Contemporary, Drama, Family

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

My favorite stories are the ones that take terrible events or crimes and look at it from a different perspective. It makes one think and connect more to the various players both in the forefront and in the background of the incident. I like these kinds of novels because they make my realize my own prejudices and they force me to open my eyes to the bigger picture. That’s the main reason I was attracted to this novel.

George Woodbury is a much-loved teacher, husband, and father. So it comes as a shock when he is arrested for sexual impropriety at the very school he teaches at. His wife, Joan, is forced into a difficult situation, as the community she loves turns against her. Their daughter, Sadie, who was once a popular over-achiever is now reduced to a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, comes into town to help his father’s defense, but finds painful memories from his teen years are still holding him back. As the family tries to keep themselves together during this difficult time, the question at the back of all of their minds is: did he do it?

While this novel wasn’t perfect, I must say that I really enjoyed it. The story switches into different perspectives throughout the novel with the exception of George, which I found really intriguing. The novel did quite a good job in portraying the difficulties that the family of the accused faces before and after a terrible scandal. The author really showed how people can go from being friends to enemies in the blink of an eye, and how hard it can be for a family to support someone that they love, even while facing the possibility that their loved one is guilty of committing an atrocious crime. In the beginning, I was more interested in finding out whether George was guilty or not but as the story progressed, I found myself empathizing with the members of his family – especially Joan. I think that while Andrew and Sadie were hard to empathize with, Joan was depicted quite nicely as the pillar of support. Her character kept me intrigued and it was with her that I felt the most connected. I wish the author had spent more time developing Sadie and Andrew, since they mostly came off as selfish and sometimes a little stupid. The story does skip around in terms of the time frame but it was necessary; it kept the pace brisk and kept me interested. While the author may not have gotten every legal aspect correct, she did shed light on the struggles that the victims themselves face during a court trial. Being painted as a liar or as someone who has done something to deserve it…. these are terrible accusations especially when the victims are pressing charges regarding a sexual encounter but these accusations really do occur in the real world; the media and even some locals can go against the victims, causing justice to not be served. It was something that the author really honed in on and I’m glad she did because I never really considered this issue before. The ending made me really sad. It highlighted the tragedy that occurs in the justice system and showed how no one really wins. Overall, this novel has a high-impact plot that will make you see things from various different perspectives. I think that the plot and the important issues that are raised by the author are strong enough to overpower the negatives, so this is a novel that I would definitely recommend!

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