Book Review: The Best Kind of People (Zoe Whittall)

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-8-13-42-amWhat if someone you loved and trusted was accused of the unthinkable? When a popular teacher, and beloved husband/father, George Woodbury is arrested for sexual misconduct after a school ski trip, the people around him are shattered. His wife Joan deals with denial and rage. His daughter becomes a social outcast. His son puts his own life on hold to try and assist in his father’s defense.  How can they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt? 

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall was a book that had been in my TBR pile for ages. A work of, what I consider, contemporary crime fiction, following a family as they work through the trial of their patriarch, had a significant amount of buzz; especially in Canada, as Whittall was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize (a Canadian literary award).

I had some seriously mixed feelings when I finished this novel.

Let me explain, this novel did have things I loved. For example, the development of the plot was one thing I enjoyed. I loved that I was unable to decide whether or not he was he was guilty or innocent. I felt like Whittall did an awesome job at portraying the idea of the “unknown” and I felt uneasy thinking about making the decision, or if this was happening to me.

However, for the most part, this narrative felt disjointed. I had a huge issue with the pacing. I found this novel to move extremely slowly (we are talking glacier speed) and not a heck of a lot happened. I don’t know if this was because the author was trying to portray what it would have been like as the family waited or their trial, not knowing and not having any information, but as a reader, I was extremely frustrated while I read.   George is arrested in the first chapter and, for the next 300 pages, nothing happens.     This is such a strange novel for me to discuss because while I acknowledged there was nothing happening, I did enjoy reading it. Whittall is a fantastic writer and it is clear throughout this work. I just felt like the novel was a continuous revisiting of previously discussed plot.

I will say for as slow moving as the plot was, this one did end up with a landslide ending that blew me away.   And due to the subject matter (especially with the prevalence of rape culture discussion in our society), I think it would make a fantastic read for a book club.

For someone who is looking for a quick-moving, fast-paced, on the edge of your seat thriller. You will not like this. If you are looking for a mystery novel? You won’t be a fan either.   However, if something slower paced with strong subject matter is something that interests you, then you will probably enjoy this novel. I gave it a 3/5 on Goodreads.

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