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Fact and fiction become indistinguishable in The Double Bind: The story centers on Laurel Estabrook, a young social worker and survivor of a near-rape, who stumbles across photographs taken by a formerly homeless client and tries to understand how a man who'd taken snapshots of celebrities in the 50s and 60s might have wound up on the streets. However, an author's note tells us that Bohjalian conceived this book after being shown a batch of old photographs taken by a once-homeless man; and the actual photos of Bob "Soupy" Campbell are peppered throughout the text. In another neat twist, Bohjalian's resurrects details from The Great Gatsby, which become "real" in the context of his own novel--Laurel lives in West Egg; part of her hunt for her photographer's past involves meeting with the descendants of Daisy and Tom Buchanan.
As a writer who counts The Great Gatsby as one of the books that changed her life, this inclusion was both startling and remarkable for me. Who doesn't want one's favorite characters to come to life--even if it's only within the constraints of another fictional work? But Bohjalian chose his text wisely: no discussion of The Great Gatsby is complete without alluding to missed opportunities and unreliable sources--critical elements in Laurel's quest. And therein lies Bohjalian's true double bind: all stories--even the ones we tell ourselves--are subject to our own interpretation, and to the degree we can make others believe them.
The Double Bind may flirt with the classics, but it's not your father's stuffy old tome: it's the sort of book you want to read in one sitting, and it packs a twist at the end that will leave you speechless. It also, worthily, spotlights the cause of homelessness in a way that isn't preachy, but honest and explanatory. Ultimately, what Bohjalian's done is offer his lucky readers another reminder of why he's such an extraordinary author: by creating characters that become so real we lose the distinction between truth and embellishment; by reminding us that the story of any life--whether fictional, functional, or marginal--is one to be savored. --Jodi Picoult
This book was certainly interesting with many of the elements of the Gatsby story filtered in throughout the book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karen Regin
Intriguing and.fast-paced. Liked it just as well as A Light in the Ruins.Published 2 months ago by Nancy E. Howard
Wow, really surprised by the ending. Not very often, have I been left speechless like this. REALLY interesting book. May be worth a second read.Published 2 months ago by Emily Menendez-Aponte
One of my favorite books! My 2nd time reading it! You will not expect the ending!Published 2 months ago by Dmc
This book has an interesting subject matter that makes the reader think outside the box by the end of the book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Linda Newsom
I found it rather unpleasant to read. Our book club members did not like the ending. Several of us figured out the surprise early on.Published 3 months ago by Virginia S.
Characters very well developed. Story makes the reader curiouser and curiouser! Must read to the end
as story ending eludes you to the very end. Very good.
Loved it! I love Chris Bohjalian's books. Another good read from him.Published 3 months ago by Roberta McDonald