The Double Bind

The Double Bind

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Throughout his career, Chris Bohjalian has earned a reputation for writing novels that examine some of the most important issues of our time. With Midwives, he explored the literal and metaphoric place of birth in our culture. In The Buffalo Soldier, he introduced us to one of contemporary literature's most beloved foster children. And in Before You Know Kindness, he plumbed animal rights, gun control, and what it means to be a parent. Chris Bohjalian's riveting fiction keeps us awake deep into the night. As The New York Times has said, "Few writers can manipulate a plot with Bohjalian's grace and power." Now he is back with an ambitious new novel that travels between Jay Gatsby's Long Island and rural New England, between the Roaring Twenties and the twenty-first century.

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 that he won't let anyone see. When Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel discovers that he was telling the truth: before he was homeless, Bobbie Crocker was a successful photographer who had indeed worked with such legends as Chuck Berry, Robert Frost, and Eartha Kitt. 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. Her search for the truth will lead her further from her old life -- and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her.

In this spellbinding literary thriller, rich with complex and compelling characters -- including Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan -- Chris Bohjalian takes readers on his most intriguing, most haunting, and most unforgettable journey yet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781415935798
Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
Publication date: 01/01/2007
Edition description: Unabridged

About the Author

CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the author of twenty books, including The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; The Double Bind; and Midwives which was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club. Chris's work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). Chris lives in Vermont and can be found at or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads.


Lincoln, Vermont

Date of Birth:

August 12, 1961

Place of Birth:

White Plains, New York


Amherst College

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The Double Bind

By Chris Bohjalian

Random House

Chris Bohjalian

All right reserved.

ISBN: 1400047463

Chapter One


Laurel Estabrook was nearly raped the fall of her sophomore year of college. Quite likely she was nearly murdered that autumn. This was no date-rape disaster with a handsome, entitled UVM frat boy after the two of them had spent too much time flirting beside the bulbous steel of a beer keg; this was one of those violent, sinister attacks involving masked men–yes, men, plural, and they actually were wearing wool ski masks that shielded all but their eyes and the snarling rifts of their mouths–that one presumes only happens to other women in distant states. To victims whose faces appear on the morning news programs, and whose devastated, forever-wrecked mothers are interviewed by strikingly beautiful anchorwomen. She was biking on a wooded dirt road twenty miles northeast of the college in a town with a name that was both ominous and oxy-moronic: Underhill. In all fairness, the girl did not find the name Underhill menacing before she was assaulted. But she also did not return there for any reason in the years after the attack. It was somewhere around six-thirty on a Sunday evening, and this was the third Sunday in a row that she had packed her well-traveled mountain bike into the back of her roommate Talia's station wagon and driven to Underhill to ride for miles and miles along the logging roads that snaked through the nearby forest. At the time, it struck heras beautiful country: a fairy-tale wood more Lewis than Grimm, the maples not yet the color of claret. It was all new growth, a third-generation tangle of maple and oak and ash, the remnants of stone walls still visible in the understory not far from the paths. It was nothing like the Long Island suburbs where she had grown up, a world of expensive homes with manicured lawns only blocks from a long neon-lit swath of fast-food restaurants, foreign car dealers, and weight-loss clinics in strip malls.

After the attack, of course, her memories of that patch of Vermont woods were transformed, just as the name of the nearby town gained a different, darker resonance. Later, when she recalled those roads and hills– some seeming too steep to bike, but bike them she did– she would think instead of the washboard ruts that had jangled her body and her overriding sense that the great canopy of leaves from the trees shielded too much of the view and made the woods too thick to be pretty. Sometimes, even many years later, when she would be trying to fight her way to sleep through the flurries of wakefulness, she would see those woods after the leaves had fallen, and visualize only the long finger grips of the skeletal birches.

By six-thirty that evening the sun had just about set and the air was growing moist and chilly. But she wasn't worried about the dark because she had parked her friend's wagon in a gravel pull-off beside a paved road that was no more than three miles distant. There was a house beside the pull-off with a single window above an attached garage, a Cyclops visage in shingle and glass. She would be there in ten or fifteen minutes, and as she rode she was aware of the thick-lipped whistle of the breeze in the trees. She was wearing a pair of black bike shorts and a jersey with an image of a yellow tequila bottle that looked phosphorescent printed on the front. She didn't feel especially vulnerable. She felt, if anything, lithe and athletic and strong. She was nineteen.

Then a brown van passed her. Not a minivan, a real van. The sort of van that, when harmless, is filled with plumbing and electrical supplies, and when not harmless is packed with the deviant accoutrements of serial rapists and violent killers. Its only windows were small portholes high above the rear tires, and she had noticed as it passed that the window on the passenger side had been curtained off with black fabric. When the van stopped with a sudden squeal forty yards ahead of her, she knew enough to be scared. How could she not? She had grown up on Long Island– once a dinosaur swampland at the edge of a towering range of mountains, now a giant sandbar in the shape of a salmon– the almost preternaturally strange petri dish that spawned Joel Rifkin (serial killer of seventeen women), Colin Ferguson (the LIRR slaughter), Cheryl Pierson (arranged to have her high school classmate murder her father), Richard Angelo (Good Samaritan Hospital's Angel of Death), Robert Golub (mutilated a thirteen-year-old neighbor), George Wilson (shot Jay Gatsby as he floated aimlessly in his swimming pool), John Esposito (imprisoned a ten-year-old girl in his dungeon), and Ronald DeFeo (slaughtered his family in Amityville).

In truth, even if she hadn't grown up in West Egg she would have known enough to be scared when the van stopped on the lonely road directly before her. Any young woman would have felt the hairs rise up on the back of her neck. Unfortunately, the van had come to a stop so abruptly that she couldn't turn around because the road was narrow and she used a clipless pedal system when she rode: This meant that she was linked by a metal cleat in the sole of each cycling shoe to her pedals. She would have needed to snap her feet free, stop, and put a toe down to pivot as she swiveled her bike 180 degrees. And before she could do any of that two men jumped out, one from the driver's side and one from the passenger's, and they both had those intimidating masks shielding their faces: a very bad sign indeed in late September, even in the faux tundra of northern Vermont.

And so with a desperate burst of adrenaline she tried to pedal past them. She hadn't a prayer. One of them grabbed her around her shoulders as she tried to race by, while the other was hoisting her (and her bicycle) off the ground by her waist. They were, essentially, tackling her as if she were a running back and they were a pair of defensive linemen who had reached her in the backfield. She screamed– shrill, girlish, desperate screams that conveyed both her vulnerability and her youth– at the same time that a part of her mind focused analytically on what might have been the most salient feature of her predicament: She was still locked by her shoes to her bike and she had to remain that way at all costs, while holding on fast to the handlebars. This alone might keep her off the sides of Vermont milk cartons and the front pages of the Vermont newspapers. Why? Because she realized that she couldn't possibly overpower her assailants–even her hair was lanky and thin–but if they couldn't pry her from the bicycle it would be that much more difficult to cart her into the deep woods or throw her into the back of their van.

At one point the more muscular of the two, a thug who smelled like a gym– not malodorous, not sweaty, but metallic like weights– tried to punch her in the face, but she must have ducked because he slammed his fist into the edge of her helmet and swore. His eyes beneath his mask were the icy gray of the sky in November, and around each wrist she saw a coil of barbed wire had been tattooed like a bracelet. He yelled for his partner– who had a tattoo, as well, a skull with improbable ears (sharp ears, a wolf's) and long wisps of smoke snaking up from between the fangs in its mouth– to put the god-damn bike down so he could rip her foot from the cleat. Briefly, she considered releasing her foot herself so she could kick him with the hard point of her bike shoe. But she didn't. Thank God. She kept her foot pointing straight ahead, the metal clip in the sole snapped tightly into the pedal. He tried yanking at her ankle, but he knew nothing about cleats and so he wasn't precisely sure how to twist her foot. Frustrated, he threatened to break her ankle, while his partner began trying to wrench her thumb and fingers from the handlebars. But she held on, all the while continuing to scream with the conviction that she was screaming for her life– which, clearly, she was.

Meanwhile, they called her a cunt. In the space of moments– not minutes, but maybe– they called her a cunt, a twat, a pussy, a gash. A fucking cunt. A stupid cunt. A teasing cunt. Fish cunt. Slut cunt. Dead cunt. You dead cunt. No verb. Even the words were violent, though initially three sounded to her less about the hate and the anger and the derision: Those words were spoken (not shouted) with a leer by the thinner of the pair, an inside joke between the two of them, and it was only after he had repeated them did she understand it was not three words she was hearing but two. It was a made-up brand name, a noun, a flavor at her expense. He had reduced her vagina to an aperitif on the mistaken assumption that there could possibly be even a trace of precoital wetness lubricating her now. Liqueur Snatch. That was the joke. Get it, get it? Not lick her snatch. A French cordial instead. But the joke elicited nothing from his partner, no reaction at all, because this was only about his unfathomable hatred for her. What therapists call that moment of arousal? For all Laurel knew, it would come for him the moment she died. The moment they killed her.

Finally, they threw her and her bicycle onto the ground. For a split second she thought they had given up. They hadn't. They started to drag her by her bicycle tires as if she and the bike were a single creature, a dead deer they were hauling by its legs from the woods. They were dragging her to the van, her right elbow and knee scraping along the dirt road, intending to throw her–bicycle and all–into the back.

But they couldn't, and this, too, is probably a reason why she survived. They had so much gym equipment crammed into the rear of the vehicle that they couldn't fit her inside it while she was attached to her bike. She glimpsed discus-shaped weights and benches and metal bars when they lifted her up, and what looked like the vertical components of a Nautilus machine. And so they tossed her back down onto the hard dirt while they made room for her in the van, shattering her collarbone and leaving a bruise on her left breast that wouldn't heal completely for months. She felt daggers of pain so pronounced that she was instantly nauseous, and it was only adrenaline that kept her from vomiting. Still, she continued to grasp the bicycle's handlebars and keep her feet locked to its pedals. One of the men barked at her not to move, which, for a variety of reasons, wasn't an option: She wasn't about to let go of the bike, and with a broken collarbone it was highly unlikely that she could have managed to release her feet, stand up, and ride away in anything less than half an hour.

How long did she lie there like that? Ten seconds? Fifteen? It probably wasn't even half a minute. Her assailants saw the other cyclists before she did. There, approaching them down the road, were three vigorous bikers who, it would turn out, were male lawyers from Underhill on their way home after a daylong seventy-five-mile sojourn into the Mad River Valley and back. They were on road bikes, and when they heard Laurel screaming they stood up on their pedals and started streaking toward the van. It was the sort of into-the-fire valor that is uncommon these days. But what choice had they? Leave her to be abducted or killed? How could any person do that? And so they rode forward, and the two men raced into the front cab and slammed shut the doors. She thought they were going to drive away. They would, but not instantly. First they spun the van into reverse, trying to run her over and kill her. Leave her for dead. But she was, fortunately, not directly behind the vehicle. They had dropped her just far enough to the side that even clipped in she was able to claw the foot or foot and a half away that she needed to save her life. They ran over and mangled both bicycle wheels and bruised her left foot. But her bike shoe and the bicycle's front fork probably spared it from being crushed. Then the men sped off, the vehicle's wheels kicking small stones into her face and her eyes, while the exhaust momentarily left her choking.

When she was able to breathe again, she finally threw up. She was sobbing, she was bleeding, she was filthy. She was an altogether most pathetic little victim: a girl trapped on the ground in her cleats like a turtle who has wound up on its back in its shell. She would realize later that one of her attackers had broken her left index finger at some point as he had tried to force her to loosen her grip.

Gingerly, the lawyers turned her ankles so she could release herself from her pedals and then helped her gently to her feet. The van was long gone, but Laurel had memorized the license plate and within hours the men were apprehended. One of them worked with bodybuilders at some hard-core weight-lifting club in Colchester. He didn't live far from where she had parked, and he had followed her the week before. When he realized that the Jetta wagon with the girl with the yellow hair that fell out the back of her helmet had returned, he saw his chance. Laurel was the first woman he had tried to rape in Vermont, but he had done this before in Washington and Idaho before coming east, and he had slashed the wrists of a schoolteacher on her morning jog in Montana and left her to bleed to death in a field of winter wheat. He had left her tied to a barbed-wire fence, and the tattoos on his wrists– like many a tattoo– was a commemoration. A piece of art that he wore like a cherished memento.

His partner, apparently, hadn't had any idea that his new friend was a murderer: He was a drifter who had come to Vermont and presumed now they were merely going to have a little fun together at the expense of some young female bicyclist.

Afterward, Laurel went home to Long Island to recover, and she didn't return to college in Vermont until January. The spring semester. She took courses the following summer to catch up– she was in Burlington that July anyway for her assailants' trials– and by the autumn she was back on the same schedule with the rest of her classmates and would graduate with them in a couple of Junes. Still, the trials had been difficult for her. They had been brief, but there had been two to endure. It was the first time she had been back in the presence of either of her assailants since the attack, and the first time she had studied their faces in the flesh. The drifter, who would dramatically reduce his sentence by testifying against the bodybuilder, had pale skin the color of cooked fish and a nut-brown goatee that elongated a face already tending toward horsey. His hair was completely gone on top and what remained was gray mixed in with the brown of his small beard. Even though it was the summer, he wore a shirt with a high collar to hide his tattoo. A part of his defense was the contention that he had dropped acid before the attack and wasn't in his right mind.


Excerpted from The Double Bind
by Chris Bohjalian Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Gregory Maguire

From the Author of Wicked and Son of a Witch:
A mystery anchored in sorrow, a harrowing and even haunting tale of literary influence, delusion, intervention. Chris Bohjalian has done it again.

Reading Group Guide

Questions for Discussion

1. The Double Bind was inspired by the photographs of Bob "Soupy" Campbell, who, as Chris Bohjalian explains in his Author's Note, "had gone from photographing luminaries from the 1950s and 1960s to winding up at a homeless shelter in northern Vermont." While the novel's character, Bobbie Crocker, is entirely fictitious, the photographs in The Double Bind are Campbell's actual work. What do they add to the narrative?

2. Discuss the book's treatment of homelessness. Did The Double Bind change your thoughts and views on the plight of the homeless in America? If so, how?

3. Bohjalian seamlessly meshes the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby with that of his own novel. Did you recognize elements of Fitzgerald's fiction as you read The Double Bind? Did you find the appearance of characters from another work of fiction intriguing?

4. Why does Bohjalian connect his novel to The Great Gatsby? What themes does Fitzgerald's novel share with The Double Bind? What influence does the past exert on the characters in both novels?

5. In what ways is Dan Corbett's tattoo in The Double Bind reminiscent of the billboard that overlooks the Valley of Ashes in The Great Gatsby? Is there other imagery in the novel that echoes Fitzgerald's symbolism?

6. We learn from Laurel that the phrase "double bind" refers to Gregory Bateson's theory that "a particular brand of bad parenting could inadvertently spawn schizophrenia." What else might the title of the book refer to?

7. Why do you think Laurel, as the author writes, allowed Talia to "remain a part of her life when she consciously exiled herself from the rest of the herd"?

8. How does Laurel's imagined life for Bobbie reflect her own preoccupations, problems, and needs?

9. The Double Bind ends with a shocking revelation. Did you see clues to this development earlier in the story? Did you find yourself reviewing the novel or rereading it to search for them?

Further Reading: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

Customer Reviews

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The Double Bind 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 499 reviews.
iowagirlLB More than 1 year ago
I could not wait until I was done reading this book, because I really did not enjoy it at all. I have read waaaay too many Jodie Picoult books (no more) to ever be surprised by the standard surprise ending again. The Gatsby story threw me for awhile, but the periodic interjection of notes from the state mental hospital made the ending a dead giveaway...the meticulous avoidance of the patient's gender made the patient's identity completely obvious.

I also felt the ending was a disappointment...we heard all of the details of the incident (too many, if you ask me) via the attacker's apology letter, which was much too contrived to be believable...the sole purpose seemed to be to explain the attack to the reader. Then more doctor's notes, followed by nothing. The characters were missing the depth to really make me care.
FeltSilly More than 1 year ago
As I was reading this book I thought I had it all figured out and was prematurely disappointed in the predictability of the plot. There seemed to be too many unlikely coincidences and an obvious set up. Well I fell for the set up but not the one I was dreading. The last chapter was the twist I had hoped for! Now I have to start it over to go through the story with my new perspective. I definitely recommend this book to others.
paul-pro More than 1 year ago
Takes a real look at PTSD occurring outside of a war zone. A real look at how trauma can affect all people.
gr8bookworm More than 1 year ago
This book provided great entertainment with a twist in the plot that made me want to re-read it after I had finished. Great entertainment! Reminded me of some of the old Hitchcock movies that had dramatic twists and turns. Highly readable, highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a women named Laurel, who at the beggining of the book was brutally attacked by some men, while she was out on a routine bike ride. After this attack, she wanted noting to do with Biking, so she started swimming. She got heavily involved with a program called BEDS, this program helps the homeless find homes. Through this program, she meets Bobbie Crocker. When he dies, he leaves a box of photos, and Laurel sorts through them and tries to find the meaning of each of them. through this, she becomes so consumed by them, and it starts to lead to some problems. i really liked this book, because everyone has problems that they face in their lives. this book has twists and turns, and there is a whacky ending. but in the end i reccomend this book, it will make you want to keep reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the opening page to the end, I had difficulty putting this book down. It started out with a woman being attacked in late September in Vermont. I froze as I read that as I too had been attacked on the last day of September in Vermont - and the same year as the woman in the book. The references to Waterbury State Hospital had relevance as well as my assailant to this day is the lock-up ward at Waterbury State Hospital. Even with the weird similarities - not many people get attacked in Vermont - the book was a definite page-turner for me and the ending was, well let's just say it was quite a surprise. I loaned The Double Bind to two friends who also truly loved the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While reading this novel, I started to feel delusional myself - thinking I was supposed to enjoy reading a great book, but in reality, I suffered for hours upon hours reading a terrible book. And with a bit of glee, I was at the final chapter - hopeful the worst was over. Ironically, the ending was the worst part.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Double Bind! I was determined not to read it at a single sitting, but just could not put it down. Fast paced, riveting, wonderful characters!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book that combined The Great Gatsby with a surprise ending. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Double Bind is an okay book. It was very good in the begining and most way through the book, but towards the end it got very confusing. I would recommend this book to people who pay attention to details and like mysteries. However, i would not recommend this book to anyone who gets lost easily, or to people who do not like surprise endings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. There were so many different componets the author worked into the book, that by the end I was speechless. There was a lot of foreshadowing in the book. To be honest, the ending of the book frustrated me. I did not see it coming and it hit me like homerun baseball. It was a mystery and adventure at the same time and I really enjoyed that. It was almost like a crime scene and I found myself trying to plan what would happen next. Over all, it was a decent book.
Gen15 More than 1 year ago
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. With all the mystery, it kept me engrossed within the pages each time I read. Each chapter presented new clues and information that kept me guessing until the very last chapter. After finishing the book and finding out everything, I can look back now and observe that the author's foreshadowing was very obvious. The twist at the end really caught me by surprise. However, it was definitely a pleasant surprise. it fit the style of the book to a tee.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book 20 minutes ago, and I'm a bit on the fence about what I thought of it. For whatever reason, I realized about a third of the way into the book what was going on. The ending didn't match my suspicions entirely, but it was close enough and I was not the least bit surprised (which greatly reduced the magic of the book for me). I believe my foreknowledge was due to either a) One of my favorite books has a very similar ending, and I was able to spot the "truth" simply because I happen to have read this other book, or b) The story was transparent and anyone could easily guess what was going on well before reaching the end. I'm not quite sure which of the above applies. Nevertheless, this book is thought-provoking and informative, with likable main characters. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I feel that I should have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the big hype this book received, I purchased another by the author at the same time. After reading this one, I won't read the other. This story should have been packaged very differently--if packaged at all. It was definitely pitched to the wrong audience. I rarely review books I don't recommend, but in this case, I felt genuinely ripped off. I was disappointed by the choppy style, disenchanted with the many poorly drawn characters and jarred by mediocre writing interspersed with literary phrases. The literary descriptions were great, but didn't flow with the adjoining text. If the effort was intentional--to match the thinking pattern of the mentally ill--the experiment was a failure for this reader and came off as merely bad writing. I'm game for an unusual story, but never appreciate being 'knifed in the back' by an author. I had low expectations for the ending, but they weren't low enough. It was awful. I recommend this book only to aspiring writers who want to learn what alienates a reader.
stillwaters12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
***1/2 Laurel, a college sophomore, is on a bike ride when attacked by two men. Two male cyclists appear and save her life. She takes a job at a homeless shelter and befriends one of the men the shelter is able to find housing for. When he dies, Laurel learns he left his only known possession to her- a box of photographs he had long referenced but few believed he possessed. A great mystery starts as Laurel does research to credit the man, Bobbie Crocker, as the gifted photographer he was. Slow overall but a very good read!
RochelleBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is not what it appears to be on the surface and has a great twist at the end.
LynnSigman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great twist at the end!
bigorangemichael on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm often asked by friends to recommend a book. Whenever I'm asked this, I'm flattered to do so and happy to make a recommendation. Because of this, I tend to keep a mental list of good books to recommend to friends if the question comes up.I've got a new one to add to that list. "The Double Bind" by Chris Bojhalian.If you've not read it, I highly recommend. I also recommend going into the book completely unaware of any thing more than the dust jacket blurb will tell you.That said, this is one of those book that will be hard to talk about without addressing the plot twists and revelations that come in the final fifty or so pages. I will try to keep those comments to a minimum until later in this post and I'll try to warn you again when I'm getting into huge spoiler territory."The Double Bind" starts out on a quiet country rode with our protagonist, Laurel, out for a Sunday afternoon bicycle ride. She is met by two men who jump out of a van and attempt to assualt her. Laurel escapes the ordeal with some broken bones because of the clips on her pedals and her holding onto to the bike for dear life.The novel starts off with this brutal attack and then moves forward seven years. Laurel now works as an advocate for the homeless at a local program. In the course of her duties, she meets Charlie. Charlie passes away, leaving behind a box full of old photographs and negatives. Because of her interest in photography, Lauren is asked to look into the photos and see if they might be used to create an exhibit to honor Charlie's life and bring some publicity to the group she works for.What follows is a slow spiral into obsession as Laurel becomes obsessed with putting together the pieces from the photos and discovering who Charlie was. And also, she wants to know why he has a a photo that appears to be her riding along the road where she was attacked.Interestingly, Bojahalan incoroprates elements from F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" in this novel. As Laurel investigates, she finds that Charlie might be the son of the infamous Jay Gatsby from the novel.OK, now is the point at which if you haven't read the story, you should turn back or stop reading.At first, I was skeptical about the incorporation of elements of Gatsby into this story. To make the character from that story part of the real world of this novel seemed a bit of a stretch at first and it slowly began to make me have my doubts as the novel progressed. However, once it's revealed that this is a world Laurel has created for herself in an attempt to create meaning to the horrible attack she endured seven years before, it all makes sense.In the last few pages of the novel, we discover that Laurel didn't escape attack. She was raped and brutally so--three times. Two by one man, one by the other. They savaged her and left her bleeding and for dead on the road side. Laurel convinced herself that she'd escaped attack by hanging onto the bike and being clipped in, but it wasn't true. This manifests itself in her refusal to ride a bicycle any more after the attack--seeing the bicycle as her savior, but also knowing deep down what has happened and not wanting to deal with it.As it turns out, Laurel had a pyschotic break. She invents her own reality and is obsessed with the Gatsby novel. She creates or fills in entire bits of conversation in her head to fuel this obession and descent into delusion.But yet, that's not the biggest "holy cow" moment of the last few pages.Part of the aftermath of the attack is that Laurel has an attraction to older men. She is dating one in the book, who has two daughters. One is the beautiful one who wants to act and is everything you think a typical girl of that age should be. The other is awkward, not as beautiful and show as having a bit of a socially awkward relationship with the world. She is less concerned with what people think, even wearing a Junior Mint on her ear and claiming it's an earring.In the final pages of the novel, we learn there we
bearette24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Double Bind is about Laurel, a young woman who survived a violent rape attempt in college and is now, at 26, working at a homeless shelter in Vermont. Her shelter places one man in a home, and when he dies, his photography collection is discovered. It includes photos of many luminaries, and even a shot of Laurel herself...on the day she was assaulted. Laurel is gripped by the coincidence, and starts following a trail of clues to connect the man to her attack...and also, strangely enough, to the characters from The Great Gatsby, who appear real within the context of the novel.I liked this book much better than I expected to. I knew that many people thought the twist at the end was a disappointment.I read this book in less than 24 hours...I just had to see what would happen and why the Gatsby folks were characters in the story. I did find the ending a little unsatisfying...I almost wanted it to go on longer so I could see what would happen to the protagonist now that I knew more about her.I also thought his writing was much better than it has been lately. It was crisp with lots of energy, and the supporting characters were fully drawn.
brianinbuffalo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read in a decade that totally redeemed itself in the last 20 or so pages. While the story had enough intrigue to keep me reading, I did it with some effort. Perhaps it was the Gatsby tie. This was one "classic" that never quite resonated with me.But to Bohjalian's credit, the book comes together beautifully in the end. I'm glad I gave it a chance.
NativeRoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable mystery that refers to The Great Gatsby. It brought to mind themes from I Never Promised You a Rose Garden as well as Hannibal. Well-crafted and recommended.
momom248 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this book and did not see the ending coming, but it did leave me with a lot of questions which are really stil unanswered. Laurel was a character that really annoyed me most of the book. I guess I gained sympathy for her near the end.
TheBookLady on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Double Bind offers an interesting read for those who are a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald¿s The Great Gatsby. Chris Bohjalain freshens-up the old classic and puts interesting new twists on a story that since its publication has become synonymous with American culture. Bohjalain¿s evocation of Daisy Buchanan, James Gatsby, the Hampton¿s East and West Egg and the mysterious cloud of status and culture that shrouds society is, however, about the only innovative element the novel possesses. The author does throw a gripping finale on to the end of the novel, but even there the reader feels embarrassingly cheated since Bohjalain withholds crucial information for the reader to independently arrive the same conclusion. With more honesty on the part of the author, the shock of the last few pages would quickly deflate to blasé predictability. Still, for the reader who does not mind being dealt only a partial hand, the novel is a quick and entertaining read. It offers a broad set of discussion points, from mental illness, to homelessness, to post-traumatic stress disorder, to photography. On a positive note; it is a book that can appeal to a wide audience. But while The Double Bind draws a number of readers, it does not ask much of them. Bohjalian oversimplifies his characters¿ emotions at times and over-dramatizes them at others, as if the reader is too unintelligent to pick up subtle nuances. The plot, which at first feels rich in references to a beloved literary classic, fails miserably by the end of the novel. In effect, Bohjalain spends page after page inflating what promises to be an impressive balloon of storytelling, only to pop it unceremoniously with adisappointing ending.
gbirm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're a woman and you want to enjoy time alone in or near the woods again, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!
melopher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was all about the shocker ending, the major twist that makes you rethink the book after you've finished reading it. I read it because I liked his book Midwives. I thought the plot and the tie-in with The Great Gatsby were very good, but the writing was--on different levels--not supportive of this great premise. The characters were rather 2-dimensional, (even allowing for how the twist at the end might have affected that,) the setting seemed to rely more on the places being familiar than well described, the dialog was somewhat stilted, and much of the introduction and description of the characters was simply confusing. There were many parts of the book that were written in the 3rd POV of one of the supporting characters that no longer really made sense after the twist at the end. All that being said, it only took me a day or so to read and it wasn't completely void of entertainment value...just a little below average reading in my opinion.