Title: The Best Kind of People
Author: Zoe Whittall
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books
Date of publication: September 19th, 2017
Genre: General Fiction
Number of pages: 424
POV: 3rd person
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
To the shock of his family and community, George Woodbury, an affable teacher, and beloved husband and father are arrested for sexual assault at a prestigious prep school in Connecticut. While he awaits his trial in jail, his family is left to pick up the pieces.
His wife, Joan, a trauma nurse, is unable to triage her emotional reactions, and vaults between rage and denial. Daughter Sadie, the consummate overachiever, finds herself paralyzed on her boyfriend’s couch with a bong, while a local author attempts to exploit her story. Their son, Andrew, a lawyer in New York, assists in his father’s defense while wrestling with the unhappy memories of his own teen years in high school. Unfolding over a one-year period, the novel focuses on the Woodbury family as they struggle to support George while privately grappling with the possibility of his guilt.
With exquisite emotional precision, Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.
Trigger Warning: sexual assault on minors, drug use
I was intrigued by the plot of The Best Kind of People. This book was looking at the aftermath of when a teacher is accused of sexual assault on a student. When I mean aftermath, I mean how the family is affected by everything that happened and how they cope with it. So, I was a little disappointed when the book didn’t live up to my internal hype of it.
I could not connect with any of the characters after my initial feeling bad for them. There was a disconnect with Sadie, Andrew, and Joan with me. They didn’t seem to ring true as I read the book. Sadie’s descent into smoking pot and stealing drugs was a little too much for me. What also was a little too much was Andrew’s reactions to his hometown. To sum it up: He loved to hate the town and the people in it. And then there is Joan. For someone who kept saying that she didn’t look down on people, she sure looked down on everyone in the book. She was very judgy and she drove me nuts. Her reactions to different relationships nailed it for me.
What I did like, and I wish more emphasis was put on it, was George and what he did. The author did a great job keeping you on your toes. Did George do it or was he being set up? There wasn’t a concrete answer. You were forced to make your own decision based on the facts that the author let leak during the story. It was great.
The author also did a great job portraying a family that was blindsided by what happened. The effect of George and his arrest almost dismantled his family. Sadie got the worst of it…seeing that she was in the same school as her accusers. She went from being a popular well-liked girl to a social pariah within a day. Andrew, whose relationship was already on shaky ground, started developing awful anger and relationship issues. Joan was having issues coming to term with what George did and had no clue how to act or what to do. The author also did a great job of showing how they recovered or didn’t recover, from what happened.
The end of the book was not a happy one which was ok with me. Not all endings have to be happy. There were still issues that needed to be resolved and you are left wondering “Did he do it?”
My Summary of The Best Kind of People: 3 stars
The Best Kind of People started off with a bang and then stalled out before ending on a weak note. While I liked that I was kept on my toes about George, I felt that there was a disconnect with his family and that is what brought the book down a star for me.
Will I reread: Maybe
Will I recommend to family and friends: Maybe
Age range: Adult
Why: Sexual situations, drug use
I would like to thank Zoe Whittall, NetGalley, Random House, and Ballantine Books for allowing me to review The Best Kind of People
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**