look into the complex emotions of being a parent. Edvardsson picks apart the way we raise our kids, the way we picture our families versus their lived realities, and how the decisions we make for ourselves ripple and affect our loved ones. 

I had four lovely autumn months of paternity leave with Stella, and I watched her personality emerge day by day. The other parents at our congregation's children's group often remarked that she was the very definition of a daddy's girl. I don't think I understood the significance of this until it was too late. To some extent, my whole life has been one big esprit d'escalier. I haven't managed to capture a single moment. I've always had terrible timing. I am doomed to yearn." 

Sexual assault becomes a topic woven into the story so heads up if that's not something you prefer to read about, but otherwise I can't see anyone not enjoying this. It reads quickly because you need to see what happens! 

I would definitely read more of Edvardsson's novels but so far this is the only one that's been translated into English. When I added it to my list I had the suspicion is was prime for an adaptation but so far I've been wrong about that. 

Kids are a full-time job. When they're babies you're waiting for them to become independent, and you spend all your time worrying that they'll choke on something or fall on their face. Then comes preschool and you worry because they're out of your sight, because they might fall off a swing set or fail their next checkup. Then they start school and you worry that they won't fit in, won't make any friends, and everything is homework and riding lessons, handball and pajama parties. They start school and there are even more friends, parties and conflicts, talks with tutors, all the chauffeuring around. You worry about drugs and drinking, that they'll end up in bad company, and the teenage years go by like a soap opera at 190 kilometers per hour. Then suddenly you're standing there with an adult child and you think you'll finally get to stop worrying."

No comments:

Post a Comment