Friday, January 30, 2009

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

The Double Bind was our January book club pick. I actually suggested this one to the group after reading reviews about it. To me it sounded like a multi-layered interesting book and it is tied to the classic The Great Gatsby.

The novel opens with nineteen year old Laurel going on a bike ride in rural Vermont. Two men come upon her and assault her. She does everything possible to fend off the men and is saved from death by three other men biking along who scare the assailants away. From this opening we meet up with Laurel several years later working in a homeless shelter as a social worker. She becomes enamored with the photographs of a schizophrenic client, Bobbie Crocker who passes away. The photographs span decades and include famous faces such as Dick Van Dyke, past presidents, jazz musicians and Jay Gatsby. There are also a few photos of the client as a boy. Laurel is given the job of organizing an exhibit of these photographs as a way to bring the homeless shelter into the public eye. Laurel becomes obsessed with Crocker's photos and finding out who he was. She's convinced that Crocker was indeed Robert Buchannon, son of Tom and Daisy Buchannon, characters in The Great Gatsby. All of this begins a frenetic spiral into a world filled only with linking Crocker to the world of Gatsby. Laurel's boss, boyfriend and friends all become worried about her as she becomes more obsessed with the photographs.

As you read, you can tell the book is building up to quite an ending, you're just not quite sure what it is. Then all of sudden it twists and hits you. I won't reveal anymore because I don't want to ruin it for anymore. I liked this book quite a bit and enjoyed how it related to The Great Gatsby. In fact, I believe I will reread Gatsby in the near future. I haven't read it since I was a junior in high school. I really like the modern take on an old classic. And although I somewhat saw the twist at the end coming it wasn't entirely predictable to me and I was satisfied with it. The end also made me go back and reread short sections of the book to see if I saw it in a new light. I would recommend this one to anyone looking for a book with a little more depth.

Unfortunately, I cannot report how the rest of the book club felt about the book because our meeting was canceled. But we plan to discuss it next month when we meet to discuss Stephanie Meyer's Twilight. Yes, I have resisted the Twilight bandwagon for this long. I knew the only way I would read it was through book club. It is not because I think its going to be bad. I just am not that excited about vampires in general as a subject. And I'm a little worried I will be annoyed by Bella's whininess from other reviews I have read. But I plan to delve into the book on a very long plane ride. We'll see what I think of it. I may have to rush out and read the rest of them. I'll be sure to report back on that one!

Other reviews of The Double Bind:
A Life in Books
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Girls Just Reading (This is the review that made me add this to my TBR list)

1 comment:

Bingo said...

I LOVED this book and wished for so long for someone I knew to read it so we could discuss it. A friend did and we felt the same way so had OUR book club read it. Sadly, some didn't care for it but the ones who did had a good discussion. I hope your club likes it better and that you enjoyed it!
By the way, I have 5 copies of THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY is you come on over to aand enter! Thanks!