Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin (Review by Madhura Mukhopadhyay)

2 min read

Rating: 5/5

Burdened with absent fathers and a detached mother, half-sisters Lark and Robin have practically raised themselves. Their two-member team is so fierce that when Lark leaves home to go to college in the US, Robin runs away from home to be with her sister. This book follows the trajectory, – the highs and lows – of the lives of two siblings over the course of almost three decades.

Dual Citizens by Alex Ohlin is a story about the relationship between sisters. It is an exploration about the undeniable bonds between siblings that keep them tethered to each other in spite of all odds. Both Robin and Lark are strong-willed, independent women, often pushing each other away in a rush to explore their own universes. Yet from time to time, they reach out to each other, to turn to the one person who remembers them as they used to be.

Amongst the many themes explored in the book, one that stands out is that of identity. Much of Lark’s life is spent trying to find the one thing she might be good at. Similarly, when faced with an impossible decision, Robin withdraws and travels to unfamiliar places searching for herself. Having grown-up in a dysfunctional family, the two sisters are often at a loss when it comes to relationships. As Robin and Lark make their own ways in the world as a pianist and a filmmaker respectively, they each cobble together a makeshift family with whoever happens to be a part of their lives at the time.

The author describes in an interview, how she has explored the idea of citizenship in this book. Citizenship of a relationship, a family or even society comes with a sense of belonging in exchange for responsibilities. Offered these conditions, one sister’s life disintegrates while the other flees into wilderness. I loved this book, especially the evocative and fluid writing. Dual Citizens is a luminous and insightful story, illuminating the invisible but indestructible link between siblings.

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