The Double Bind
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The Double Bind

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  18,062 ratings  ·  3,015 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...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Crown (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
3 ½ 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 “So...more
Jonna Rubin
May 04, 2008 Jonna Rubin rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Jessica Jeffers
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...more
Carolyn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie Petersen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie
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
Stacey
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
Jaime
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...more
Tracy
Sep 30, 2008 Tracy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book Clubs, M. Night Shyamalan fans, Jodi Picoult fans
Shelves: own-it, fiction
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...more
Nick
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
Valerie
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...more
Maggi
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
Jo Ann
Oct 14, 2007 Jo Ann marked it as to-read
REWVIEW:
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...more
MaryBeth Isaac
Dec 31, 2007 MaryBeth Isaac rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
Mike
Jun 01, 2008 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Elizabeth
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...more
Amy
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...more
Darlene
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...more
Shelby
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.
Jane
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...more
Teresa
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
bookczuk
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,...more
Diane
Mar 16, 2008 Diane rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of syspense, intrigue, a gripping story
Recommended to Diane by: A Goodreads member's list
Whoa! This book grabbed me from the first page of the Prologue and kept me involved until - yes, I finished it bleary-eyed and wide awake in the wee small hours of the night trailing the same day I started reading it. It's mystery and suspense and a puzzle. The references to Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby stand alone, but I did reach for my old copy of The Great Gatsby and skim a couple of sections out of curiousity. The black & white photographs included in the story fit and seemed real, add...more
Janean
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne
The Double Bind is a fascinating exploration of memory and mental-illness. The book opens with the main character Laurel's brutal attack while riding her bike on a deserted road. Years later, she works at a homeless shelter and meets a schizophrenic man, Bobbie Crocker, who has a collection of brilliant photographs. When Bobbie dies, Laurel finds herself obsessed with figuring out where the photographs came from and who the man behind the pictures was. In an interesting plot device Laurel happen...more
Neelu Eldurkar
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
Bree
Reading Chris Bojhalian is like watching daytime tv, it passes the time, might be moderately interesting, makes you wince a little sometimes and ultimately leaves you feeling slightly greenish afterwards. This book diverged from his usual tried-and-true structure of introducing emotionally complex EveryMen and EveryWomen who make a fatal mistake early on and struggle to repair things before their worlds go down the drain. I continued reading, and ultimately, finished feeling dissatisfied and res...more
Laurel
Nov 14, 2007 Laurel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks who like page turners
Shelves: just-finished
I can't say too much about this book because it is all about the twist...certain frustrations I had with the prose style made sense towards the end when I realized what the twist was going to be. Also at the end, when the twist and the shocker were revealed I realized I cared more about the protagonist than I thought I had. One huge distraction for me with this novel was the protagonist's name...Laurel. I have never read a novel where the main character shares my name and it was kind of weird......more
Mary Ellen
Sep 06, 2007 Mary Ellen rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
I disliked this book so much that I wanted to warn as many people as possible away from it! This was billed as a "literary thriller," but it is anything but. The writing is very ordinary, often awkward; and the question, "Will the heroine get to keep the photos of old celebrities?" is not the kind of question I associate with the term "thriller." The "big twist" ending was a simplistic plot device and not worth slogging through hundreds of pages of pedestrian prose.

I also agree with those who f...more
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What's The Name o...: bike wreck with references to The Great Gatsby [s] 6 185 Jul 27, 2013 07:36AM  
the daughters (spoilers) 5 170 Oct 03, 2008 06:30PM  
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Chris Bohjalian is the author of seventeen books, including Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, arriving July 8, 2014 from Doubleday.

His other books include such New York Times bestsellers as The Light in the Ruins, The Sandcastle Girls, The Night Strangers, Secrets of Eden, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before Your Know Kindness, and Midwives.

Chris's awards include the ANCA Arts and Letters...more
More about Chris Bohjalian...
Midwives The Sandcastle Girls Skeletons at the Feast The Light in the Ruins The Night Strangers

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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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