Jessica's Reviews > The Double Bind

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
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's review
Mar 09, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in February, 2008

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 out where Bobbie came from and how he ended up in her homeless shelter.

Bohjalian's exposition is dreadful. It frustrated me that he gave Laurel a mystery to solve, but gave the reader the answer on the very first page of the first chapter. It's more enticing if the reader is trying to solve the mystery alongside the characters, more clever to dangle the hints in front of us to see if we catch on to them.

The character development was just as weak as the exposition. The book jacket told me that Laurel was so traumatized by her almost-rape that she withdrew from society and began working at the homeless shelter as a means of dealing with it. However, this wasn't a part of the story at all, outside of the prologue, where it was briefly touched on in the form of a few sentences. As the story goes on, Laurel barely seems to be affected by the attack at all, except when Bohjalian explicitly states that she doesn't like having sex in the missionary position because it makes her think of her attackers and that she doesn't like to be in the state of Vermont on the anniversary of the attack.

None of the secondary characters had any depth whatsoever. Laurel's roommate, smitten neighbor, much older boyfriend, and shelter coworkers were all flat and acted without motivation or reason.

The biggest weakness in this book, though, is the supposed twist ending that much of the events, (view spoiler)

This book was such a terrible letdown, poorly structured and written with ho-hum prose. The entire time I was reading it, all I could think about was how it should have been written instead.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K i totally agree. this book was wackk.

Heather I disagree w/the point about the daughters, b/c I think the whole book that we read was also supposed to be a "memoir" that Laurel wrote - so I think the idea was that Laurel invented it. I am fascinated by how polarizing this book seems to be - I nearly gave it 5 stars - and I think I'm pretty picky - and I can see that you're not the only reviewer who only gave it one!

Karen I totally agree. Trying to stick with it but I think I'm done. Too many other good books to read!

Carolyn Jessica, Thank you! I have openly stated that I need to trust an author when he is giving us what we believe to be facts. The characters can lie all they want, but when things seem to go off into separate scenes (you know what I mean), I lost all faith in the author. The ending, although predictable by that point, was a mess. I felt like I was watching Bobby Ewing step out of the shower all over again. No patience for that with an author.

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