This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
25.04.19 / Orenda Books / Contemporary-Drama / Audiobook / 8hrs 27m / 978-1912374458 (Paperback)
Target Audience: Readers who can appreciate a big messy Scandinavian family drama with strong psychological and sociological themes. Lots of emotion, frustration and confusion mixed with fond memories, battling with change and reconnecting relationships with a new perspective on life.
About A Modern Family
When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce. Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history. A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…
My Review Of A Modern Family
I listened to A Modern Family on audio book and I wanted to say that Nina did a top-notch job with the narrative and voicing the characters. Also the translation was a great effort too so thank you to Rosie as well.
Helga Flatland’s A Modern Family gripped me with its impressive emotional nuances, its pragmatic Scandinavian outlook and its relatable perspectives on family affairs, relationships and society as a whole. I was taken aback by how well HF guided both the siblings and the reader through the many reverberating effects of divorce. A choice that has both simultaneously personal and family consequences. A decision that may allow freedom to the individual but may make those around them question their own life choices. An opportunity for everyone to look around at those they spend their lives with and contemplate where their own relationships are going and what it all means. Helga Flatland captured this essence perfectly and the emotional, intellectual and existential thoughts and implications that come with it. Not only this but HF goes further by addressing grief, failure, infidelity and so much more. A Modern Family encapsulates those overly familiar feelings of turmoil, regression and connection that we often find comes out of nowhere but that we should have seen coming a long way off.
The narrative follows siblings Liv, Ellen, Håkon. During a family holiday to Italy in which they are all celebrating their fathers 70th birthday, it is announced that their parents are getting a divorce. This revelation sends ripples, both huge and subtle, through the family and the lives they lead. The events following this unexpected news are told from each sibling in turn. No one truly believing it could be possible but some more surprised than others. Documenting their feelings of despair, hopelessness, frustration, objection and denial. Reflecting on their own opinions and the newly defined relationships between their parents, their siblings and their own families.
Each person going through the motions, searching for answers, looking back on how much their parents influenced them as people and the way they look at the world. Punctuated by drama, anger, grief and disappointment. Boosted by memories of love, remembering the happy moments and all the great qualities their parents have instilled in them. HF has crafted a superb narrative that lets the reader sit amongst this family and be with them and walk in their shoes. Allowing the reader to decide for themselves whether the siblings are overreacting or if they are genuinely in a position to protest against their parents separation.
The psychological insights into how each individual child (even in adulthood) reacts to the end of their parents marriage were by far the most compelling aspect of A Modern Family. I really appreciated HF’s tone and atmosphere of each story arc. Liv, the eldest, who is a her heart-on-the-sleeve type of person, who guided her life on based on her parents supposedly unbreakable bond. Ellen, the middle child, who feels detached from events, scared to lose her independence. Håkon, the youngest, who seemingly saw this eventuality but is none the less stunned by it, believing that love shouldn’t be defined by the societal limitations that currently exist. I was reeling for these people and their situations. Their craving for normality in a sea of uncertainty. The foundations of their beliefs beginning to crack underneath them.
I have to say that I felt for Ellen the most. The fact that Ellen feels the need to hide most of her feelings and turmoil was a big deal for me as I had a similar situation when my own parents divorced yet continued to co-exist for the children. Plus (and I know this comparison is so far from even) my wife struggled to conceive for years which was difficult for her psychologically and it was difficult to see her in such a way. That is the biggest success of A Modern Family, it is entirely relatable and it makes you consider your own relationships with family and friends. Moments in life that take your breath away both good and bad. There are so many situations, circumstances and points of view that allow you to regress, feel nostalgic and face up to problems you may not have been totally aware of in your own life.
The Scandinavian’s have a reputation for being stoic and practical people who see the world as it is. I loved being amongst this but also seeing HF walk that line between a brave face and the cracking resolve beneath. Capturing the emotion under the rational thought. The drama HF explored can be translated to any country as family is universal. I can’t recommend A Modern Family enough to readers who are experiencing or have experienced life altering family issues as it can really change your view on what was said and more importantly what wasn’t. A Modern Family isn’t usually the sort of book I pick up but I am very glad I did. If you are looking for something new then Helga Flatland’s work is a fantastic place to start.
About Helga Flatland
Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.