Review: Bound by Antonya Nelson

I had read about the novel “Bound” in a Best Choices for Bookclubs book I found at the library. It sounded intriguing, so I downloaded a free sample for my Kindle (love that aspect of the Kindle!). The sample was good, I thought, so I went for purchasing the whole book. “Bound” has interwoven threads of stories, generally centered around female protagonist Catherine Desplaines. The story starts – in the sample I received – with a car accident and a dog who gets free from the wreckage as his owner is killed. He is taken in by a couple – the woman primarily – who are camping nearby. It seemed intriguing, so I was surprised when I purchased the novel and never saw those characters again until the last pages! It seems that the dog belonged to a single woman who has a daughter (troubled teen in boarding school in Vermont) and her will bequeaths guardianship of said daughter to her childhood/high school best friend (Catherine) whom she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years. Am I the only person/parent who thinks this is weird?? Anyhow, the story follows Catherine’s quest to meet and bond with “Cattie” – her namesake – along with all the other relationships along the way and a lot of past history and remembrances. Meanwhile, this whole story is cast against the backdrop of the BTK killer in Wichita – which figures into all the publicity of this book, but doesn’t really go into the plot at all. Just a metaphor I suppose — and one that ties into the title — the “bind, torture, kill” serial killer, being “bound” to your past, being “bound” to those you love (Catherine has a shaky relationship with her stroke victim mother and a marriage to a man who loves to cheat on the side), these are the ties that bind, la la la.  Somehow I thought this would be a mystery as well as a story about muddled relationships.

My biggest issue with the book is that I couldn’t figure out the relevance of some of the characters and why they existed as characters — the PTSD victim (maybe another bound guy?), the no name Sweetheart, the first dog. Furthermore, I could not relate or feel any kind of affinity to any of the characters. Perhaps that’s just my problem, but slightly dim, trophy wife? No. Adulterer? No. Angry, older woman? No. Angst-ridden teen? No. Traumatized youth? No. Abandoned dog? No. Oh well.

Not a bad book, but I didn’t love it. C’est la vie!

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