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Dual Citizens

A Novel
Written by: Alix Ohlin
Narrated by: Thérèse Plummer
Length: 9 hrs and 44 mins
4 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize

"Evocative...traces [its] characters over long arcs of time and place with equal amounts grace and wit. Most revelatory is the way that each [sister] fights to find her own life as an artist outside the expectations of others and the demands of a male-dominated world." (Vogue

A masterful achievement: a joint coming-of-age story and an achingly poignant portrait of the strange, painful, ultimately life-sustaining bonds between sisters.

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 17, Lark flees to America to attend college, where she finds her calling in documentary films, and her sister soon joins her. 

Later, in New York City, they find themselves tested: Lark struggles with self-doubt, and Robin chafes against the demands of Juilliard. Under pressure, their bond grows strained and ultimately is broken, and their paths abruptly diverge. Years later, Lark's life is in tatters and Robin's is wilder than ever. As Lark tries to take charge of her destiny, she discovers that despite the difficulties of their relationship, there is only one person she can truly rely on: her sister. 

In this gripping, unforgettable novel about art, ambition, sisterhood, motherhood, and self-knowledge, Alix Ohlin traces the rich and complicated lives of two indelible women. Dazzlingly insightful and beautifully crafted, Dual Citizens captures the unique language of sisters and makes visible the imperceptible strings that bind us to the ones we love for good.

©2019 Alix Ohlin (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“[An] engrossing, intricate tale . . . . Ohlin smartly chooses a broad scope and expertly weaves disparate lives into a singular thread, making for an exceptional depiction of the bond between sisters.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[Dual Citizens] is a lovely, deeply moving work. A lyrical account of the lives of two women, their failures and hopes, and ultimately their quiet redemption. . . . [Ohlin] asks smart, complicated questions not only about family, but also about the nature of narrative itself - whether in literature or in film - about the difference between artifice and truth and the meaning of nostalgia.” (Kirkus)

“I hesitate to call Dual Citizens Alix Ohlin’s best book - because her previous ones are among my favorite recent works of fiction - but it’s perhaps her most entrancing. This is a spellbinding, fever-dream of a tale that will leave you forever changed, and will surely earn Ohlin a place among the greatest writers of our generation. I loved it.” (Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year)

“Ohlin’s story of sisters wraps its tendrils deep as any family. Dual Citizens leads a reader through landscapes of compassion and crisis in this deeply felt, iridescent novel of the spells and surprises a sibling creates.” (Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark)

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BDC
  • 2019-10-31

Slow start but fascinating story

The first chapter was a little painful to get through but I'm glad I persisted. The story of two sisters with a neglectful mother isn't a new idea but I like the depth that it's examined of the effect on the sisters. There's no sugar coating or happy endings. It's complicated and messy. The sister Lark is the narrator and she's hard to like or understand but she is fascinating to listen to. She starts to unravel the story through her own neuroses and you really start to get a sense of how weird the world must see her. In contrast to her sister Robin who is prettier and more poised but ultimately can't escape the outcome of their childhood either and she plummets into her own weirdness. It's a story of trauma told by two sisters who barely even know how badly they've been traumatized and how they survive it. Often sad but always interesting. The writing is magnificent and the narrator is really good despite playing all the parts... it just works.

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    5 out of 5 stars

a great ride

I loved this story. the narrator played every part to perfection. I couldn't wait to start listening each day, until, sadly it was over.

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  • Deborah Reback
  • 2019-07-17

Annoying narrator

The story is compelling, but it’s very difficult to spend much time with this narrator, which is unfortunate.