The Best Kind Of People by Zoe Whittall

THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE is a page-turning Canadian bestseller about a family on the brink of collapse. It gives no easy answers, but once you stay up all night reading it, you’ll want to talk about it with everyone you know.

For the past ten years, science teacher George Woodbury has been hailed a suburban hero.

But when his daughter Sadie turns 17, George is arrested for sexual misconduct with her own classmates, while his wife Joan looks on in shock.

As George awaits trial, his son Andrew, a lawyer in New York, returns home to help, only to confront his own unhappy memories.

How can the family defend the man they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?

My Review:

This novel has a fascinating synopsis. The story of the ‘pillar of the community’ figure accused of a heinous crime. But the story doesn’t follow George Woodbury in the aftermath of the accusations, but more the impact upon his family. His wife is devastated and in a state of disbelief. His lawyer son, tries to come to terms with the legal ramifications for their family. The teen daughter quickly becomes a social pariah and alienated by her own friends.

Avalon Hills Prep school, has known a scandal previously. When an armed man entered the building. The man was taken down by George Woodbury and this cemented his status as local hero and teacher of the year (year after year). George Woodbury became known as ‘the man from Woodbury lake who’d saved the children’. His father George senior is a real estate developer, who developed the local community. Hence the name ‘Woodbury’ being woven into every element of the community.

George’s teen daughter Sadie is relaxing at the family’s lakeside home with her boyfriend Jimmy. She is the typical teenage girl, with her head full of her own teenage problems. That is until the cops arrive and arrest her father. . .

In the days after the arrest the family must come to terms with the accusations. Joan (George’s wife) seeks the guidance of her sister Clara and son Andrew. The family lawyer Bennie arrives and informs the family of the charges. The accusations are clear, George is being accused of sexual misconduct with four minors and the attempted rape of a minor. Joan’s protective nature kicks in and she is determined to protect the family reputation at all costs. But how do you defend the inexcusable?

The police exercise their search warrant and cease the computer. It is then we become aware George had been receiving threats in the build up to the arrest.
Who sent the threats? And why?

The Woodbury community is affluent, educated, church-going and privileged. The accusations are not going to go away. But they do leave a community divided in their wake. The family receive regular updates via George’s lawyer and the press. They become aware the accusations stem from a recent skiing trip and that George had recently lost his role as science teacher.
With every new development they become more and more shocked.

Sadie receives a text from her best friend Amanda simply saying, ‘I’m sorry’. Did Amanda accuse George? Sadie is desperate for updates. The press continually stalks the family, they are now fodder for the prime-time networks.
Life for the Woodbury’s has completely changed.

Throughout the novel, I was firmly gripped! It is clearly laid bare how accusations destroy lives. But so, does sexual violence. Each member of the family reacts in differing ways, due to their different relationships with George. The police dig deeper and deeper into the family’s past and nothing is left unexposed. George’s connections help and hinder him in the eyes of the community.

A divided town and a divided family. Secrets, accusations and lies, they all come bubbling to the surface in this powerful, compelling story. 5*

Zoe Whittall

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