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A Nearly Normal Family Review

A Nearly Normal Family… This is such an ironic name for this book, as this family is nowhere near normal.


Rating: 5/5

When the teenage daughter of responsible, upstanding parents is accused of murder, a family realizes that it isn't love that will keep them together: it's lies.


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 a respectable local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?


Told in an unusual three-part structure, this gripping, domestic drama pushes a family to its limits. The father, a pastor, believes his daughter can only be innocent, despite mounting evidence. The mother, a defense attorney, believes no one is telling the truth. And the daughter, desperate for her dreams of the future, believes no one understands how far she is willing to go.


In this complex, multi-layered novel, every character's loyalty and morality is tested. Are we duty-bound to defend our family, even with the evidence against them? Is anyone who they seem on the surface? And what are we willing to compromise to keep our lives, as we know them, intact?

Content Warning: Rape


Where do I even start with this one…


I initially picked this as my BOTM pick back in June 2019. It had been sitting there waiting patiently for me since to pick it up. It wasn’t until, my great friend, Heather @heathersbookreview had her birthday that I thought of this book again. I wanted to send her a gift and on her Amazon wishlist, I saw A Nearly Normal Family. So I sent her this book and suggested we could do another buddy read together! We’ve done several already together, she’s one of my favorite people to do a buddy read with! It’s always so much fun to discuss books with her.


And honestly, I’m actually really glad I put this book off and ended up buddy reading it with her. We both ended up pointing out details that the other had missed. Bouncing theories off each other, considering who could have done it and other possible twists. It was a great discussion! It made this already amazing book, even better.


A Nearly Normal Family… This is such an ironic name for this book, as this family is nowhere near normal. They want to appear normal, but they’re far from it. This book is broken up into three parts as we see the daughter of the family accused of the murder of an older man. We see the events leading up to the murder and the trial through a jumbled timeline told by different family members. We start with the father who is also a pastor. Then, it’s the daughter’s turn and where we learn a majority of the details on what the heck is going on. While also seeing conflicting information as we go through her perspective compared to what we had initially learned following her father. Lastly, we see the mother’s perspective mostly through the trial portion of the timeline with small glimpses of the previous events in that same jumbled timeline just with new information.


A Nearly Normal Family… This is such an ironic name for this book, as this family is nowhere near normal.

With this unorthodox storyline, it was so easy to be thrown off as new details came to light. I felt as if I was constantly coming up with a new theory of what happened every few pages. I really tried to figure out who had done it and what actually happened. There were even times where I simply had no idea what to think. Especially once we reached the daughter’s perspective. It made me question who was more reliable as a narrator because honestly, I didn’t trust her or her dad. And I’m sure we didn’t get the whole truth either, even by the end.


It was so easy to be thrown off as new details came to light. I felt as if I was constantly coming up with a new theory of what happened every few pages.

This jumbled timeline may appear like it was hard to follow what was going on. There were no dates at the beginning of the chapters. And often, it was hard to pinpoint exactly where we were in the timeline at times. But, that made this book just that more thrilling to read. That sense of not fully understanding and having to put all the puzzle pieces together. This book was just one giant puzzle.


This book was just one giant puzzle.

It helped that this book is filled with such short chapters, usually just a few pages long. It made it easy to plow right through this. I often got lost within these pages as I was learning about this family. I didn’t want to stop reading. And I honestly thought the whole setup of the book was simply perfect! I don’t think this would have been nearly as dramatic if we had seen a different setup or the sections were ordered differently.


This reminded me of one of my very first thrillers, Watching You. I wouldn’t say Watching You was the book that got me hooked on to thrillers, but it was one of my first ones. So I tend to always compare other thrillers to this one. I found A Nearly Normal Family to have that similar vibe as Watching You, with the number of moving parts and the details that just kept coming to keep you guessing. These are the best type of thrillers in my opinion. It just creates an amazing read. And A Nearly Normal Family is easily one of these thrillers, hands down!


I can’t say I was shocked by the ending before the epilogue. Especially with the events that led up to it. That was the only aspect of this book I found predictable. Everything else though, I found completely shocking. It’s filled with so many twists and turns. I definitely loved the epilogue! That was a spectacular way to end a book!


It’s filled with so many twists and turns. I definitely loved the epilogue!

I think if you’re a fan of thrillers, specifically whodunit thrillers, then I highly recommend picking this one up! It’ll keep you on your toes!