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Dual Citizens

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  544 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Lark and Robin are half-sisters whose similarities end at being named for birds. While Lark is shy and studious, Robin is wild and artistic. Raised in Montreal by their disinterested single mother, they form a fierce team in childhood regardless of their differences. As they grow up, Lark excels at school and Robin becomes an extraordinary pianist. At seventeen, Lark flees ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Knopf
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
I’ll begin with the obvious: The book cover is GORGEOUS!
Between the book cover, the author’s lovely name (this is my first novel by Alix Ohlin, - not my last), and the well written descriptive blurb - I knew instantly that I was wanted to read this.
This 288 page novel ( ebook for me) - narrated with intimate storytelling - solemn - genuine - timeless - filled with awareness of thought - emotional connectedness - and illustrates the profound impact and consequences of how family tensions bind
(2.75) I hadn’t heard of Ohlin, a Canadian author, but took a chance on her third novel because I was intrigued by the title and the prospect of a close yet fraught sister relationship. Lark Brossard and her younger half-sister, Robin, were raised by an inattentive single mother in Montreal; both their fathers were American, so they come and go from the USA as they wish – Lark attends college in Boston; afterwards the sisters live in New York City to pursue their passions: documentary ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, can-con, 2019
I filmed the teenagers who gathered at the ice cream parlor, the girls flirting by pressing their hands quickly to the boys' arms and then recoiling from their muscles as if burned; the boys yelling insults to each other or calling out from the rolled-down windows of passing cars, everyone performing, summertime a stage. I was recording an adolescence I'd never had. In the garden shed I cut the film together, cicadas and girls, old men and moonlight. All my life I'd gathered tidbits – things I
Note: spoilers ahead

Lark and Robin are half-sisters, products of their young, free-spirited mother’s relationships with different American men. The girls essentially raise themselves in Montreal. Their mother provides shelter, food, and clothing, but Marianne is otherwise almost entirely uninterested in them. A high-school dropout, she works at a variety of low-paying jobs and goes through a number of boyfriends during her daughters’ time with her. Eventually, Lark (the narrator, older sister by
Cheryl Sokoloff
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was extremely fortunate to hear Alix Ohlin speak right before the release of Dual Citizens, her latest novel. To say I was impressed by her accomplishments, highlighted by the woman introducing her that day, is an understatement. In the audience were teachers from her school in Montreal, so proud of their former student. When it was her turn to speak, Alix was open and spoke of her life journey, of learning about what type of books she was meant to author. She loves stories, collecting them ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've followed Ohlin's career since I was a young woman; I read an article called "Profiles in Cheapness," where she was featured in Mademoiselle magazine--remember Mademoiselle?--on living on a limited income. When her first book was published, I remembered her name and was drawn by both her voice as well as her ability to delve deeply into human feelings. Since then, I've read everything she's written, and this beautiful survival story of two Canadian sisters, how their stark differences ...more
A traditional, old-fashioned novel--in a good way. The sprawling and yet contained life story of sisters Lark and Robin, Dual Citizens is beautifully written and full of delicate character work and small, bright, smartly chosen detail. Not a lot happens except that two women grow up, grow apart, come back together, but the strength of the writing itself manages to make that pretty riveting.

I wish the book felt like it added up to something of a little more weight, though--psychologically,
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
A tale of two sisters whose bond is a strong one, growing up with a neglectful mother, and the paths that tear them apart and bring them together again.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
I have to agree 100% with Rebecca's review

I only ever felt at a distant arm's length from Lark, and nothing too much at all for Robin. Part 1: Before and some of Part 2: Childhood were the best parts in my opinion. This is where we get the background and development on the indifference of their mother and the shaping of their coming of age. But as we move through the story, I couldn't escape the distant feeling and its overall flatness - I skimmed quite
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giller-prize
I listened to this one in audio.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but am a bit surprised it made the Giller short list. I loved her book Inside so much, and I did not feel this book did as good a job describing what was going on inside of the characters.

What I did really enjoy is the descriptions while Lark is studying films.

Janet Hutchinson
This story of two sisters and their relationship with each other, with their mother, and with the men around them did not flow well for me. I thought the writing was excellent, but the plot, and how it hung together (or didn’t, at times),left me a little cold.
Dual Citizens is about two sisters born in Montreal. Their mother does not care about them. Each of the girls has a different father. Perhaps Maryanne (the mother) is bitter because each man has left her. This abandonment their mother has suffered, leaves Lark, the older one, to care for Robin, her sister.

But their relationship is not always good. They do drift apart, eventually to get back together again.

I had a sister once and appreciate reading stories about girl siblings. The relationship
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is written with grace and a calm realism. It’s the story of two sisters, Lark and Robin, as they grow up with a distant, unprepared mother, find their ways as young adults, then (toward the end) consider their transition into motherhood and, although it is beyond the story, the precipice of middle age by which point I suppose we’re supposed to know who we are. It’s a poignant story and the voice Ohlin gives the characters is sometimes wry, sometimes reluctant, and always tinged with ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book follows every single rule of contemporary literary fiction writing (up to and including that it has no real plot--it's 271 pages of methodical recounting and philosophical musings). Yes, I marveled at the sentences, the quietly brilliant observations. But Lark (who wants to have a child) was so alive as a character, while Robin and Marianne (who don't) died (figuratively) on the page. If they’d all been brought to life, the themes would have had some teeth. There might even have been ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. I liked her previous novel. But I just couldn't like either of these sisters and as they got along in their lives the less interested I was in their progress. They both seem to be reaching out to absurdity and it just got boring.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am completely underwhelmed by this book.
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Engaging story of how sisterhood and motherhood changes and evolves over the years, following life story of two sisters. References to Close Up and Certified Copy, films by Abbas Kiarostami, was neat.

Although I felt the overall story needed more cohesion and focus, Alix Ohlin demonstrates great potential and I look forward to her future works.
Jim Tilley
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is well worth reading. It chronicles the on-again, off-again relationship between two sisters and also their relationships with their mother. It is not an "only for women" book! The title works in multiple ways, one of which is revealed at the very end. Some may find this a "slow-burn" read, I did not; the ever-changing face of the characters' lives drew me through the book. Saying more might involve spoilers, so I won't. But read this one.
I read this as part of the Giller Prize shortlist. Although this was well written, the plot was familiar: irresponsible mother abandoned her children, because she had them young, and because she could, they grew up with no guidance and had to look out for each other, urgh!!
Karissa Fast
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If this book wins the Giller, I will celebrate, because it means many Canadians will read it and I will have more people to talk to about it. Finished in less than 24 hours.

I can not think of another realistic, family-centred literary novel that has ever hooked me quite like this one. Our narrator is Lark, and we experience life with her from birth to middle-age. Her relationship with her half sister is one of the most influential parts of her life, and so Robin almost becomes a second
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A really beautiful novel about two sisters, based partially in the United States and partially in Montreal. I really love Ohlin's writing and her attention to details. Very beautiful book.
Maureen J Drever
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read! I would give it 4.5 if I could. Sisters! Always a complex topic.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dual Citizens is a beautiful story about the relationship of two sisters whose lives weave in and out of each other’s path. With well written and deeply interesting characters that are immediately easy to care about. I loved this book in every way.
Johanna Stoberock
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, moving novel. I found myself so surprised by Lark's take on the world, and then so grateful for the space for possibility that the surprise made room for.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I both wanted to find out what happens in this book, and simultaneously wanted to put it away and be done with it. The characters suffer in different and unique ways that I couldn't relate to at all, though I did think some of their difficulties are universal. It cut off/ended at a very weird place that didn't feel like an ending.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Ohlin is a gifted writer. Her familial story is not my preferred kind of reading, but I appreciated this writer’s realism that reflect early influences. Tried to read the whole book, but when I switched from admiring Ohlin’s craft to boredom with the story, I skimmed the rest. The ending was sentimental, but it fit with classic literature. I’ll be watching Ohlin for her future narratives.
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting (to me) film parts, and I could relate to the dysfunctional childhood. The author lost me a bit when Lark fell into her romantic and sexual relationship with the film-maker for no good reason, and lost me a bit more when she became baby crazy. It seemed an unfitting ending for a woman who had defined herself in so many other ways. Babies are NOT the meaning of life!!!!
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in Montreal and New York Dual Citizens details the lives of two sisters Lark and Robin. This is a celebration of their accomplishments . It is a portrayal of disappointments, unrealized ambitions and regrets but most of all it is about two sisters, their relationship, dependability, belonging and family loyalties.
Jay bookworm
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-own-it, won
Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher, Knopf Books, for the free copy of the book. I really enjoyed the story as we learned about the sisters’ lives (told from the viewpoint of one). Their lives were not easy and struggling to determine who they should be and what they really want was fascinating. The book has a great pace and rhythm. If you like exploring relationships, this is a story for you. It read almost like a memoir and I identified with the narrator and her challenges.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really surprising in a tense and poignant way. Lark is unlikeable, and so is Robin, but they’re mostly meant to be and that is where their power lies. This is a complex and powerful reflection on the taut and irreplaceable relationships between siblings, particularly sisters. It’s not maudlin or saccharine; instead, it’s beautifully told in no-nonsense prose with moments of emotion that bring tears to your eyes.
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Alix Ohlin is the author of The Missing Person, a novel; Babylon and Other Stories; and Signs and Wonders, a story collection. Her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best New American Voices, and on public radio’s Selected Shorts. She lives in Vancouver, BC.
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“I was a hoarder, a collector of facts that I stored in my brain for later use, not knowing what this use might be.” 0 likes
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