Saturday, August 26, 2017

THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE BY ZOE WHITTALL - BOOK REVIEW

This book might just be one of the best-written books I have read in a very long time. The story itself is intricately woven and each character is masterfully developed. This was my first by Whittall, but it most certainly will not be my last.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall.


The story follows the Woodbury family, parents George, a private school teacher previously best known for his heroism after stopping a school shooting years before, and Joan, a hard working head trauma nurse who is extremely level-headed and fiercely loyal, and their two children, Andrew, a thirty-something attorney who lives in NYC with his partner, Jared, and Sadie, their seventeen-year-old Harvard-bound daughter who was a welcome surprise. On the outside, they all look picture perfect - coming from old money, living in a house that was paid off generations ago and working hard to get where they are in life. But when George is arrested for sexual assault, their life falls apart. No one knows what to believe, each character wrestling with their own life issues while coming to terms with what George says he didn't do.

Firstly, let's start with the major issue of this book, the accusations of sexual assault. In books like this, it is very easy for the author to pick a side and right from that one point of view. Often times, however, this will ostracize one-half of the audience. Whittall cleverly avoids this by providing an in depth look at both sides of the story and examining the social reactions to both. There are characters in this book who think that the group of girls who stepped forward are brave, and there are characters that think they regret a decision they made and are lying to cover it up. And I think that is what makes this book so raw and heartbreaking, seeing the rationale behind both opinions.

I think that Whittall did a phenomenal job exploring the differences between right and wrong and the nuances and grey areas in between with each of the main characters. George's daughter, Sadie, wrestles with the idea that the man she grew up idolizing could do such things as people are saying, but then she finds it difficult that the girls are lying. As a woman herself, she knows that it can't be about attention, that there must be some validity to what the girls are saying but she doesn't want to believe the man that saved her from that gunman years ago could be capable of something like this.

Joan struggles with loving her husband and finding out that he may not be the man she thought he was. She rationales her denial, suggesting that he may have done it, but maybe he has a mental illness or something else entirely happened. Andrew is reliving his own teen years when he was only 17 and in a relationship with his then 25-year-old coach. The situation was different for him, but his father's case brings him back to those memories and the homophobic town he left all those years ago and forces him to confront his past.

This was one of those books where you don't want to see the horrible things that happen but you can't stop reading. It was completely engrossing and twisted. The book focuses on extremely current topics and the consequences (and often lackthereof) for certain people and certain crimes. Whittall shows there is no right and wrong, but a murky mix of the two with different points of view. This book also takes a look at the family of (possible) offenders and accused individuals, how their lives shift dramatically and how you can or cannot come back from it.

Overall, I have found a new favourite book and cannot recommend this one enough!