Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

In The Double Bind, Bobby Crocker, a schizophrenic, indigent, and formerly homeless man dies and leaves behind a bunch of photographs. Almost nothing is known about his life or his past. He had said that the photographs were his, but no one knows for sure if that’s true. Laurel, from the homeless shelter where Bobby once lived, is determined to find out about his life and possibly find his family. She has her own past to contend with while she becomes obsessed with her pursuit of Bobby’s secrets.

Bohjalian presents an awesome mystery with great characters. I love how he builds suspense by offering just enough information to leave the reader wanting more. I wish I could have read this book in one sitting; I just didn’t want to put it down. I loved it. My favourite aspect of this book was that the author incorporated many of the characters from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby into this story. It’s a brilliant concept and wonderful execution!

The book also offers an interesting look at mental illness. The author shows us the illness from the inside, as experienced by the sufferer, and the outside, as it is viewed by the family and friends. I found it extremely interesting.

As with all good mysteries, there’s a shocking, yet wonderful twist at the end. Mostly it was a surprise, however, I guessed at the how it was going to end shortly before the author revealed the twist. I hate when that happens. I still really enjoyed it, though.

I had a very odd sensation while reading the book. Bohjalian’s characters were very believable and real. However, I knew that the characters from The Great Gatsby were fictional, so I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction; these characters only existed on the written page. All very strange considering how the book ended. [I’m not about to give that away!]

While it’s not absolutely essential, some familiarity with the characters of The Great Gatsby would be helpful; therefore, I’d recommend reading that book beforehand.

Highly recommended. I generally don’t reread books, but I’d definitely like to read this one again. I’ve also read Midwives by Bohjalian and I’d recommend that, too. I’m look forward to reading more works by this author.

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