- Paperback: 330 pages
- Publisher: Perennial (1 October 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060875070
- ISBN-13: 978-0060875077
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Lullabies for Little Criminals Paperback – 1 Oct 2006
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This is a beautiful book, all the more remarkable because its harrowing tale is (virtuosically) told without a trace of self-pity or bathos. There are phrases in here that will make you laugh out loud, and others that will stop your heart. A definite triumph. --David Rakoff, author of "Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish""
A poignant tale . O Neill brings the setting to life. --"OK!," five stars"
A nuanced, endearing coming-of-age novel you won t want to miss. --"Quill & Quire" (Canada)"
Vivid and poignant.... A deeply moving and troubling novel. --"Independent" (London)"
O Neill is a tragicomedienne par excellence . You will not want to miss this tender depiction of some very mean streets. --"Montreal Review of Books""
O Neill somehow infuses her troubling story with a kind of heartbreaking innocence . She is a wonderful stylist and the voice she has created for Baby is original and altogether captivating. --"Booklist""
A winsome debut novel. --"Kirkus""
Baby s precocious introspection feels pitch perfect.... Tear-jerkingly effective. --"Publishers Weekly""
Dreamy prose.... Baby s unique voice and the glimmer of hope provided by her intelligence and imaginative spirit live on in the mind long after you have closed the book. --"Waterstones Books Quarterly" (London)"
From the Back Cover
Heather ONeills critically acclaimed debut novel, with a new introduction from the author to celebrate its ten-year anniversary
Baby, all of thirteen years old, is lost in the gangly, coltish moment between childhood and the strange pulls and temptations of the adult world. Her mother is dead; her father, Jules, is scarcely more than a child himself and is always on the lookout for his next score. Baby knows that chocolate milk is Jules slang for heroin and sees a lot more of that in her house than the real thing. But she takes vivid delight in the scrappy bits of happiness and beauty that find their way to her, and moves through the threat of the streets as if shes been choreographed in a dance.
Soon, though, a hazard emerges that is bigger than even her hard-won survival skills can handle. Alphonse, the local pimp, has his eye on her for his new girland what the johns dont take he covets for himself. If Baby cannot learn to become her own salvation, his dark world threatens to claim her, body and soul.
Channeling the artlessly affecting voice of her thirteen-year-old heroine with extraordinary accuracy and power, Heather ONeills debut novel blew readers away when it was first published ten years ago. Now its sure to capture its next decade of readers as Baby picks her pathway along the edge of the abyss to arrive at a place of redemption, and of love.
Featuring a new introduction from the author
CBC Canada reads winner, Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction winner, Orange Prize for Fiction finalist, Governor Generals Literary Award finalist, International Impac Dublin Literary Award finalist
Praise for Lullabies for Little Criminals
A vivid portrait of life on skid row.People
A nuanced, endearing coming-of-age novel you wont want to miss.Quill And Quire
Vivid and poignant. . . . A deeply moving and troubling novel.The Independent (London)
ONeill is a tragicomedienne par excellence. . . . You will not want to miss this tender depiction of some very mean streets.Montreal Review of Books
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Baby is a 12 year old girl who's father, Jules, is a heroin addict. Her life is complete chaos and through out the book, she's thrown from run-down apartments to foster homes to detention centers. Surprisingly enough, Jules is actually an endearing character, who I found myself wanting the best for, as much as I did for his daughter.
Here's my favorite passage; I think it really sums up the feel of the entire book:
"Jules and I were tiny people. We were delicate. We were almost destroyed. We were vulnerable. Like nerds in a school yard of bullies, we could have traded our stamps and cards of extinct animals. That's the kind of people we would be if our situation were different."
As vastly different as Baby's childhood is from my own, I could still identify with so many of the themes in the book - losing your innocence (& clinging to it for dear life), the way adults felt so separate; in a world of their own that you were trying to make sense of somehow, and of course, the need for affection, to be told "everything will be okay".
O'Neill is an amazing writer. I don't know how anyone could feel differently. Sure, she uses a lot of similes and metaphors, but they were perfect. She didn't just paint pictures, she painted paintings - I could read the words and instantly feel something; it was like she breathed life into everything she'd written. It was clear that she's experienced some similar situations, because she wrote about all of the awful things that happened to Baby with such a raw honesty, so specific and real.
The characters were so diverse, with so many dimensions - each one entirely unique. By the end of the book I felt like I had memories of them all, because each one affected me that much.
I really enjoyed Xander's character and what he represented for Baby - an escape back into innocence and comfort. I felt heartbroken when their little relationship wasn't enough to save her, though I knew it wouldn't be... and the reason I knew is because I could expect that much from O'Neill - a realistic, yet incredibly moving account of a childhood tainted by drug use and poverty.
Though painful to read, I'm giving this book 5 stars, because it did exactly what it set out to do - it made me part of a world that while dark and scary, was also beautifully triumphant. Plus, the writing style is so emotional and unique - come to think of it, it read like a lullaby. Loved it.
With that said, it was a very worthwhile book. The writing style got a bit tedious at times - way too many similes and metaphors - there's no way that this 12-year-old girl could put into words the "pictures" she saw in everyday life.
Like many other reviewers, I question the cover. It does not fit the sadness of the story - or the characters.
I'm glad I read this book; it just had some issues.
The imagery is non-stop and hugely imaginative. One feels the autobiographical nature not so much from the facts and setting - although they are certainly suggested by O'Neill's own life -- as by Baby's internal voice, which is the author's. While fully functional, she seems to inhabit a psyche that might veer into derangement at any moment.
How else could someone wonder if an unfamiliar word meant "a hole that changes places"?
This is not for everyone, and not for anyone under 16. Child drug abuse, physical abuse, and prostitution are presented without judgment, as parts of the natural world Baby inhabits. (The sex scenes are not graphic past "second base".). Even murder and suicide are matter of fact. A child might be terrified by a crocodile marionette but comforted by an abusive pimp.