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The Double Bind

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,695 Ratings  ·  3,341 Reviews
A Selection of Barnes & Noble Recommends

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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Crown (first published January 1st 2007)
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingMy Sister's Keeper by Jodi PicoultAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingThe Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Best Twists
87th out of 2,297 books — 4,618 voters
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70th out of 231 books — 704 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jonna Rubin
May 04, 2008 Jonna Rubin rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one. Ever.
Offensively bad. Poorly written and/or poorly edited -- likely both -- oh dear crap, it was awful. Overwritten. Stupid. Carelessly written. Used the word "dowager" at least five hundred times -- so much that I laughed out loud and wished I'd made a drinking game of it. And it was UNNECESSARY. Who edited this? Who allowed "epoxied" to stand in for "glued" three times on three consecutive pages in totally needless contexts? Who greenlighted "dowager" so many damn times? Who decided to refer to Lau ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
3 stars Tough one to describe - you've got a rape victim, the mystery surrounding a homeless man and "The Great Gatsby" all mixed in...mental illness a big part of it and there’s this weird blurring of reality and fiction, guess I’ll tag it physiological suspense. A survival mechanism, we all do it, avoid confronting problems by throwing our energy into just about anything else - ah the tantalizing lure of distraction.
Physically healed but with psychological wounds to painful to confront “Som
Oct 07, 2011 Jessica rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I really wanted to like this book, as I found the premise fascinating. The execution, though, was so weak that it was almost unbearable to force my way through the entire book.

The story centers on Laurel, who survived a brutal attack as a young college student. She graduates from college, dates older men, and works at a homeless shelter, where she comes across a man named Bobbie, who carries with him a mysterious box of photographs. Laurel becomes obsessed with the photographs and with figuring
B the BookAddict
May 19, 2016 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction

Bohjalian has written a dizzying portrayal of a young social worker, Laurel, searching for the truth behind the life of one of the homeless men she meets at the shelter where she works in Burlington. After his death, she finds his beloved cache of photographs that leads her to suspect that Bobbie Crocker was, in fact, Bobbie Buchanan, son of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Reaching out to the one remaining Buchanan, Pamela - Bobbie’s sister, she finds herself, and the shelter she works for, embroiled in
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie Petersen
Sep 01, 2008 Debbie Petersen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2008 Kate rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2007 Jaime rated it really liked it
Shelves: general_fiction, 2007
The first thing I did before I started this book was head to Wikipedia and read a summary of The Great Gatsby, since it’s been 12+ years since I read it, and it’s really an integral part of this book. I recommend that to anyone who picks this up.

I often start thinking about what I’m going to say about a book before I finish it. As I neared the end of this, my thoughts were “this wasn’t as good as Midwives or Water Witches“. Then, Bohjalian gives you a very M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist that com
Jun 24, 2008 Stacey rated it it was ok
This is a very creative premise but egregiously flawed. Most of this book chronicles an investigation that the main character is conducting that links an old box of photos with a homeless man, her own troubled past, and The Great Gatsby. She was a lot more interested in where this all was leading than I was. I was sort of lazily interested in the Gatsby thread because I just read it, but the rest of it was so repetitive and tiresome I could only read 5-10 pages at a time. I did not like the main ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Nick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
If you were to write a book with the same themes as The Great Gatsby, but set it today, what would it look like? What archetypes would you pick to represent the lost, lonely people? The man who tries to live the American dream but at the end finds himself staring at the light he can never reach? The woman who tells herself stories about who she is and how she got where she was only to help avoid the truth of the horror of her life? The death of the American Dream, and its salvation in the ordina ...more
Dec 11, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Although I am familiar with Chris Bohjalian, the title caught my eye. I was told (by an editor who recently read about 80 pages of my novel--in-progress), that the mother of my POV character was a classic case of the Double Bind personality. I had not heard of this before. (Google it to discover what it is -- or read this book!) In part, the editor was correct, but, of course, not having read the whole book, she couldn't make a definite assessment. It was helpful, though. As was this book -- in ...more
Sep 30, 2008 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book Clubs, M. Night Shyamalan fans, Jodi Picoult fans
Shelves: fiction, own-it
I would highly recommend this book to all book clubbers out there, because after you read it, you just want to talk to someone else who's read it. Kind of like after seeing the movie the Sixth Sense. There is a prerequisite that comes with this novel and that is to read or re-read The Great Gatsby. This is a must in order to understand all the references and parallels with Fitzgerald's novel. Bohjalian brings the characters from The Great Gatsby to life.
From reading the other reviews of The Dou
Jan 09, 2015 Elyse rated it it was amazing
I just noticed I didn't write a review on "The Double Bind"....

How did that happen? I must have either read it before I joined Goodreads --or was such a 'newbie-Goodreads' member --I just didn't write reviews yet.

I've told dozens of people to read this. I've bought this book as a gift several times ---its THAT GOOD!!! Completely unforgettable --

I 'could' write much more about this story --but some books are best knowing very little about --and just trusting you'll have an 'extraordinary' reading
Nov 10, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
I am absolutely stunned!! This book was amazing. I was immediately drawn in and intrigued from the start of it. I have worked in psychiatry as a registered nurse as well as enjoy reading books about mental health, so this book was right up my alley. I have read The Great Gatsby, and I think because I have read that, I was able to get so much more out of reading this one.
Mar 15, 2008 Maggi rated it did not like it
This is the sixth book of Chris Bohjalian I have read, and I found the others to be quite good. Perhaps his prose wasn't as gorgeous as some writers, but his stories were gripping, and I turned the pages quickly, (which, if you think about it, is the main reason we want to read a book!). Tran-sister Radio was fascinating and sensitive. I read The Law of Similars in a weekend. Before You Know Kindness was complex and compelling. But despite the pull of the mysteriously wonderful photos that seem ...more
Dec 15, 2007 Valerie rated it liked it
I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and had no idea that there was a surprise twist at the end. As a mystery, I didn't feel it was very compelling, but aside from that the story was definitely interesting enough to keep me engaged. A quick refresher of The Great Gatsby on Wikipedia is a good idea if you read this book, as its characters appear in The Double Bind as well.

I thought that they were well-integrated into the book, and it was definitely an innovative idea on the part of
Nov 14, 2007 Amy rated it did not like it
Shelves: should-have-quit
There were moments where I thought this books was really stupid. The main character was so dramatic at times, the plot seemed like it was trying to be more than it was only b/c the author was making the main character make such a big deal out of minimal things.
Turns out there was a reason for that. You don't find out until the very end (which you can predict near the end). The entire thing is explained on the last pages because it has to be completely written out, otherwise it's a book that is
Jo Ann
Oct 14, 2007 Jo Ann marked it as to-read
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 de
MaryBeth Isaac
Dec 31, 2007 MaryBeth Isaac rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: friends
This novel is intriguing, heartbreaking and beautiful. Starting with a violent act, the story takes us through the life of the victim Lauren, a privileged young adult who has since dedicated her life to helping the homeless. After the death of a homeless man named Bobbie, Lauren's life intertwines with the descendants of Tom and Daisy Buchanan in present day.

Bobbies only known legacy is a box of secretive photographs and negatives. Lauren recognizes the homes in the photographs from her childho
Jun 01, 2008 Mike rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those on vacation
Recommended to Mike by: My dealer at Barnes and Noble
Because I loved "The Thirteenth Tale" my contact at Barnes and Noble was sure I would like this book by Bohjalian. He had heard the two books had many things in common. Unfortunately, they don't. Fortunately, I moderately liked this one for much different reasons. As others have written in their reviews, this book was not edited with any real sense of purpose or aid. It lacked for a skilled edit job here and there.

(This review contains no spoilers of any serious degree).

However, the author does
Jul 04, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Reviewing this book properly would necessitate revealing the plot and spoiling the author's skillful and unusual handling of character development, narrative design, and technique. I have not read this author before. He is apparently known for his sensitive and creative exploration of serious social issues through fiction, and this book would be consistent with that.

While she's in college, Laurel is brutally attacked while riding her bike on a wooded country road in Vermont. The story quickly f
Aug 20, 2007 Darlene rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Not at all the book I thought I was getting. Far darker and more disturbing a story than the cover copy lead me to believe. I'm a fan of The Great Gatsby. I'm a fan of historical photography. I'm interested in mysteries.

I'm not interested in the details of women being brutalized over and over -- either physically or emotionally. I'm willing to believe it was unintentional on Bohjalian's part, but I couldn't help taking the thematic misogynistic overtones a little too personally.

I figured out t
May 15, 2013 Shelby rated it really liked it
How do I put into words this book? Wow...holy crap...Im still in awe of it. I wanted to say this is a 5 star book, simply Im still shocked by it and really cant say all that I feel. I may change my review later but as it stands 4 1/2 stars.
Apr 18, 2014 Teresa added it
This book finally pushed me into action, in that from now on my Goodreads friends, I'll being giving one or no star to books which have verbally abusive language towards women. Authors who would not use the "n.." word have no compunction in using the most vile language to attack women verbally. This book exceeds on that account and one may say that it was not gratuitous, but Bohjalian was overzealous in his use. Yes, it served a purpose as being part of the horrendous act of rape, but he could h ...more
Neelu Eldurkar
Feb 24, 2008 Neelu Eldurkar rated it it was ok
What a twist at the end! It certainly saddened me to see teh degradation of the main character's mental health. You really grow to love her for being so compassionate to other human beings, especially the homeless and mentally ill. Then to see that she was also going down that road and to also learn that she suffered such a horrid enounter. So horrible that she blocked the reality of it from her self. There is still a lot of confusion in my head as to what was real and what was in her imaginatio ...more
Aug 22, 2007 Jane rated it did not like it
I reached page 155 in this novel, and I have decided not to continue. The protagonist, Laurel, is not compelling; the writing is unnecessarily adjectivey; the use of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, from The Great Gatsby, as characters in this novel feels tricked up; and one of the puzzles -- the "true" identity of a deceased homeless man -- is solved early and too easily for this reader's taste.

I understand, from reading other reviews in Goodreads, that I'm passing up a twist ending by abandoning this b
Feb 14, 2014 Jen rated it liked it
I struggled with the rating on this book...started off intriguing and captured my interest however moved slowly from then on; conversations that took place seemed unrealistic and not likely to provide info so readily and easily. However, that being said, the book managed to take a turn and a twist, recapturing my attention. Overall a-good storyline just needed a little more development. Delighted with the ending as I had to reflect back to see how the pieces came together.
This is not my favorite book by this author but I was intrigued. The great Gatsby was one of the few books I enjoyed as mandatory reading in high school, so I liked the connection of those characters brought in. I do always like the author has great titles for the book. When we find out the version of what The double bind means, it fits in well. Laurel seemed to use these photographs as a way to honor this homeless man at first but then she becomes too obsessed. It all falls into place at the en ...more
Nov 15, 2008 bookczuk rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing
Wow. All I can say is "Wow". What a portrait, what a story, what an examination into homelessness and mental illness. the story captivated me; the last pages stunned me.

From Barnes & Noble

A Selection of Barnes & Noble Recommends
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,
Jul 31, 2009 Kelly rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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What's The Name o...: bike wreck with references to The Great Gatsby [s] 6 197 Jul 27, 2013 07:36AM  
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the daughters (spoilers) 5 186 Oct 03, 2008 06:30PM  
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Lincoln, Vermont’s Chris Bohjalian is the author of 18 books, most of which were New York Times bestsellers. His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.

Hi new novel, "The Guest Room," a story of a human trafficking, a marriage in crisis, and two remarkable women, just went on sale.

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, th
More about Chris Bohjalian...

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“A term came to her that they used on occasion at the shelter: the double bind...They used the expression in much the same way that they would use a term like catch-22.” 0 likes
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