Friday, October 7, 2016

REVIEW: The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

Title: The Best Kind of People
Author: Zoe Whittall
Genre: Contemporary/Controversial
Publisher: Anansi Press
Release Date: August 27/2016
Acquired: Print copy requested
Goodreads: ADD

Recently Shortlisted for the Giller Prize!

What if someone you trusted was accused of the unthinkable?

George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.


The relevancy of this book is IMMENSE, for right now, for every single year that has already past, and, without a doubt for the years that are to come. The Best Kind of People was a delve into rape culture that was a lot more character based than what I've experienced thus far, but no less resounding for it. It was an exaggerated depiction of the perfect family, the perfect home, and the crippling effects of what an imperfect revelation had on them.

The initial few paragraphs read like a page straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, so it was alike stepping on a landmine in the middle of paradise when the scene suddenly takes a turn for the possibly criminal. Whittall did small town wealth so flawlessly, and with such an emphasis on the perks that come with having everything just "go your way," that when the scandal bomb DID explode, it wasn't just the Woodbury family left wandering aimlessly, I felt that confusion and betrayal in my OWN gut. How could this be happening? This particular thing, the most horrible thing that could possibly be happening, to a family who built a life that resembled the complete OPPOSITE of what this thing created: disloyalty, humiliation, social shunning, loss of reputation, loss of sanity. You're left wondering if there's anyone in your life you can actually trust--how well do you know the person you've spent years loving the most?

I lost track of how many times I changed my mind about George Woodbury's guilt, but it was obvious that Whittall wanted it that way. The Best Kind of People wasn't a crime novel, or a mystery novel, or anything that would have one building pieces to form a clear reveal. It was the method of the madness, that madness being a loss of self, of everything you once held true turned inside out and unrecognizable. It was about a daughter's once fierce trust in a father who held all of life's answers, her pillar of unshakable strength. It was about a son's determination to keep that same image of his father alive by using the law's allowances. And finally, it was about a wife, who could will her mind to believe in her partner's incapability of heinous acts, but what to do about her heart's suspicions? Whittall's writing was confident and so specifically crafted for her desire effect, which was not to keep you guessing, but to keep you feeling. Feeling for the Woodbury family members who were not in jail, the ones who WERE left to keep guessing about their father, and husband's, innocence.

The very last sentence of this novel infuriated me beyond comprehension, but sadly, it mirrors the outcome of so many real life situations with this subject matter.  

The Best Kind of People is a massively important book. It's aim was not to focus on a grand revelation, or drive home the rights you have as a human being, but instead it offered a rare look inside the mental and emotional states of the people who usually suffer silently: the family members of a suspected offender. I urge you to this book keep you in it's heart-gripping vise.

Recommended for Fans of: Contemporary, Controversial Issues, Jodi Picoult.



CLICK HERE to read more about Zoe on her website's Bio page!



A huge thank-you to Anansi Press for providing a print copy of this book for review!

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