A finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a national bestseller, Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People is a stunning tour de force about the unravelling of an all-American family.
George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?
With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.
Zoe Whittall’s third novel, The Best Kind of People, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was named Indigo’s #1 Book of 2016, and is being adapted for film by director Sarah Polley. Whittall won a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Writing in a Variety or Sketch Comedy Program with the team from The Baroness von Sketch Show. She has also written for Schitt's Creek, among other shows. Her second novel, Holding Still for as Long as Possible, won a Lambda Literary Award, and her first novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, is now being adapted into a limited series for television. Her short fiction and arts criticism have appeared in Granta, The Walrus, the Believer, Cosmonauts, Hazlitt, and others, and she has published three volumes of poetry.
PRAISE FOR THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE (2016)
SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE FINALIST
NATIONAL POST 99 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
INDIGO BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN INDIGO BEST BOOK OF THE DECADE
GLOBE AND MAIL BEST 100 BOOKS OF 2016
“Heartbreaking and complex, The Best Kind of People offers no easy answers. This is a masterly exploration of the damage an entire community incurs when the secret at the heart of its most perfect family detonates.” — Lynn Coady author of The Antagonist
“The Best Kind of People examines the effects of rape culture on an entire community with rare nuance and insight. Every character is fully rounded, flawed, and achingly human. It puts me in mind of a twenty-first-century Ordinary People — which, for the record, is one of my favourite novels.” — Kate Harding, author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture — and What We Can Do About It
“With incredibly rare nuance, sensitivity, and insight, Zoe Whittall takes us deep into our contemporary conversation around sexual violence and shines a vital spotlight on the individuals and communities that live in its long shadow. Whittall’s undisputed talent as a writer shines, as does her understanding into the complexity of our sympathies, our morality, and our humanity. With The Best Kind of People, Whittall has created an urgent and timely document, one that asks us to reflect on how we can best serve survivors of abuse and best support all of those who exist in its aftermath. With incredible empathy, and undeniable skill, this book is sure to spark much needed dialogue, vital debate, and richly deserved acclaim.” — Stacey May Fowles, author of Infidelity
“Zoe Whittall's novel gets into the hearts and minds of an ordinary family forced to confront the monstrous. There are no heroes and no villains in this world — there are only people grappling with guilt and truth. This novel is a timely discussion of what we owe those who abuse and those who are targeted in our communities. It's a compelling exploration of the ways a crime implicates all of us.” — Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman
“Whittall places the reader right at the centre of their pain. It’s the best depiction of female suffering I’ve read since Jane Smiley eloquently tackled sexual abuse in A Thousand Acres.” — Toronto Star“Nuanced to the end, Whittall’s novel achieves something that’s rare in real-life cases of sexual violence. She gives a voice to the ones we never hear from: those who are collateral damage.” — Chatelaine“Toronto author Zoe Whittall’s new novel The Best Kind of People is the best kind of book — it’s got a compelling story, characters readers will recognize and come to love, and writing that makes it effortless to turn page after page.” — Vancouver Sun
“Fast-paced … but never melodramatic.” — Maclean’s
“Exquisitely emotional.” — Owen Sound Sun Times
“An astounding portrait of a character by omission.” — National Post
“Whittall raises her game dramatically in this Giller-shortlisted novel.” — NOW Magazine
“A story like this never ends… . A humane, clear eyed attempt to explore the ripple effects of sexual crime.” — Kirkus Reviews
PRAISE FOR THE MIDDLE GROUND (2010)
“Whittall’s prose demonstrates vitality and humour as she includes the minutiae of daily life among the bizarre events in Missy's adventure … An entertaining read. Recommended.” — CM Magazine
PRAISE FOR HOLDING STILL AS LONG AS POSSIBLE (2009):
LAMBDA LITERARY AWARDS: TRANSGENDER FICTION WINNER
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION STONEWALL HONOUR BOOK
“With Holding Still, Whittall has established herself as a writer of immense vitality and courage; she stands as the voice of a lost, but thanks to her not forgotten, generation: the boys and girls who will inherit the earth.” — National Post
“An unforgettable depiction of growing up in the new millennium.” — Booklist
“In Holding Still for as Long as Possible, the awareness of mortality intersects with the romantic restlessness of youth. It makes for a story whose vital signs are fully present and robust.” — Toronto Star
“Whittall is a dexterous puppeteer, and the book is unputdownable.” — Globe and Mail
“Whittall creates distinct characters and voices … An enjoyable read that is strong on characters.” — Sacramento Book Review
“Whittall’s writing has a tremendous amount of youthful energy … This is a real Toronto story, set against SARS and fears about terrorism.” — Quill & Quire
“Breathless, jolting, and sputtering with vitality, Holding Still For As Long As Possible explores the inevitable expiry date on lives and relationships, and our white-knuckle struggle to hang on to both.” — Canadian Literature
PRAISE FOR BOTTLE ROCKET HEARTS (2007):
A CBC CANADA READS 2011 TOP 10 SELECTION
WINNER OF THE 2008 DAYNE OGILVIE PRIZE
“The cockiest, brashest, funniest, toughest, most life-affirming, elegant, scruffy, no-holds-barred writer to emerge from Montreal since Mordecai Richler.” — Globe & Mail
“Whittall’s background as a poet shines in every paragraph. Her poetic voice hits hard and with beauty … Gutsy, gritty, urban, and sleek, Bottle Rocket Hearts is a compelling story told by a writer skilled in her craft. It leaves me wanting more.” — Vancouver Sun
“Zoe Whittall’s debut novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts, is an achingly good read, bringing moments of joy to the reader along with heartache and sorrow.” — Calgary Herald
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