Summary: Readers will be startled to learn early on that the heroine of this engrossing puzzle, 26-year-old Laurel Estabrook, was born in West Egg. Wait a minute, wasn't West Egg where Jay Gatsby lived? Laurel works in a Burlington, Vt., homeless shelter and is trying to overcome mental and physical scars incurred from a brutal assault some six years earlier. After being given a portfolio of photographs taken by a recently deceased resident of the shelter, Bobbie Crocker, she becomes obsessed with questions surrounding what appears to be a picture of herself shot on the day of her attack. Laurel's already fragile mental state begins to unravel as she follows Bobbie's life from his rich-kid childhood on Long Island to homelessness in Vermont. The Gatsby references form the basis of the mystery, compelling readers to try to imagine how this fictional backdrop relates to the novel's "reality." It's a high-wire act for bestseller Bohjalian (Midwives), and while the climactic explanation may be a letdown for some, he generally pulls off a tricky and intriguing premise. -Publishers Weekly
Review: This is the kind of novel I would never pick up myself, even with stellar reviews and recommendations from my fellow Girls Just Reading cohorts. In fact, if it wasn’t part of the reading challenge I am involved in with Julie, I still wouldn’t have read this novel. I can tell you right now that would have been a, quoting Vivian from Pretty Woman, “big mistake, huge mistake”.
This novel was a real page turner for me. I loved Laurel. I loved how she overcame the most horrific thing that can happen to anyone: being attacked, almost raped and killed while bicycling through the woods in Vermont. If it wasn’t for other cyclists, she wouldn’t have survived. After the attack, she moved on with her life. She finished college, she started working at a homeless shelter, she dated. I loved how strong she was. With everything she went through, she learned to rely on herself.
When Bobbie Crocker, one of the shelter charges dies suddenly, Laurel is given the task of cataloging the photographs he had with him. And here is where the mystery begins. Through these photographs, Laurel begins to unravel the truth about who Bobbie Crocker was, where he came from, who his family was. Imagine my surprise when Mr. Bohjalian incorporated The Great Gatsby into this novel, making Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan, and others real characters instead of fictional classics.
The Double Bind totally blew my mind. Seriously. It was quick moving and kept me on the edge of my seat. It was a real page turner. I was as invested in finding the truth about Bobbie Crocker as Laurel was. The closer she came to the truth, the more addicted I became to words on a page. I had to do that thing where I fight with myself because all I want to do is flip to the final pages and satisfy my curiosity. I’m really glad I didn’t because the final three pages rocked. I did not see the final twist in the novel coming at all. I was so shocked the first thing I did was text Julie, “Holy Beep!!!”
If you have read this novel already, it’s worth a revisit and if you haven’t, then you need to go pick it up soon. And be prepared to have your mind blown.
Final Take: 5/5