Half-sisters Lark and Robin are left to their own devices at a young age: their respective fathers are gone and their shared mother, Marianne, leaves them to fend for themselves for days. Despite their differences--introverted Lark (nicknamed "Looks Down at the Ground" in college) craves routine, while Robin is "never entirely tame"--the girls forge an incredible bond.
Over four parts (Before, Childhood, Motherhood, After), Alix Ohlin's Dual Citizens traces the sisters' crisscrossing paths of self-discovery. Irreparably impacted by their childhood in Montreal, they struggle to find their places in the world, together and through agonizing fractures in their relationship.
Brilliant Lark scores a scholarship to study film in Boston, leaving Robin with Marianne and her many boyfriends. Robin, a piano prodigy, eventually escapes to join Lark and is accepted into Juilliard. The dynamic fluctuates when Lark takes on a motherly role as Robin's legal guardian, and Robin rebels against the rigors and structure of Juilliard.
Ohlin's prose and insight are luminous, particularly within Childhood, focused on the girls' early years and the exposed roots they trip over as they try to find their footing--as sisters, daughters, parental figures and individuals. Motherhood is equally compelling yet oddly discordant, as Robin and Lark spend much of it apart. As with her prior novel, Inside, Ohlin is adroit at articulating her characters' internal dialogues, and it becomes apparent to the reader as it does to both women that they are at their most harmonious when connected to each other. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review