Double Bind by Chris Bojhalian

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
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 to know through her work at a Burlington homeless shelter in the years subsequent to the 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 after 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.

The View:

Off-late some of the choices my book club made was so bad, that I barely got through the book. I expected the same for the Double Bind when I started reading it for the August meet. Much to my surprise the book captivated me from page 1, I barely could put it down. I even contemplated taking it with me to work so I could skim through a few pages during lunch hours. Not many books do that to me and specially none of the ones my book club chose this year.

I had not read “The Great Gatsby” when I read “Double Bind” for the first time, but I re-read it after knowing a little something about The Great Gatsby. My perception of the book before and after was much different. I knew Double Bind had some twist coming because of the way the story was progressing but not in my wildest dreams was I prepared for the ending. We talked about it in our book club to see if anyone anticipated the ending, many of us did find certain elements out-of-place like when she remains clothed during her intimate moments or the way she avoids her roommate. People who read “The Great Gatsby” also felt that the name references were sort of too-similar. But none of us bothered to read the doctor’s notes in sincerity; that is until after the ending came through.

I loved every little character in the plot and I loved them more after The Great Gatsby. Laurel by far carries the story forward and she does an excellent job at it even without knowing it. Her obsessions with the pictures makes a lot more sense as we get further through the book. The display of the pictures was an idea that made an impact, all of them in my book club loved that we could see some amazingly well-shot pictures and even debated through some of them.

Not just me but every one I discussed this book with loved it (now, that is a rare one). For the simple reason that this one left an impact I will rate it a 5 on 5. This one probably deserves more !!!


kavyen

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