The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

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At a glance, The Best Kind of People offers a fascinating long-view of how rape and patriarchy are indivisible from the larger culture, in both the U.S. and beyond. What Whittall painfully exposes is our shared inadequacy...
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Synopsis

A local schoolteacher is arrested, leaving his family to wrestle with the possibility of his guilt, in this exquisite novel about loyalty, truth, and happiness.

The Woodburys cherish life in the affluent, bucolic suburb of Avalon Hills, Connecticut. George is a beloved science teacher at the local prep school, a hero who once thwarted a gunman, and his wife, Joan, is a hardworking ER nurse. They have brought up their children in this thriving town of wooded yards and sprawling lakes.

Then one night a police car pulls up to the Woodbury home and George is charged with sexual misconduct with students from his daughter’s school. As he sits in prison awaiting trial and claiming innocence, Joan vaults between denial and rage as friends and neighbors turn cold. Their daughter, seventeen-year-old Sadie, is a popular high school senior who becomes a social outcast—and finds refuge in an unexpected place. Her brother, Andrew, a lawyer in New York, returns home to support the family, only to confront unhappy memories from his past. A writer tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist group attempts to recruit Sadie for their cause.

Provocative and unforgettable, The Best Kind of People reveals the cracks along the seams of even the most perfect lives and the unraveling of an American family.

Finalist for the Giller Prize

“[Zoe] Whittall’s intuitive understanding of human nature makes The Best Kind of People a gripping novel, one that shines a light on family dynamics under extreme pressure.”—The Vancouver Sun

“Whittall’s undisputed talent as a writer shines, as does her understanding into the complexity of our sympathies, our morality, and our humanity. With incredible empathy and undeniable skill this book is sure to spark much-needed dialogue, vital debate, and richly deserved acclaim.”—Stacey May Fowles, author of Infidelity

The Best Kind of People examines the effects of rape culture on an entire community with rare nuance and insight. Every character is fully rounded, flawed, and achingly human. It puts me in mind of a twenty-first-century Ordinary People.”—Kate Harding, author of Asking for It

“A timely discussion of what we owe those who abuse and those who are targeted in our communities.”—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman

“This may just be Whittall’s breakout novel, and deservedly so.”—The Winnipeg Review

“Taut, compassionate and clever.”—Toronto Star
 

About Zoe Whittall

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Zoe Whittall is the author of The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (2001), The Emily Valentine Poems (2006), and Precordial Thump (2008), and the editor of Geeks, Misfits, & Outlaws (2003). Her debut novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (2007) made the Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of the Year and CBC Canada Reads' Top Ten Essential Novels of the Decade. Her second novel Holding Still for as Long as Possible (2009) won a Lambda Literary Award and was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. Her writing has appeared in the Walrus, the Believer, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, Fashion, and more. She has also worked as a writer and story editor on the TV shows Degrassi and Schitt's Creek. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, she has an MFA from the University of Guelph and lives in Toronto.
 
Published September 19, 2017 by Ballantine Books. 449 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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National Post arts

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Reviewed by Naomi Skwarna on Aug 31 2016

At a glance, The Best Kind of People offers a fascinating long-view of how rape and patriarchy are indivisible from the larger culture, in both the U.S. and beyond. What Whittall painfully exposes is our shared inadequacy...

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