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The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
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The Double Bind (edition 2008)

by Chris Bohjalian

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2,2291552,890 (3.66)106
Member:jayne_charles
Title:The Double Bind
Authors:Chris Bohjalian
Info:Vintage Books / Random House (2008), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, USA, Vermont, rape, homelessness, memory, mental illness

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The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

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English (152)  Spanish (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
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 |
This book completely caught me by surprise. I couldn't put it down... it tells the tale of Laurel, a young woman who was attacked while in college -- an attack that left quite an impression on her. Currently Laurel works for a homeless shelter. When one of her residents dies, her boss gives Laurel (an amateur photographer herself) a box of his photographs. Convinced he was somehow tied to a rich family, quite infamous in Laurel's hometown, she goes on a quest to learn everything she can about the man and his family. The book adds an extra layer as it weaves much The Great Gatsby lore into its own story. ( )
  justacatandabook | Mar 9, 2016 |
This was great! Unfortunately, I guessed the ending about halfway through the book but it still had a twist at the end I wasn't expecting. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
Too much hype, big disappointment, waste of time. I didn't care for any of the characters and probably would have been better authored by a woman. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
Too much hype, big disappointment, waste of time. I didn't care for any of the characters and probably would have been better authored by a woman. ( )
  Judy_Ryfinski | Jan 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chris Bohjalianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Denaker, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Oh, I know who Pauline Kael is," he said. "I wasn't born homeless, you know."
Nick Hornby- A Long Way Down
Dedication
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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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