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The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

The Double Bind

by Chris Bohjalian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
It's really boring and quite different from the summary I had, so it's been hell to actually get through it.
  AnnaBastos | Jun 13, 2017 |
Throughout this entire book, little details frustrated me. Certain bits of dialogue, description, and plot points seemed...off, I guess. The suspense, however, was good; I had to keep reading, even though I spent a lot of time unconvinced I actually liked the book.

Now, without spoiling anything, the ending blew me away. A few plot twists were predictable (one of the frustrating aspects mentioned earlier), but every single issue I had with the novel, plot twists included, were wrapped up seamlessly in an ending that I did not see coming at all. I appreciate Chris Bohjalian and his novel a lot more as a result. It was a well-crafted book.

My one remaining problem with this novel is its rather disturbing content. The book details an attack/attempted rape that horrified me a little bit, and the story line (ending especially), plays with the reader's psyche. It unsettled me, and although I'm sure that appeals to a lot of readers, I didn't like it. ( )
  hungrylittlebookworm | Mar 27, 2017 |
tricky novel — ending the truth about her who she was shocker — but more so what happened to her.

In Chris Bohjalian's astonishing novel, nothing is what it at first seems. Not the bucolic Vermont back roads college sophomore Laurel Estabrook likes to bike. Not the savage assault she suffers toward the end of one of her rides. And certainly not Bobbie Crocker, the elderly man with a history of mental illness whom Laurel comes to know through her work at a Burlington homeless shelter in the years subsequent to the attack.
  christinejoseph | Jan 6, 2017 |
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian; (5*)

This one had me from the beginning. College student, Laurel, who loves to bike in her spare time and for exercise is biking on a back wood road one day when she is come upon by two men in a van who jump out, attempt to drag her off her bike and rape her. Finally other cyclists, hearing her screams, abort the attempt. Laurel is left with a shattered collarbone, a broken finger, her left breast so badly bruised as to take months to heal and so traumatized that she retreats from school, friends, society and returns to her family home on Long Island to recuperate and recover; not to return to school until mid term. The two men are apprehended and sent to prison.
Laurel was raised on Long Island and she and her friends learned to swim, sail, play tennis, etc at the country club which had once been the home of Jay Gatsby and was right across the way from the home of Daisy and Tom Buchanan.
Laurel takes up swimming to replace biking in her life and begins to volunteer at a homeless shelter. After her schooling is completed she goes to work there full time and meets an older gentleman named Bobbie whose most prized possessions are a box of photographs that Laurel deduces he took himself. When Bobbie suddenly passes away the collection of photos is given to Laurel in the hope that she might put together something from them that could raise some money to aid the shelter. Within this collection of photos, among others are snaps of the Gatsby home and pool, the Buchanan home and the Buchanan children. But most puzzling of all is that there are pictures of Laurel biking on that back wood road.
Laurel begins obsessing about these photos. How could this Bobbie have been on that isolated back road at the same time she was and why. Her life begins to focus on Bobbie, his family, and the pictures, even as the people around her struggle to keep her involved in her day to day life.
Laurel's journey through the "photo land" and her search for understanding is the beginning of a novel with twists and turns and at the end leaves you with your mouth open. Bohjalian's skill with the pen is nothing short of a shocking marvel with this novel. His characters are very believable, their manner of reaction and behavior I found to be realistic to the storyline. I don't think this book is for a "day at the beach read". I think it is more of a sit down and get 'er done type of read simply for the fact that I couldn't put it down until my eyes shut. It was interesting, plausible, riveting; everything I like in a novel. It comes highly recommended. ( )
13 vote rainpebble | Oct 15, 2016 |
Audiobook performed by Susan Denaker

From the book jacket When college sophomore Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography and begins to work at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies, Laurel discovers that he was telling the truth; before he was homeless, Bobbie Crocker was a successful photographer. As Laurel’s fascination with Bobbie’s former life begins to merge into obsession, she becomes convinced that some of his photographs reveal a deeply hidden, dark family secret.

My Reaction
Well, this definitely went in a direction I was not expecting! I don’t really want to say much more because I don’t want to give anything away.

Bohjalian crafts a compelling and intricate scenario with layer upon layer of complexity. I loved the way he drew me in, made me believe in Laurel – and Bobbie – and then forced me to reconsider the veracity of their claims. Throughout the work I am intrigued by and sympathetic to both Laurel and Bobbie, and particularly to the former as Bohjalian tells most of the story from Laurel’s perspective. The suspense builds relentlessly in the last five or six chapters, and I’m left breathless and drained at the end. And … wanting to start over again to see what clues Bohjalian left that I missed the first time around.

In the Author’s Note preceding the book, Bohjalian tells how he was inspired to write the novel when a friend shared with him a box of photographs that had been taken by a homeless man, Bob “Soupy” Cmpbell. Some of those extraordinary photos are sprinkled throughout the book.

The audio book is capably performed by Susan Denaker. She has good pacing and really brought Laurel to life for me. I could understand her hurt and confusion and frustration. ( )
  BookConcierge | Aug 9, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chris Bohjalianprimary authorall editionscalculated
Denaker, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Oh, I know who Pauline Kael is," he said. "I wasn't born homeless, you know."
Nick Hornby- A Long Way Down
For Rose Mary Muench and in memory of Frederick Meunch (1929-2004)
First words
Laurel Estabrook was nearly raped the fall of her sophomore year of college.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
After surviving an attack while biking, Vermont college student Laurel Estabrook decides to volunteer at a homeless shelter where she meets Bobbie Cocker, a mentally ill man who claims to have been an established photographer and whose life she becomes infatuated with.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0739341324, Audio CD)

Best known for the provocative and powerful novel, Midwives (an Oprah Book Club® Selection), Chris Bohjalian writes beautiful and riveting fiction featuring what the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed "ordinary people in heartbreaking circumstances behaving with grace and dignity." In his new novel, The Double Bind, a literary thriller with references to (and including characters from) The Great Gatsby, Bohjalian takes readers on a haunting journey through one woman's obsession with uncovering a dark secret. We think Bohjalian fans will be thrilled with this compelling and unforgettable read, but just to be sure, we asked bestselling author Jodi Picoult to read The Double Bind and give us her take. Check out her review below. --Daphne Durham

Guest Reviewer: Jodi Picoult

From the provocative and gut-wrenching The Pact, to the brilliant genre-bending The Tenth Circle, to her latest novel about a high school shooting Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult's riveting novels center on family and relationships, and bring to light questions and issues that remain with a reader long after the last page is turned.

I once heard a fellow novelist call writing "successful schizophrenia"--we invent people and worlds that don't exist; but instead of being medicated, we are paid for it. Although countless novels succeed in whisking the reader away on the heels of such fabrications, there are very few that pull the curtain away from the craft, allowing us inside the mind of a working novelist as he combines reality and fantasy. Chris Bohjalian's The Double Bind is not just one of these; it's the finest example I've ever read of a book that tips its hat to both the beauty of the literary creation, as well as the magical act of creating.

Fact and fiction become indistinguishable in The Double Bind: The story centers on Laurel Estabrook, a young social worker and survivor of a near-rape, who stumbles across photographs taken by a formerly homeless client and tries to understand how a man who'd taken snapshots of celebrities in the 50s and 60s might have wound up on the streets. However, an author's note tells us that Bohjalian conceived this book after being shown a batch of old photographs taken by a once-homeless man; and the actual photos of Bob "Soupy" Campbell are peppered throughout the text. In another neat twist, Bohjalian's resurrects details from The Great Gatsby, which become "real" in the context of his own novel--Laurel lives in West Egg; part of her hunt for her photographer's past involves meeting with the descendants of Daisy and Tom Buchanan.

As a writer who counts The Great Gatsby as one of the books that changed her life, this inclusion was both startling and remarkable for me. Who doesn't want one's favorite characters to come to life--even if it's only within the constraints of another fictional work? But Bohjalian chose his text wisely: no discussion of The Great Gatsby is complete without alluding to missed opportunities and unreliable sources--critical elements in Laurel's quest. And therein lies Bohjalian's true double bind: all stories--even the ones we tell ourselves--are subject to our own interpretation, and to the degree we can make others believe them.

The Double Bind may flirt with the classics, but it's not your father's stuffy old tome: it's the sort of book you want to read in one sitting, and it packs a twist at the end that will leave you speechless. It also, worthily, spotlights the cause of homelessness in a way that isn't preachy, but honest and explanatory. Ultimately, what Bohjalian's done is offer his lucky readers another reminder of why he's such an extraordinary author: by creating characters that become so real we lose the distinction between truth and embellishment; by reminding us that the story of any life--whether fictional, functional, or marginal--is one to be savored. --Jodi Picoult

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Working at a homeless shelter, Laurel Estabrook encounters Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of secret photos, but when Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel embarks on an obsessive search for the truth behind the photos.

» see all 6 descriptions

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