This powerful book is about rape culture. George, a revered high school teacher, is accused of sexual misconduct and attempted rape; the complainants are 12-14 year-old school girls. George then recedes into the background as the book vividly details the collateral damage to his family who want to be supportive of a good husband/father but powerful emotions like guilt over suspicion, anger and confusion are inevitably present. Feelings of powerlessness are described evocatively. The consequences of living in a small judgemental town with attendant lies and betrayal is another vivid characteristic in this fine novel (Giller nominee). In fact, the verdict delivered by the end of the book is inconsequential: lives have been changed irrevocably.
Another book from the CBC list; also Whittall was at a Walrus Talks panel discussion at Blue Metropolis. This is a relationship book about 20-somethings that is not preoccupied by drugs. Notably, there is a central trans-gender character, and this characteristic is treated without emphasis, just as it should be.