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.
GILLER PRIZE FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK POST
“A compelling exploration of the ways a crime implicates all of us.”—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman
“I am obsessed with this book.”—Samantha Irby, author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
“In our post–Harvey Weinstein world [this book] feels more timely and urgent than ever. . . . It draws an elegant line between rape culture, patriarchy, and privilege.”—Claire Cameron, The Millions
“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
“Sure to provoke debate and send book discussion groups into overtime.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“A powerful page-turner.”—Cosmopolitan
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
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Read an Excerpt
The First Week
Sadie turned seventeen years old on top of her boyfriend, Jimmy, in the Woodbury family boathouse. It was a white wooden structure with turquoise trim, both colors frayed and chipped around the edges, on the shore of Woodbury Lake in rural Connecticut. Jimmy had a small tattoo of her name in an Old English gangster--style font cupping his right pectoral muscle, a secret hovering underneath his crisp school uniform shirt and blazer. She had gripped his sweaty hand in the tattoo shop in Boston when they’d stolen away for an hour on class trip day. He’d peeled back the bloody gauze on the bus afterwards, kids crowding around in quiet awe. A lot of students in their class had tattoos—-including a girl whose entire back was covered in a passage from a Father John Misty song—-but no one had proclaimed his devotion to a girlfriend so permanently before. Sadie thought that she’d get his initials tattooed sometime, maybe inside a tiny illustrated heart. “I can’t handle the pain,” she’d say, but it was the permanence that felt dizzying.
His watch beeped midnight as she pressed his wrists to the tarp that separated their bodies from the splintery floorboards. Her long brown hair formed a tent around his face, which smelled of sixty--proof sunscreen, an organic brand redolent of almonds. Sometimes she rubbed it on her hands to smell during the day when he wasn’t around. She made a birthday wish for continued academic success while pressing both thumbs to his radial arteries. She knew that if he had a wish, it would be to stay with Sadie forever, to suspend time so that there would be only her and him. She was a Virgo, and therefore infinitely more practical.
She curled her toes, pulled away, her lips bruised and pillowed from kissing.
“Wanna?” He wrestled his arms away from her grasp and cupped both hands around her ass and squeezed, pulling her even closer.
“Swim first,” she said, sitting up but still straddling him. “The lake is so still right now, it’s the best time.”
Outside, the September air aped mid--July heat.
Jimmy pulled her in for a pre--swim kiss and sang “Happy Birthday” into her mouth. They could hear the slight waves under the boathouse, occasionally a dog barking across the lake. Sex was a relatively new thing. An amazing thing. The primary reason for hanging out in the otherwise damp and spider--filled world of the Woodbury family boathouse.
A raccoon they’d nicknamed Conan O’Brien wobbled across the roof and pushed his face against the screened--in skylight, pawing at a rip in the seam. He had a distinct patch of reddish fur above his eyes. Sadie turned towards the noise to lie beside her boyfriend, pinning her shoulder blades to the floor. The boathouse ceiling peaked in an A--frame and was jammed with Woodbury family detritus going back to the 1970s. Between the rafters: yellowed life jackets, canoe paddles, a rusty--handled tricycle, deflated water toys, and decaying file boxes labelled with words like 1997 Taxes.
“He wants to celebrate your birthday,” Jimmy said.
“He just loves an audience.”
They’d been back at school for one week. Their senior year in high school at Avalon prep had begun with aplomb. They were both in the accelerated stream, their sights set on prestigious universities, afternoons filled with student government meetings, sporting events, community volunteer hours, making out between the rows of woody ancient texts in the school library. The week had been busy and thus ordinary. This was the last weekend that anything would feel normal until they were halfway through college.
Conan sat by the ancient weather vane atop the boathouse, watching as the couple peeled off their simple tanks and cutoff shorts. They ran naked out onto the dock, launching knees to chests in cannonballs, breaking up the swarms of night insects circling the lake in a uniform frenzy.
Sadie thought about how her body would pop up with a force equal to the weight of the water that was displaced, something her father taught her as a child that she found hard to grasp while it was happening. Her body cooled instantly. She launched forward into the darkness, a swim of pure muscle memory, with Jimmy in pursuit.
They reached the floating dock near the middle of the lake, clambering up the ladder slick with wet moss. They sat with their knees touching under the full moon, Sadie twisting the lake water from her hair and then retying it with the elastic band around her wrist. She crossed her arms over her breasts. Jimmy reached under her elbow to touch her right nipple.
“Did you know that dog bites are twice as common on a night when there’s a full moon?” she asked, pulling him towards her.
“Is that a fact?”
“Anecdotally,” she said. Their lips were almost touching. She ran her hand along his jaw, feeling the faint stubble. “My mom noticed it at the hospital. Every full moon, a few dog bites. Then she found a study that confirmed it.”
Jimmy lifted her breast to his mouth. Could they have sex on the floating dock without being seen or heard? She moaned, cupping one hand around his head. A dog barked again across the lake. Doubtful. They pulled apart.
“Mr. Eglington,” Sadie said, giggling. He was always on his deck with the binoculars. Jimmy nodded, thankful for the darkness.
Sadie picked at the scab on her knee that had dried in the shape of Florida. A chunk of Key West broke free under her nail.
The Woodbury house was dark except for two glowing squares of kitchen light. A quarter of the way around the lake, at Sadie’s best friend Amanda’s house, Carter the family dog continued to bark ceaselessly as a police car pulled into the driveway. The red and blue lights blinkered in a lazy swirl. Sadie and Jimmy stared as though they would be able to tell just by looking why the cops were there.
“That’s weird,” Jimmy said. “Should we swim over?” He dipped a toe into the still water.
“Nah, it’s late. Let’s just call her when we get back.”
Jimmy curled up into a ball and somersaulted back into the lake. Sadie watched him tread water for a moment and then followed. When they reached the shore, they pulled on their clothes on the strip of rocky beach. Conan gripped the bark of the largest oak tree, shimmying upwards, teeth tearing a sheaf of moldy paper from 1997 Taxes, green eyes aglow.
Joan was drying the last dinner plate, about to go wrap Sadie’s birthday presents, but her husband, George, took the dishtowel from her hand and replaced it with a glass of red wine. She took a sip, turned back to the expansive bay window, trying to make sure Jimmy and Sadie were not in any trouble. She hated when they swam at night. She would get flashbacks of a teenaged girl she’d worked on at the hospital who had drowned and come back to life but remained essentially brain--dead. The image would be of the girl’s cold arm hanging off the gurney as she was wheeled down the hall at the trauma center.
George kissed her cheek. “Come sit down, the kids are fine. Remember those nine hundred years of swimming lessons? Those ceremonies with the badges?”
“Maybe I should go check on them anyway,” she said.
George gave her an affectionate squeeze. “The water is so calm right now. They’re okay.”
She joined him at the table, placing an open Tupperware of lemon squares between them. She looked at the wine, tilted her glass in his direction in a gesture of what’s up?
Marriage is so much about embedded routines. That night they’d had grilled salmon and rice noodles, sautéed greens. The same as every Sunday night. Usually George was watching the news by now, head leaned back and mouth agape with a slow, murmuring snore. Joan glanced towards the window again, unable to stop herself from getting up and leaning over the sink on her tiptoes, pressing her forehead against the glass. All she was able to see in the moonlight was a dark blur of water beyond the edge of the hill, and the tip of the long wooden dock. George made a whirring sound and a helicopter motion with his hand, gently mocking her overprotective nature.
Joan surrendered with a laugh and sat back down. George raised his glass in a cheers, and pulled at the side of his lips before speaking. “Honey, for weeks I’ve been receiving these cryptic messages in my office mailbox,” he said, handing her two scraps of torn loose--leaf paper, both folded in half, that he’d pulled from his blazer pocket. One read People Are Watching You, and the other Be Careful.
“Teenaged nonsense.” She sipped her wine, swirled it around, and set it back on the table. She was excited to see Sadie open her presents in the morning at breakfast.
“Or so I thought, but today Dorothy told me to call a lawyer. She knows everything, working in the front office all day long, of course. She said there’s a rumor you’re being set up. It was all so Hollywood movie–-sounding that I laughed at her. But she looked deadly serious. She wouldn’t tell me anything else. Dorothy was acting strange—-stranger than normal, anyway.”
“She’s such a nutbar, Dorothy. Set up for what? Did you believe her?”
Dorothy McKnight was the secretary, and she irritated both of them, especially at parties, always wanting to talk about conspiracy theories and how Barack Obama was a Muslim.
“So I called Bennie during my spare this afternoon—-he’s the eldest son of my father’s lawyer. You know, they’re always at our Christmas parties?”
“Isn’t he a kid?” asked Joan.
“No, he’s forty, if you can believe it,” he said. “I called him again tonight. I’m on edge, Joan. I just wanted to tell you this. I don’t know what’s happening.” He took another generous sip of wine.
“A practical joke? It’s so strange.”
George shook his head. “I really don’t know.” This was a phrase George—-learned, stoic, opinionated—-rarely used. He prided himself on knowing the things that mattered.
Sadie and Jimmy jogged up the dirt path, wet bare feet on the stones between the bramble that curled into the sloping backyard. They were breathless when they reached the plateau, pausing where a row of kale and lettuces grew, waiting to be culled on her mother’s gardening day the following weekend. The rectangular in--ground pool that bordered their back deck made its usual hum of white noise. A circular hot tub, currently on the fritz, faced out onto the lake, edging out over the sharp lip of the hill. Ornate gardens sculpted carefully to appear wild surrounded the pool. Sadie leaned down and rubbed some lavender between her palms, cupping her hands around her face to inhale the warm scent on her way to the side entrance.
They snuck up the back stairs, rubbing their wet heads on the threadbare sunburst swim towels hanging from the coat hooks by the door to the basement. Jimmy traced a finger along Sadie’s spine, causing her to pause, shiver, and bat his hand away before she stepped over Payton, the fat sleeping tomcat on his designated fourth--step nap space. She headed for the kitchen barefoot, in search of iced tea. The plan to sneak up to Sadie’s room and finish what they had started was immediately thwarted by the unusual presence of her parents, seated at either end of the kitchen table.
The Woodbury parents were the academic sort, floating brains in denial of the body. Sadie reasoned that it was better not to talk about sex with them, to ensure that both she and her parents retained the privacy they both needed. It was less denial, she reasoned, more maturity. The same way that they all went to church on Sundays but never talked about God. Some things were meant to stay inside our own heads. When Jimmy stayed over, she was never sure if they knew or not. She did know that neither party was eager to discuss it.
When they entered the kitchen, the adults reacted with a sudden and uncharacteristic silence. Her mother’s brownish--gray bob was pushed back behind her ears with the help of her glasses. Joan usually had two facial expressions—-tired from work or happy to have a day off. Her face betrayed a sense of resigned incredulity. She never drank after dinner.
“What’s up with you guys? You’re not usually up this late.”
“Nothing,” Joan said, in a way that sounded the opposite. She picked up the container of lemon squares and held them out to Jimmy, who put a whole one in his mouth and grabbed a second, grinning appreciatively while he chewed.
“It’s past midnight . . .” Sadie sing--songed expectantly. Joan stared at her daughter for a few moments before realizing what she meant.
“Oh, happy birthday, darling!” Joan said, half present.
“Yes, happy birthday, beautiful daughter,” said George, standing up to give her a hug.
Sadie felt a brief moment of birthday excitement, and then the house seemed to shake with a pounding on the front door, followed by an insistent baritone call: “We’re looking for George Alistair Woodbury!”
“What’s going on?” Sadie said, peering through the kitchen entrance and down the hall to the foyer. Red and blue flashed through the open windows, a light show for the symphony of cicadas. She approached the door tentatively. George sat back down at the table, staring into his glass of wine.
“Sadie, don’t. I’ll get it,” Joan said as she approached the door, peering through the peephole cautiously. She opened it slowly to find two plainclothes detectives and several uniformed officers.
“Hello, ma’am, is your husband home?”
They made it only a few feet down the front hall before spotting him through the living room, still at the kitchen table. He stood, knocking over his glass. It pooled, then slowly dripped onto the kitchen floor.
For months Joan would replay this moment, trying to decipher the look on her husband’s face. Was it guilt? Confusion? Indignation? Stoicism? Acting? But nothing, not even a revolving camera of omniscience, a floating momentary opportunity to narrate, would allow anyone to truly understand the truth about George. He became a hard statue, an obstacle, a symbol.
The father and the husband, from that moment, had been transformed.
Excerpted from "The Best Kind of People"
Copyright © 2018 Zoe Whittall.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
1. The book opens with a gunman walking the halls of the prep school. Why does the author choose to begin with this incident, which occurs several years before the main action of the rest of the plot? How does this framing shape your interpretation of the events to come?
2. As readers, we learn from the back cover’s plot summary that George Woodbury is arrested for sexual misconduct. How is the novel’s suspense created and maintained? Is George’s guilt or innocence the main question we want answered, or are there more complex psychological stakes for us as readers?
3. Who are the victims in the Woodbury case? In what ways is their credibility called into question before the trial even begins?
4. The second of the book’s epigraphs is about rape culture—-the social forces that conspire to make the public side with the person accused of a sexual assault, rather than with the victim. Who sides with the accused in the George Woodbury case? How do they justify their allegiance to him?
5. The Woodburys hold a unique social class position: in one sense they are old money as they have inherited a longstanding family fortune, but George is a teacher and Joan is a nurse. How does this mix of class affiliations affect how the Woodburys are treated by the criminal justice system—-and by their peers—-throughout the arrest and the events that follow?
6. When Andrew wakes up in his hometown, he feels a “heavy presence on his chest.” What is this weight that settles on him, back in Woodbury Lake? Has it lessened in his adulthood, or does he just relate to it differently?
7. How does the case against her father affect Sadie’s personality and values? What does her attachment to the koala bear eraser tell us about the continuities in her character?
8. How long does it take each family member to reconsider George’s innocence? What factors, both personal and social, shape their beliefs about the charges he faces?
9. Joan feels ashamed when a TV station plays footage from back when George stopped the gunman at Avalon Hills. “It was instinct,” George says in that clip. Why does this scene suddenly seem “monstrous and humiliating” to Joan? What does her response to the clip tell us about her changing view of her husband?
10. Joan enters a support group for family members of people accused of sexual violence. Why does she initially have trouble fitting in to the group and why does she continue to attend? Is the group meaningful for her?
11. Novels about crimes often take a forensic approach to the details of what happened (reporting on evidence, slowly revealing the facts); however, in The Best Kind of People, details of the crime itself are peripheral. What is the main focus of the narrative? Why do you think the author chose this focus?
12. Kevin, an opportunistic writer, uses the Woodbury case as the basis for his new novel. In doing so he provides the reader with a main account of the case details. Why might Whittall have chosen to explore the actual crime as a story within a story?
13. The novel is written from the point of view of many characters: Sadie’s, Joan’s, and Andrew Woodbury’s perspectives predominate, but other views appear, too. Conspicuously absent is George Woodbury’s account. Why might the author have chosen to stay outside George’s world? How might the book be different if it contained George’s point of view?
14. The book’s epilogue details the fallout from the case and reveals Joan’s final decision about her husband. Why do you think she makes the choice she does? What does this story suggest to us about the long--term consequences of sexual assault cases for victims, family members, and the accused?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I liked this book so much I actually stretched it out a little bit so I could be involved in it for longer. It's definitely not a feel-good read, but it's finely crafted and I was so involved with the story and each and every character. I'm disappointed that I let it languish on my shelf unread for so long. It's emotionally gripping and very timely, dealing with what happens when a pillar of the community is accused of being a sexual predator. When a lot of us think of sexual predators, we still think of loners... even though we know that's not always the case. The person that you always sensed something a little off about, your hackles going up immediately when you see them. Certainly not a man with a family, money, and a great job. Not someone admired by the whole town. Not a local hero. What happens to that family, that job, that community when someone is accused of something so heinous? Has he been fooling everyone for years, or did he step on someone's toes and is being set up, as he says? That question remains unanswered for most of the book, but the question of did he or didn't he isn't really the main point. The book mostly focuses on how his loved ones deal with the accusation and the possibility that it has truth to it. George Woodbury wins Teacher of the Year every single year after taking down a gunman roaming the school when his daughter was very young. This happened in front of Sadie, and though she is now a senior and an over-achiever in school, she is still affected by it. There's something a bit more nervous about her, despite her academic success and popularity. Rounding out the family is nurse Joan, loving mother to her two children, and Andrew, who has already left the nest. When George is accused of sexual impropriety by several students, none of them know what to think. They're stunned. Andrew is drawn back to town to support his father, but being around again means facing unhappy memories about his school years. Sadie and Joan don't know how to feel, Sadie seeming unable to deal with it at all and Joan jumping from denial to anger. This isn't a terribly fast-paced book, and that's appropriate. Cases like this stretch out for a long time, and I feel like it was represented fairly accurately by the author. They aren't resolved in just a week or two. It's mostly a character study, detailing how some very different people in the same family deal with the same thing. It's a really fascinating read and certainly worth a look.
This is not the first book I’ve read where a character is accused of sexual assault of a minor. Both books kept me extremely interested, but in completely different ways. This book made me want to love each character, and in a way I definitely did. The character development was excellent. I found the descriptive way the author wrote lovely, it never got to the point where I got annoyed, which usually happens with a ton of descriptiveness. I loved the way each character was described. I felt like the author was making sure you could relate to a part of each character. Each character played roles needed to make the story flow beautifully. It was interesting to see how differently each character reacted differently to the circumstances. I can see why this book was so hyped, it definitely lives up to it’s reputation. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time wondering what would happen next. Overall this book was wonderfully written. I was shocked at certain parts, which was expected. I read this book in one sitting, I had to see what was going to happen. I felt like the outcome had to be known right away. I highly enjoyed reading this book.
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall is a highly recommended examination of a family after their husband/father is accused of multiple incidents of sexual misconduct with a minor. The police showed up at midnight on Sadie Woodbury's 17th birthday to arrest her father, George, and charged him with multiple cases of sexual misconduct. George teaches science at the local prep school and has been named Teacher of the Year every year since he stopped a gun man from hurting anyone at the school. Joan, his wife, is a well-respected ER nurse. Their oldest son, Andrew is a lawyer in NYC with a boyhood history of being bullied at Avalon. The charges seem inconceivable. How could the man they love and trust be guilty of the charges? The novel does not focus on George, who is in prison awaiting trial during the novel, but on his family and how they are handling the accusations and recriminations. Joan vacillates between denial and rage. Her sister, Clara, comes in to support her and condemns George. She finds a support group and attempts to work through her emotions. Sadie, who was a popular student body leader is now an outcast and becomes reclusive, using marijuana to escape. Andrew rallies to support his family and father, but returning home brings unpleasant memories of abuse as a gay teen in a small town back to haunt him. They all are experiencing shock, various degrees of denial, and confusion. Along with the community scrutiny, judgement, and gossip, a writer decides to pen a lurid novel based on the story and a men's rights activist group rallies to George's defense. The Woodburys were viewed as successful pillars of the community before the charges. Whittall focuses on the fact that once accusations of a crime of this magnitude are given voice it is impossible for her characters to ignore or not consider the validity of the charges, which completely changes how they view the person they thought they knew. Additionally, the charges against one family member affect all the family members. After an eventful opening when the arrest happens, the novel slows down the pace and covers how the emotions of the family members shift and change over the months leading up to the trial. Really, we are viewing the loss of trust and the psychological destruction of the Woodbury family. While well-written and engrossing, there are a few missteps. The addition of the writer detracted from the novel's strengths while muddied the focus of the plot and wasn't really necessary. How Joan, Sadie, and Andrew were handling the crisis and their emotions, along with all the social ramifications they were experiencing should have remained the focus. Personally, I liked the ending, even though it did seem a wee bit rushed and just sort of wound down. While it might seem muddled to some readers, it did capture the idea that some events change a person forever and never really have a perfect resolution. (Probably a 3.5) Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Random House Publishing Group.
The Best Kind of People is Zoe Whittal’s fourth novel though the first I have read. It’s a story of a family fractured by crisis and how they deal with it. It begins on Sadie’s seventeenth birthday when her father is arrested and charged with four counts of sexual misconduct and assault. George is the Teacher of the Year every year, a local hero who tackled a potential mass murderer who came to the school with a rifle ten years earlier, but he is arrested, indicted, and held without bail. His wife, Joan, loves him and finds herself at a loss. Andrew, the oldest, takes time from his work in New York to come home and support the family. We follow Joan, Andrew, and Sadie throughout the year until the trial. George is mostly off-screen, in jail, and denying everything. We have no insight into his mind, of course, because then we might know if he’s guilty or innocent. Ironically, they all subscribe to the view that people should believe women and girls who accuse others of sexual assault. Sadie is a fount of statistics arguing in favor of believing the girls, but of course, they don’t want to believe them. Also, they know George and the idea seems preposterous. The Best Kind of People will not make readers happy. There is no happy ending possible. If the girls are lying, Whittal reinforces the Men’s Rights Activist myth that most rape allegations are false, expressions of morning-after regret, though how twelve-year-olds could be accused of such is appalling, but then MRAs are appalling. If George is guilty and convicted, then Joan, Sadie, and Andrew will be heartbroken and we have come to care about them and understand their love holds George in their hearts no matter what. If he’s guilty and gets away with it, well, that is the American way – see Brock Turner and Donald Trump. But it won’t make anyone happy. Of course, George is the least interesting character, out of the way as he is. Instead, there is the evolution of Joan from a happy, loving wife and mother to a more independent, cynical woman. Sadie is quicker to doubt her father and struggles with bullying at school. Andrew is solid in supporting his dad but recalls his teen affair with his coach, though that should not complicate the issue since he was seventeen and these accusers are twelve, but it does. People are emotional, not rational. This story is also very much about social class. These are the Woodbury’s whose family founded the elite gated community in which they live. Their lives are privileged and now they wait in lines and attend group therapy with people they would never know in their earlier lives. You see their class judgments and their liberal guilt with the judgments they make. There’s also skewering of the MRA’s whose ignorance is embodied by a school employee who organizers rallies in support of George. This is one of those books that will incite a lot of emotions, sorrow, anger, and empathy. It would be great for book groups as it will provoke discussion. There’s no right way to feel about the book. There were times I felt angry with Whittal and then there were times I was nodding in agreement. There is no neutral in this story. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.
2.5 Stars. Am sorry to say THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE did not work FOR ME. IT ALL BEGINS with an enticing prologue! Science teacher George Woodbury saves the day when he tackles a gunman at the academy averting what could have been a major disaster.....with many lives lost. BUT....life as a hero takes a turn for the worse when George is accused of sexual misconduct of four minors during a school sponsored ski trip. Everyone is shocked and family chaos sets in, but the story flatlines here FOR ME as it loses focus on George....what really happened.....what was going on with him....and for how long? MOST of the rest of the story revolves around George's (recently turned 17) daughter....her sex escapades under the influence of alcohol and weed....some personal difficulties of his gay attorney son, and wife Joan's frustrations and indecisions regarding what to do about.....well everything, AND.....you won't believe how it all ends! ANYWAY, congratulations to author Zoe Whittall as THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE has already won numerous awards and is shortlisted for others with expected publication in the U.S. not even until September 19th!
This was a very interesting book. This book was in the point of view of the suspects family. When most books, tv shows or movies are either the point of view of the victim or the suspect, it is really refreshing and interesting to see it with the family of the suspects point of view. I really enjoyed this book and felt one way towards the suspect and by the end wasn't sure how I felt about him. I would recommend this to family and friends to read because it's such a different take on this type of book. *Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this for my honest opinion*
George Woodbury is a denizen of his community. He is wealthy, charming, and someone who is looked up to as a pillar of society. That all seems to be crashing down when George is arrested on charges of sexual impropriety with girls he had taken on an overnight ski trip. George's family is devastated and each member goes through the stages of disbelief, acceptance, and knowledge that their family will never be the same. George has disrupted their lives in untold ways, making the young daughter, Sadie, previously a model student into a pariah. Sadie starts exhibiting behaviors that are risky to say the least all while be allowed to live in her boyfriend's home so she will be shielded from those people who torment her mother and wreck havoc on their home life. The son, Andrew, wrestling with his memories of being tormented because he is gay, so wants to help his father, but is tortured by anger so contained within in himself. The wife, Joan, walks a tightrope between belief in her husband and anger after things in George's past become apparent. Added to this, is an author who has not had a successful novel in years capitalizing on his closeness to the Sadie since he is the boyfriend of Sadie's mother and lives in the house where Sadie has decided to stay. Will this family collapse or will they ultimately come to accept doubt within their own mind as to George's innocence? While this was a thought provoking novel, it also was one that seemed to exonerate someone because of where they came from. Perhaps the prisons are filled with some people who are innocent but to this reader, George was not one of them.
What happens when the town hero gets arrested on charges of sexual misconduct with students from his school? Does everyone stand behind him, or do they make him the villain? This book will keep you engrossed from beginning to end. Perfect for the fans of Jodie Picoult, this is definitely a book you will want to read.
I enjoyed reading this family saga of a family falling apart. The Woodburys apparently have a perfect life in a Connecticut suburb. The father, George, is a local hero until he is arrested and accused of sexual misconduct with under age girls. This book explores how this event effects the rest of the family, Joan the wife who tries hard to stand by her man, Sadie the daughter and Andrew the grown gay son living in NYC. The father's arrest calls into question everything they believed in as a family. The characters and the privileged setting are very believable. The book is very quick and easy to read despite the serious subject. Enjoy
The Woodburys are your typical upper class family. They live in an exclusive part of town. George, the father is a very popular teacher in the high school, also a local hero due to his capturing of a gunman in the school years ago. Joan is the typical suburban wife. Son Andrew has moved away from the town and daughter Sadie is a brilliant and popular student. Suddenly it all comes crashing down when George is arrested for improper sexual contact with several students. This story shows how “the perfect family” deals with crisis from their own perspective.
I found this book to be more confusing than anything else. The story starts inside the head of school shooter, bent on taking out his girlfriend who works at the school. I assume this is to show how George's heroic actions during the crisis endeared him to the community, but there is little else about it throughout the book. From there, it jumps to a few years later and into the middle of an intimate scene between Sadie, George's 17 year old daughter, and her boyfriend, and I'm still scratching my head over the relevancy of that. Once George is arrested, I expected the real story here to begin taking shape and thought that I would learn something of his guilt or innocence, which would create some suspense to the story. Instead, I got what began to feel like an information dump about a lot of other people. There are pages and pages of the sexual activity of teenagers, along with their drug use and drinking, but the story reads as if all the teenagers in this community are participating in such activity, making it hard to empathize with Sadie's behavior being the result of the charges against her father. In fact, I found little about any of the characters to elicit empathy, other than the wife. Joan's behavior and reactions were the only ones that made much sense. But, as crazy as it sounds, I did keep reading, mostly out of curiosity about George than anything else, but the bulk of the story was just more of the same. George, who this story supposedly revolves around, isn't what I would consider even a secondary character. Finally, we get to the ending, which was a disappointment at best. The conclusion is rushed and unrealistic in many aspects. After giving it some thought, I believe there were just too many characters and too much going on for the author to stay on track and instead of one family's struggle to cope, it became a bit of mess of several characters running in different directions.
I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Zoe Whittall, and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. This novel is presented from the aspect of the immediate family of an award winning high school teacher accused of rape and improper behavior on a weekend ski trip with his class. His accusers are several of his students, girls the family all knew and trusted. It is a hard book to read. You waffle back and forth - he did it, he didn't do it - just as the members of his family do, for the whole 8 months between arrest and trial. We don't see much of George as he is held without bond. We live with this family, though - ostracized in their their community, bullied at school, under constant surveillance by the paparazzi and dehumanized by every Tom Dick and Harry they have to deal with every day. By the middle of the book you realize it doesn't really matter if George did what he is accused of or not - the lives of these people will never be 'normal' again. Rape is horrific. To be falsely accused of rape is horrific. The biggest injustice out there is the general acceptance of what society identifies as 'rape culture'. Rape is a nightmare to everyone involved and everyone who loves the victim, the perpetrator. This book helps us understand just how hard it is to find justice for this crime in this fast paced life we are living today. I am glad that I read it. I want my son and daughter to read it, as well.
MY REVIEW OF "THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE" by ZOE WHITTALL What a thought provoking novel "The Best Kind of People" by Zoe Whittall is. I appreciate the many contemporary issues in today's society, that Zoe Whittall had written about. I had so many emotions when I was reading this book. The genres for the book are Fiction and Adult Fiction. I also feel there is a dash and question of some mystery in here as well. The timeline of this book is set mostly in the present, and goes to the past only to explain relevant issues of the characters or storyline. "The novel takes place in an affluent town of Avalon Hills, a suburb of Connecticut, and also in the city. The author describes the characters as complicated and complex. The Woodbury's are an affluent family in the small community of Avalon Hills. George, is a husband, father, and Science teacher at a private school, where he is known as a hero for stopping a man with a gun pointed at his daughter. Joan is a wife, mother and is an emergency room nurse. Sadie is the daughter, that still has memories of the attack in school, when she was little, but now is seventeen, and making plans for college. Andrew is the older son, now an attorney , and lives with his partner in the city. Everything seems fine, until suddenly it isn't. George is arrested for inappropriate sexual behavior that supposedly occurred during a skiing trip with his students. Several girls have made accusations. My first thought is that with our legal system, isn't one innocent until proven guilty? Suddenly everything changes for the family, and not only is the father on trial, but the media is involved, and the whole family seems to be on trial as well. There are twists and turns in this story. I appreciate that the author describes contemporary problems such as sexual abusers and the effects of their actions on their families, the victim, and the victim's families. Also discussed is recreational use of drugs, sexual freedom in high schools, homosexuality, lack of adequate parenting and providing a role model for children, and the consequences of the media today. The author writes about family, support, love, and hope. I would recommend this emotionally charged book for readers that like to question things. I received a copy of this Advanced Reading Copy for my honest review.
It's been really hard to find a good book to read lately. This book was pretty good compared to most of the very medicore books I've read this summer, though not worthy of five stars.