The Double Bind

Status: Main Selections
February 2007 -- Barnes & Noble recommends The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian. In this astonishing new 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 her attack.

In his moments of lucidity, the gentle, likable Bobbie alludes to his earlier life as a successful photographer. Laurel finds it hard to believe that this destitute, unstable man could once have chronicled the lives of musicians and celebrities, but a box of photographs and negatives discovered among Bobbie's meager possessions at his death lends credence to his tale. How could such an accomplished man have fallen on such hard times? Becoming obsessed with uncovering Bobbie's past, Laurel studies his photographs, tracking down every lead they provide into the mystery of his life before homelessness-including links to the rich neighborhoods of her own Long Island childhood and to the earlier world of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, with its larger-than-life characters, elusive desires, and haunting sorrows.

In a narrative of dazzling invention, literary ingenuity, and psychological complexity, Bohjalian engages issues of homelessness and mental illness by evoking the humanity that inhabits the core of both. At the same time, his tale is fast-paced and riveting-The Double Bind combines the suspense of a thriller with the emotional depths of the most intimate drama. The breathtaking surprises of its final pages will leave readers stunned, overwhelmed by the poignancy of life's fleeting truths, as caught in Bobbie Crocker's photographs, and in Laurel Estabrook's painful pursuit of Bobbie's past-and her own.

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-07-2009 02:36 PM
Comments
by KatRM67 on ‎05-03-2011 10:17 PM

I read this book last summer and it really was an interesting read.  In high school I read The Great Gatsby so I was familiar with the characters.  It was amazing at first to think of them at real life characters.  The twist in the end was very impactful and I have to say that I really didn't see it coming.  When I finished The Double Bind I went out to my garage and pulled out my high school lit box and dug out my old copy of The Great Gatsby.  I often find what I got out of book as a teenager often changes as an adult.  I have recommended this book to others and we passed it around my office.  It was one of the favorite reads.

 

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