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The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

The Double Bind (edition 2008)

by Chris Bohjalian

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2,1081443,119 (3.65)98
Title:The Double Bind
Authors:Chris Bohjalian
Info:Vintage Books / Random House (2008), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, USA, Vermont, rape, homelessness, memory, mental illness

Work details

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

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Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
This was an interesting story of a young woman, Laurel, who was traumatized after being attacked by 2 men but eventually was able to move on with her life and finish college, get a job. Seven years later, as a social worker helping homeless people find homes and jobs, she helps an old man named Bobby. When he dies sometime later, her boss asks Laurel to go through a box of photos that he left behind and see what she can find out about them. She becomes completely engrossed in understanding the photos, Bobby's life and how they may relate to her.

The story of Laurel and what happened when she was attacked and how it seems to be related to Bobby's photos is developed and revealed slowly. The writing is straightforward and understated but it kept me interested and wondering what Laurel was going to find out next. There's a twist at the end that I have mixed feelings about but overall I liked it. ( )
  gaylebutz | Jan 15, 2015 |
Cited in So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan; recommended by Linda Dyndiuk.
  JennyArch | Nov 3, 2014 |
This is a beautifully written, layered novel that touches on a number of important social issues homelessness, mental illness and violent sexual crimes.

This is the sort of book that does not leave you after the last page is read. It lingers. It evokes new thoughts and new realizations.

I love Bohjalian's storytelling! ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
This is a beautifully written, layered novel that touches on a number of important social issues homelessness, mental illness and violent sexual crimes.

This is the sort of book that does not leave you after the last page is read. It lingers. It evokes new thoughts and new realizations.

I love Bohjalian's storytelling! ( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Read this for book club and loved it. I kept seeing images from the movie Gatsby movie in my head as I read, kind of historical fiction about fiction. I've read his book Midwives and was engrossed in that one too. ( )
  EllenH | Mar 16, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chris Bohjalianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:49 -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)

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