“Imagine the person you love and trust becoming a different person overnight. What would you do?”
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall is a novel about a sheltered and privileged family (WASP), living in an upper-class small town community. Life appears perfect for the Woodbury family: George, a loveable family man, likeable teacher, and respected in the community, lives in a picturesque home with his doting wife, Joan, and their daughter, Sadie, a popular A+ high school student; their son Andrew, is a lawyer living in New York with his boyfriend. That is until George is taken into custody under multiple allegations of sexual assault involving several young female students causing the Woodbury’s happy-go-lucky life to instantaneously turn upside down.
Readers follow the aftermath that these accusations have on Joan, Sadie and Andrew, and are provided a glimpse into their minds through third-person narration as their stories are told in alternate chapters. However, George’s character is silenced, causing readers to speculate and form their own opinions based on the facts and accusations that come to light throughout the novel.
The Best Kind of People explores the nuances around rape culture, blaming the victim, and the ‘what if’ debate. What if George was innocent and these girls lied; what if the girls told the truth but there was not enough evidence to support their statements; what if he did sexually assault these young girls?
This is an important read, now more than ever, as the Jian Ghomeshis and Brock Turners are found to be ‘innocent’ or face minimal sentencing for their horrific actions, while the women who bravely come forward are labeled attention whores and slut-shamed. Victim blaming is real. Rape denial is real. Rape culture is real.
Read this gripping and thought-provoking novel and let me know your thoughts! Do you think George is innocent or guilty? What are your thoughts on the novel’s ending, and Joan’s actions?