Review: The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill

Nicholas and Nouschka grew up in the public eye as the gorgeous twin children of Etienne Tremblay, a folk-singing Lothario, and Quebec’s answer to Serge Gainsbourg. He fathered the twins with a 14-year-old girl after a show one night in Val-de-Loups. Now 18, the twins are living life in Montreal as mostly-forgotten former celebrities, dragging behind them a train of emotional baggage left over from their unhinged upbringing.

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If you enjoyed 2007’s Lullabies for Little Criminals, you will love The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. I read both books back to back, so I noticed a lot of similarities between the two (in an interview, O’Neill said both books take place across the street from one another!). Both stories are filled to the brim with melancholy. And just like Lullabies, O’Neill builds up a romantic young, city life made up of loveable degenerates who revel in their abilities to evade stability, while still longing for the support they never had. Nouschka is a spellbinding protagonist, and quite reminiscent of Lullabies‘ Baby. The female half of the infamous Tremblay twins, Nouschka is curious and creative, with ambitions that are often stunted by the dependency on her twin brother Nicholas. Nicholas is funny, and wild, and charismatic. He made me laugh out loud many times and seems like the kind of guy you could love/hate forever. The twins together are extraordinary and tragic and worrisome; obsessed with the myth of their birth mother, the disappointment in their absent father, the pain of failed relationships, and the simultaneous need for each other and an identity all their own. It’s urban whimsy done in the best way, full of hope and loneliness. Also, cats. Stray cats everywhere.

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