Book Review: A Modern Family

A MODERN FAMILY | Helga Flatland
06.13.2019 | Orenda Books
Rating: 4/5 stars


Liv, Ellen, and Hakon are setting off, along with their families, partners, and parents, on a holiday in Rome they soon won’t forget. The trip is to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, but nothing goes as planned. From the start things don’t feel right and it seems as if their parents are hiding a secret. With tensions at an unbearable high the truth of a looming divorce finally comes to light.

The siblings are shocked by the news. These are the parents everyone wishes they had. The couple that have been together for decades. Now forced to look back on recent years and their childhoods, the siblings begin to realize that maybe everything wasn’t always as idillyic as they assumed. How could the people they know best be hiding such a huge secret?


Helga Flatland invites readers to be a fly on the wall in A MODERN FAMILY. Not only is this the story of a family in the throes of turmoil, but it is also an in depth examination into sibling relationships. Flatland presents the reader with two sections told from Liv that alternate with two sections told my Ellen. She then ends the book with Hakon’s narrative. In each of these sections the reader is able to see the family’s struggles unfold from one viewpoint. These instances are then seen from the other sibling’s eyes when we get to their sections. I loved how Flatland structured the story to be told predominately between Liv and Ellen. Seeing the family from Hakon’s eyes at the end was the perfect way to end the story!

While Flatland has at the heart of this book a divorce that rocks a family, it is also a chance to learn what makes everyone in this family tick. We meet Liv’s family and examine her relationship as a mother and wife. We meet Ellen and her struggles to form what she believes is the perfect life. Lastly, we meet Hakon who has struggled to define his true beliefs and form a way to stand out in his family. In each of these narratives we learn about the characters, how they view their family, and how they view their role within the family structure. It was fascinating to learn how each person saw themselves differently than they were actually perceived by the family as a whole.


As someone who comes from a family where they are an only child I didn’t feel unable to connect with the sibling dynamics presented. I actually found myself reflecting on similar scenarios or interactions with my cousins or my husband’s family. The best part about reading about family dynamics is that everyone’s family is different, so you don’t need to come from the same mold in order to bond with a story like this one!

I loved having a front row seat into the day to day of this family. I felt like I was right there with each of them through whatever was going on. For a writer to truly immerse a reader that way, they deserve endless praise! Also, on the praise-front should be Rosie Hedger for her translation of this work. Absolutely nothing about this book made me feel like I was reading a translation. It was seamless!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Orenda Books for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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