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The Best Kind Of People by Zoe Whittall

Zoe Whittall's book has been highly touted in the literary world. Now placed on the Giller Prize shortlist, the novel is on the wish list of many bookish fans to win the coveted title in November. But, beyond being just a literary piece, can this book that's highly controversial in its subject matter, illuminate the discussion on rape culture? 

There was so much discussion about The Best Kind Of People, and the hype inevitably caught up to me. Initially I was skeptical of the subject matter, but talk about its literary feat peaked my interest. I was in one of those book reading moods where the thought of committing to a heavy topic almost felt like an onset to depression. 

But, I'm quite glad I ignored that glass-half-empty feeling, because The Best Kind Of People is anything but that. Zoe Whittall's writing style is different. You feel like a fly on the wall taking in the events without necessarily being sucked into the drama. You don't necessarily have to take sides. You just observe the events unfold and see the world from a 360 degree perspective. It's not designed for you to take sides and pass judgement. Because it's a book about the family and how their relationships change and modify as a result of this devastating news. As the events unfold, you watch, you listen, and as in life, you really don't know how it's all going to end. And whether it will be fair. Whatever happens, things can never be quite the same as before. But then, that's life. 

Zoe Whittall book launch at Cadillac Lounge in Toronto.

The Best Kind Of People makes you question everything. How well do you really know those around you? Can someone who's seen as a husband, a doting father, be capable of something else? Is everyone innocent until proven guilty? And, even then can we be 110% sure that the law made the right decision? 


The story's focus is around a family who's patriarch has been accused of sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. George, a teacher, who's until now been seen as nothing but outstanding, even once confronting a gunman at the school and saving his daughter's life.  

But, rather than focus on the accused, Zoe Whittall chose to write the story from the perspective of the family. How will this incident shatter their normal life. When someone is your husband or father, is that simply who they are? Normally, you don't stop to question anything about them, until you are given reason to. 

Everyone has secrets. But how big are those secrets that you keep from your partner. Joan, tries to grapple with the unknown. Did her husband really do what they say he did? He's never had an affair or acted inappropriately. He's been the pinnacle of normalcy, and decency. But, does that mean he is who he's led them to believe? What if the person you loved and trusted, suddenly became a different person overnight? How would you react. 

And even if the stories about George's sexual indiscretion turned out to be a bunch of lies, his family would be forever scarred with them. Because they would always remain out there, obstacles, information that could never be undone. 

Then, there's the children. Sadie and Andrew. Sadie, the once popular kid in her school, becomes a social pariah. Andrew, had left the town, but when the news unfolds comes back to be with his family, and is confronted with the demons of his past that he tried to escape. 

They say that bad things happen to good people, and in Zoe Whittall's The Best Kind Of People you see that firsthand. As the cover suggests, this book explores the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse. 

Exquisitely written. Masterfully told. Emotionally charged. 



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Blog post by @ShilpaRaikar (Creative and Social Media strategist, decor enthusiast and book lover, who also writes for a branding blog: thinkblink.ca/blog, as well as a lifestyle blog: sukasastyle.com T: @SukasaStyle) 


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Comments

  1. It's startling, isn't it, just how readable the story is, when everything about the story seems to suggest that you are going to crawl through it! One of my favourites this year for sure.

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