The Double Bind Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Double Bind

“You dead cu*t” were the offensive words yelled at Laurel Estabrook as she was being ripped off of her bicycle. It was the third Sunday in a row that the college sophomore had tried out the trail. A Sunday fall evening in Vermont.   When the brown van stopped abruptly ahead of her Laura had not had time to do a turn around. She knew that a van on a lonely road just before dark that stops for no apparent reason can't be a good thing. The two men standing by their van were going to rape her maybe kill her, she wasn't sure.
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Laurel held onto her handle bars and sunk her cleats deeper into her bike pedals. They would have to be manually removed and her attacker's couldn't figure out how to free her feet. They decide to throw her and the bike in the back of the van with her still on it. When the bike won't fit because of all the debris and exercise equipment they throw her to the ground to make room. The toss shatters her collar bone. It also gives three bike riding attorneys a chance to follow the screams. The guys are back in the van as they spot the bikers and the driver puts the van in reverse to run Laurel over and kill her. He misses her body by a few inches but hits her bike wheels.

She goes back for the trial and eventually returns to school after taking a semester off. She doesn't return to the trail ever again.

Laurel volunteers at a homeless shelter and is later hired as staff. At BEDS she meets a man just released from the state mental institution. His name is Bobbie Crocker his only possession, a box of pictures from the 1920s. Crocker died a couple months later at the age of eighty-two. The photos had been amazing to Laurel. They contained pictures of Bobbie and an older teen. Laurel would learn that the woman was Pamela, the daughter Daisy Buchanan.

Laurel needs to know just how Bobbie came from a world of privilege into homelessness. She herself had been taught by her father to give back to others as he had done. What she couldn't understand was why the woman in the picture didn't do something to help.

Laurel visits Pamela who is none to pleased to meet the very young woman who is snooping for information. She is glad to learn that pictures still exist, she is less happy about strangers digging around in her family business.

They meet again, Pamela wants all the negatives and photos. Laurel has other ideas. Pamela has assured her that her brother has been dead and buried for forty years and whoever is claiming to be him is a lying imposter.

Laurel shares with Pamela that she thinks Bobbie is indeed her brother and if it is true then the pictures were his legacy (and the only thing he claimed as personal items upon entering the shelter) and he deserved a show. Upon the mention of Gatsby Pamela turned even more cold. Laurel knew things were not adding up.

Laurel's visit makes Pamela time travel back to the past. It made her think of her brother's erratic behaviors and emotional breaks. He'd left home after a fight with their father Tom. Daisy had not been home and Pamela felt heavy as she thought about the last time she'd seen her brother. She recalled that he looked and smelled homeless as he took pictures of the home they'd grown up in. He'd returned home a month after their mother was buried and he refused Pamela's invitation to stay for a while.

Laurel is piecing things together with the help of elders who knew Bobby as a kid or a young man. It starts looking like Gatsby may have fathered him and that would explain Tom being so hard on Bobbie. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and his family was embarrassed. Family shaming. He carried his photos everywhere a walking pictorial memoir.

Laurel meets with her attacker the man who is Bobbie's son. The two men had come across one another at a homeless shelter. In his apology letter he reads untruths saying that his friend raped her twice and they both made her perform oral sex. He apologizes for the scars on her breast and breaking her collar bone. Laurel has no idea why he would say she was raped when the bikers saved her from that and worse.

She continues on alone, her boyfriend David, her roommate nor her mother know where she is. She is in fact on a mission. She drives back to Gatsby's house and digs around on the golf course. She locates a box that she was led to by Bobbie's undeveloped negatives that she developed.

In the box is a picture of Daisy and in her hand, is a letter from Gatsby. He wants her to marry him and raise their son as a family. The truth and proof in her hands Laurel heads back to Vermont which is a seven hour drive away.

When she walks into her apartment the gang is all there including her mother and former psychiatrist. He has written notes describing Laurel as psychotic and suffering from bi-polar disorder and PTSD. He claims she made up the bike attack and launched into a deep running manic episode where she was convinced a client at the shelter she worked for was somehow the estranged son of Daisy Buchanan.
Best part of story, including ending: I disliked the mind play during the last few pages.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene was

Opinion about the main character: I liked that Laurel's actions made sense.

The review of this Book prepared by C. Imani Williams a Level 13 Blue-Winged Teal scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Double Bind

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh) Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   search for family/history Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Southeast

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   Boob talk!    -   Vagia talk! Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Chris Bohjalian Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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