Lullabies for Little Criminals: A Novel

Paperback | April 5, 2016

byHeather O'Neill

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A new deluxe edition of the international bestseller by Heather O’Neill, the Giller-shortlisted author of Daydreams of Angels and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, featuring an original foreword from the author, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the coming-of-age story that People describes as “a vivid portrait of life on skid row.”

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 article. 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 she’s 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 girl; he wants her body and soul—and what the johns don’t take he covets for himself. At the same time, a tender and naively passionate friendship unfolds with a boy from her class at school, who has no notion of the dark claims on her—which even her father, lost on the nod, cannot totally ignore. Jules consigns her to a stint in juvie hall, and for the moment this perceived betrayal preserves Baby from terrible harm—but after that, her salvation has to be her own invention.

Channeling the artlessly affecting voice of her thirteen-year-old heroine with extraordinary accuracy and power, Heather O’Neill’s heartbreaking and wholly original debut novel blew readers away when it was first published ten years ago.  Now in a new deluxe package it is 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.

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From the Publisher

A new deluxe edition of the international bestseller by Heather O’Neill, the Giller-shortlisted author of Daydreams of Angels and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, featuring an original foreword from the author, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the coming-of-age story that People describes as “a vivid portrait of life on skid row.”...

From the Jacket

A new deluxe edition of the international bestseller by Heather O’Neill, the Giller-shortlisted author of Daydreams of Angels and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, featuring an original foreword from the author, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the coming-of-age story that People describes as “a vivid portrait of life on skid row.”...

Heather O'Neill is a Canadian novelist, poet, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist. She was born in Montreal, Quebec. O'Neill published her debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, in 2006. The novel was then selected for the 2007 edition of Canada Reads. The book also won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was sho...

other books by Heather O'Neill

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

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The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel
The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel

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Daydreams Of Angels
Daydreams Of Angels

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see all books by Heather O'Neill
Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.92 inPublished:April 5, 2016Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062468472

ISBN - 13:9780062468475

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Customer Reviews of Lullabies for Little Criminals: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must read! One of the best books I've ever read--will stay with me for years!
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You MUST read this book! This is the only book I have ever read twice! The main character captures your heart. The situation is one I have never come close to in a book. The story proves that we only know what we experience as children. I was very sad to end my relationship with the main character. I desperately wait for every book that O'Neill publishes.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking I first picked up Lullabies for Little Criminals because it was on the reading list for a class on Montreal authors that I attended at Concordia University. In the story, Baby is a bright, intelligent twelve-year-old who is motherless and lives with her heroin-addicted father in a rough area in downtown Montreal. She’s surrounded by poverty, violence, drugs, prostitution but with her childlike wonder she’s still able to see beauty in her squalid surroundings. I was struck by the sordidness of the story’s setting. I’ve lived in Montreal close to two years now so I’m familiar with the area where the story takes place but it was hard to picture a child growing up in those surroundings. A very naïve attitude on my part because I know that children are often forced to live in horrible conditions. The “lucky” ones like Baby manage to salvage part of their childhood and keep a measure of hope for their future despite the obstacles in their way. The reversal of the parent-child roles is also very present in the story. In many instances, it’s Baby who seems to have the role of caretaker in the relationship with her father Jules. Jules is impulsive, immature and selfish. He cares for Baby but he’s unable to offer the stability she needs. Later in the story when Jules’s abuse and inattention pushes Baby into the arms of the pimp Alphonse, I felt her complete vulnerability and helplessness at her inability to control her circumstances. Lullabies for Little Criminals is wonderful but heartbreaking. I felt the book got harder and harder to read but the effort was definitely worth it. It’s a harsh story but it’s not without beauty and hope.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great bookclub choice This book was heartbreaking and sad. It made me realize how children are really left to the mercy of their parents and in this case her father. This is not a feel good book, but it doesn't mean that it's not a good book. I liked it a lot and I would recommend it. But be warned its gut wrenching and part of that is because its very believable. The author did a great job with that. You just know that there are children everywhere living these messed up desperate life's by no fault of there own. And in this case not even the parents fault completely. They are a product of circumstances, environment and social class. But what it made me realize as a mother is how important a mother is in the life of a child. Especially in the early years. To be held touched, kissed, whispered to and even yelled out of love to. A mothers love or someone who fills that place for a child is so important so that that child doesn't turn to just anyone to for fill that need. This book was wonderful and great one for discussion. Great book club choice.
Date published: 2016-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really enjoyed this book I really enjoyed this book. It's well written, and even it doesn't deal with the most pleasant subject matter at all times it's still an enjoyable read.
Date published: 2016-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I felt like I Heather O'Neill really brought Baby to life. It was a page-turner! Although some of the themes in the book are quite mature and hard to get through at times, it was amazing.
Date published: 2015-10-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book! Very good book! The narration of a child dealing with the adult world is spot on. However, my only criticism is that the ending was a little too easy (if you know what mean). It was a little too simple and blah as an ending. Overall, the book was fantastic and had me hooked until the end.
Date published: 2015-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lullabies for Little Criminals Portrays a level of gritty honest so believable it makes A portrait of a life that makes you truly uncomfortable, sad and ultimately hopeful. An excellent read.
Date published: 2014-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! A really great book. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, even to those who do not really like reading.
Date published: 2014-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing A sad yet joyful look into the lives of street children. Read it from beginning to end with a turmoil of emotion.
Date published: 2014-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing A sad yet joyful look into the lives of street children. Read it from beginning to end with a turmoil of emotion.
Date published: 2014-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Insanely Amazing Lullabies for Little Criminals is a fantastic novel. It's written from the perspective of a twelve/thirteen year old young, innocent, fun girl who, in quite a short amount of time, sheds all her innocence and grows up way to fast, is forced to see a side of life that changes her forever. I do love this book but I have some major problems, and most of the things I love also get on my nerves... a lot. The writing is really different but is just, woah. The writing pushes the novel to fantastic. But it is not completely worth five whole stars. The similes are pretty extensive and add emotion to the book, they go with the writing and make it better, but - and I hate saying this because i'm kind of contradicting myself but oh well - they can lead to the readers being really aggravated and irritated and annoyed. The situation and plot and Baby's whole life - wow. It's completely realistic without pushing it and making it just like every other book out there. Lullabies for Little Criminals completely surpasses all other books in originality. It's deep and really intense without making it overly crowded, and the stories within the book are great, the way this little girl tells her life is insanely beautiful. Her life, her problems, the story- it's all extremely real and sometimes very haunting and disturbing. The ending is another one of those love it but hate it deals, because it leaves a lot of room for readers to make their own conclusions and bring their own thoughts into the mix, but it's almost too much left for the readers to decide - I guess it depends on the story and the reader, and for this book, with me, I love it because I love having that sense of mystery and you feel apart of the book, but I would like more of a strong, full ending. But Lullabies for Little Criminals is insanely heartshattering and makes you think about our lives, the reality of our world and how we see what we want. Readers reflect on their own personal childhood, what it feels like to be innocent and not open to the dark sides of life, and I pray to god that no one has to go through anything like what we experience in this book. But all in all, the deep reality may be disturbing and all too real, but it really is the writing, the young narrator and innocent lead, that make the book incredible.
Date published: 2014-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I read some of the reviews for this book and cannot understand how anyone wouldn't give this book a 5 star rating. I loved the story. I admit it was a disturbing story about a young girl and her struggles with poverty. My book had a brief autobiography. It helped explain how the author was able to get into the head of a preadolescent girl. I will definitely look for more books by Heather O'Neill.
Date published: 2014-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking Fantastic novel about a young girl growing up in the slums of Montreal. You can pick your friends but not your family.
Date published: 2013-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read A wonderfully written book about nature vs. nurture of a child on the streets of Montreal. Completely raw and magnificient.
Date published: 2013-01-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from wanted more I found the sub plots of this book just came and went. There were certain events / relationships that were covered in great, sometimes over done, amounts of detail yet others were brushed over quickly. I found it was the major themes that ultimately fell short in terms of being explored by the character. The ending was really random and explained very little in terms of the consequences of living the life she had.
Date published: 2012-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully sad and refreshing A novel too close to the truth. I've seen lives that almost mirror those in this lovely novel, in my own backyard of Little India in Toronto. It seems unreal, and although fiction, I'm certain a story such as this has been true for many young ladies. This book had me laughing and crying within pages of each other. The particular part about the chair as a toy, or the piñata had me mixed between utter sadness and pure laughter. I loved this book.
Date published: 2012-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A must read I absolutely loved this book. It drew me in even before the first chapter was over!!
Date published: 2011-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing I found this book in a book sale at a bank. I have to admit, i pulled it for the color.. but after the first sentence.. i loved it and i could not put it down. I have had friends who lived on east hastings in vancouver.. and the streets of victoria.. and the stories i have heard, this is so to the truth, that one of my friends started crying and had to put the book down. it makes you look twice at a street child, and instead of looking down at them... it makes you feel empathy. this is an amazing book....
Date published: 2011-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good book Lullabies for Little Criminals / Heather O'Neill 4 stars Baby is 11-13 years old during the events in the book, and her dad, Jules, has raised her since her mom died when she was 16 (both her parents were 15 when Baby was born). Although Jules does seem to love Baby, and they have fun together, he does a lot of drugs, so there are times when Baby is moved into foster care. She's a smart girl and she tries to be good, but as she gets older, she manages to get into more and more scrapes, including befriending a local pimp. This was really good. It's sad (but easy) to see how a good kid could get into trouble, with a neglectful parent who is more concerned about himself and getting high. You could see Baby trying to be good, and wanting to do normal "kid" stuff, but at the same time, she's pulled into an adult world. Very good book.
Date published: 2011-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating Fascinating read from cover to cover about a year in the life of a teenage girl growing up on the rough streets of Montreal. She is raised by her well meaning but negligent father, who is barely grown up himself. I was left wondering from chapter to chapter how and if this girl would pull herself out of her miserable life an was pleased by the positive outcome.
Date published: 2010-07-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from good meaning but boring. I disliked this book, a lot! I had to read it as an ISU book for grade 11, and to tell you the truth I just couldn't get into it. I think it was because, I read so many books like this before, that it didn't catch my interest. At times it had its moments but only for a couple of pages. Even though I didn't enjoythe book, the book did have a meaningful message. It was about a 13 year old girl, who gets into prositution. Every since Baby (the main chracter/the girl) was born she has lived a hard life/ a different life from others. Her farther was a heroin addict and she didn't have a mother. She has been in many foster homes and she has met a lot of people to come in and out of her life. The setting for this novel was in montreal/quebec, so hit close to home. It made me realize that prositution and children who live lives unusual from others happen everywhere and not only in places like the Bronxs and the ghetto. Overall the book had a good meaning, but it was boring.
Date published: 2010-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Riveting Lullabies by Little Criminals is a debut novel by Canadian author Heather O'Neill. As the story opens, Baby is living with her father, Jules, in Montreal, Quebec. The one contant in her pre-teen life, is that they are frequently moving apartments. She was born when her parents were just sixteen and figuring out how to grow up. Her mother died when Baby was a few months old. Her father tries his best to raise her, but his poor health and recurring heroin habit has made that almost impossible. As we follow Baby over the course of the next year and a half to two years, she grows from a girl still carrying dolls around to a street wise, though abused, young woman. I found this a very hard book to listen to. I had to repeat several sections as I felt that I must have misheard. Those "horrible things" couldn't really be happening to Baby. While my rational mind knew that this was a story, the mother in me cried copious tears for those little girls who fell through the welfare/social work gaps and ended up on the streets living just such a life. In the final chapter of the story, Baby is given a chance to escape the life she has fallen into. I like to imagine that she had the strength to leave and seek helprefuge. Is this a coming of age story, a commentary on responsible parenting, or a diatribe on the state of child welfare in Canada. For me, I found it to be mostily the first, though with the continuing cuts to our social system.... The book was read by Miriam McDonald. I felt that she enhanced my enjoyment of this novel. Lullabies for Little Criminals was a finalist for the 2007 Governor General Awards in Canada, and the winner of the Canada Reads 2007 competition.
Date published: 2010-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating This novel has been on my 'to read' list for some time and I am really glad I finally read it. O'Neill made me feel like I was right there with Baby, watching her navigate the streets/underworld of Montreal, deal with becoming a pre-teen and search for belonging. While it is not a 'feel good' story, it was very honest and showed the dark reality that many youth face. While set in Montreal a few years ago, the themes (prostitution, drugs, abuse) are still very relavant and this book may be an eye opener to some people who have never seen that side of life. So many youth face the choices and difficulties Baby is faced with - it is sad, but also reality. Definitely one of the best novels I have read recently and I definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2010-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magical, sweet, sad & inspiring I picked up this book while travelling and from the first page I was entranced by Heather O'Neills' delightful story of Baby. Her words are like tiny dancing sprites begging you to play with them. I recommend this novel to anyone who relishes in metaphores and strong female characters.
Date published: 2009-08-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Just plain depressing It seems, from reading the other reviews that I am alone in disliking this book. I could not connect with the characters and I didn't care what happened. This book evoked no feeling in me. Maybe I need to read it again?
Date published: 2009-08-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Innocence Lost This was a touching novel. Well thought-out and presented. A fantastic novel for reading and writing about, as there are many discussions that could be explored. My only problem with anything in this book has to do with the main character. Sometimes she has the understanding and perception of a great philosopher, and in the next paragraph her comprehension is almost non-existent. This didn’t detract overall from the story, as it makes Baby a little less believable, but the novel as a whole is still reality for some.
Date published: 2009-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Story, Sad Reality Heather O'Neill writes with such charisma and passion, it's hard not to love this book. She comes up with so many fantastic metaphors and similes that it's a bit like a reading a poem in parts. Baby's character is believable and sympathetic, but without the tones of self-pity you often get in books with this kind of subject. A really great read!
Date published: 2009-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from We all need to be loved Lullabies for little criminals is a very disturbing book that I could not put down. All I wanted to do was rescue Baby and give her a better life. Thanks Heather O'Neill for making this book so raw.
Date published: 2009-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrific When you step back and look at Baby's situation you might think that she's living a sad life. However, the narrator is so charismatic, quirky and childlike that you can't help but see the world through her eyes; it's a magical and unpredictable place where anything can change for the better. I wish that I had come up with all of the clever metaphors O'Neill uses in her novel. She paints such a clear picture of the neighbourhood but more importantly, of the children and characters in Baby's life. I didn't want to put the book down and I wish it had been longer so I could have dragged the experience out for longer. As it is, "Lullabies" is a beautiful book that I would reccommend any day.
Date published: 2009-07-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lullabies for little Criminals... The language use in this novel is superb. It certainly grabbed by attention from the beginning and held it right until the end, and the characters were funny and unique. However I do have a few bones to pick with it. I felt that the end of Baby's story didn't fit well with the way the story was built up. I also felt that often times Baby's naivety was inconsistent, and not in a way that's forgivable in the context of her upbringing. That being said, I do think the book is worth reading. It's a quick read and Heather Oneill has a gift for spinning poetic gems. Through the novel we can see how Baby's sullen, hollow existence can still be beautiful through the eyes of a child.
Date published: 2009-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Paisley Eyes This book is about a girl and her father living in poverty in Montreal. However it is so much more than that. This book is raw and honest and believable. But my favorite part of this book was not the characters, the plot, or the story. My favorite part was the writing and how it was so poetic "Inside the room, there were paisleys on the wallpaper. they were like the made-up eyes of silent film stars." I loved how things were observed, and how it was something only a twelve year old could think of. I really recommend this book because it is a beautifully written novel, and the characters are really great too.
Date published: 2009-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Book Raw, honest, well written. The characters so well developed. Baby has such a tragic life, but sees everything through her twelve year old eyes and is always optimistic. Powerful, special book. Not something I'd normally read, but SO glad I did. One of my favourites.
Date published: 2009-03-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A interesting story of a reality for many children. I will not reiterate what this book is about - but I will say it was most definitely a great read. O'Neill takes you on a disturbing journey through a life that is a harsh reality for many children. It is hard to fathom at times. Many face the same daily struggles and still have an innate and innocent need for guidance, love, and a sense of belonging. It is very interesting to read about the protagonists non-judgmental attitude, her relationships with disreputable adults, her inability to identify dangers, and yet how she remarkably manages to find beauty in utterly dismal situations as if she is living in a make believe world. I loved the words and disturbing imagery. Baby's quirky views and hilarious observations always kept things interesting. As the system continues to overlook her, you are still left with an sense of hope.
Date published: 2009-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me love my job again. It was easy to love the main character and i really wanted to reach out to help her. This is a story that could be so personal, yet describes the life of so many young people. Very well written. Highly, highly recomended!
Date published: 2009-03-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. On the seedy streets of the red-light district in Montreal we are observers to the lonely and depressing existence of Baby, our twelve-year-old heroin. Heroin serves to identify more than just the lead, heroic character in this story, as it also is the drug of choice for Baby’s young and irresponsible father, Jules. With her mother long since dead, and no real ties to their remaining family members, Baby and Jules must fight the mean streets defenceless and alone, their foremost challenge always basic survival. Lullabies for Little Criminals is a coming of age story, for the downtrodden, misfortunate and abandoned. By the end of the novel Baby is only thirteen years old, yet she seems to have lived a lifetime, as she transforms from a child to adolescent to adult, all within the span of two years. Desperate to find love and feel like she belongs to something or even someone, Baby is constantly changing and moulding herself to what she feels others want or need from her. She soon realizes that she is desired by some, and although they happen to be a pimp, perverted paedophiles or other wayward children, this attention is better than being alone. As she bounces from foster home to detention centre to the sketchy one-bedrooms that her father temporarily provides, a solid identity is the least of her worries. Heather O’Neill’s tumultuous upbringing in Montreal, after being abandoned by her mentally ill mother, obviously served her well when writing this gravely accurate depiction of growing up on the streets. Her descriptions of how drugs and alcohol can instantly provide a physical and emotional comfort, where there usually were none, are spot on. The portrayal of the street hierarchy, with the most neglected and down-and-out kids reigning as the supreme leaders, and how they wear their hunger and abandonment as a badge of honour, is appalling but irrefutable. Lullabies tragically flawed and pathetic characters serve as a reminder to many that destitution can be found blocks away from our cushy and privileged lives, and that the cycle of addiction and poverty is as common and unfaltering as the cycle of life. If you can stomach it, open up your eyes to a parallel reality and read this devastating work of ‘fiction.’ www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2009-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Truth in Every Tale At time, this book almost seems unbelieveable, but with teen pregnancy being as high as it is, it makes it real. Baby (that's actually her name) is the narrator of Lullabies. It takes place from when she's 11 to about 14. Baby lives with her father, who is only 15 years older than she is. Baby's mom and day obviously were very young when they had her, and Baby's mother died soon after she was born. Now she is being raised by a father who can barely take care oh himself. They move more than alot, usually within the same city though. Baby is extremely clingy with her father, and since she hangs out with his friends, she doesn't think much of people her own age. She's also a troublemaker, but since her father often uses drugs, she doesn't have the guidance she needs from him. So it's not a total surprise when she starts dating an older guy, and sleeping with him, and eventually starts using drugs. At times, it does seem a bit far fetched that someoner her age would do these things, or even think about them, but then when you think of what Baby has been exposed to, you realize this does happen in everyday life. As bad as it is. I really enjoyed this book. I think the actual writing was well done and the characters were explained in such a way that you can almost picture people you know being like this. Very well done!
Date published: 2009-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lullabies For Little Criminals It was amazing! Really great book!! I couldnt believe how this story ended, and i couldnt believe all the horrific things this young girl had to go thro, Her father is a drug addict, and its just scary to think that there are more kids out there, that have to go thro this!!!!!
Date published: 2008-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant I would recommend this novel to anyone. It's a gem.
Date published: 2008-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Read PIcked this up on a whim @ my local supermarket.... read a few pages and was hooked, I then spent all my free time that weekend finishing this book, I was blown away. Crawl inside the mind of a child from a broken home and follow her through this tragic story feel her love for her father, the confusion over men and sex as well as her outlook on drugs. Just a great great read.
Date published: 2008-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An inspiring read. Heather Oneill grabs you and takes each reader on a journey through the life of a young wounded girl. Her gripping tales of life as a poor almost orphaned child are emotional, funny and sorrowfull. The book puts you behind 12 year old eyes and allows you to be as confused as a child in that situation would be. Beautifully disturbing, and inspirational. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the human spirit. Josh
Date published: 2008-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from better than I expected! I couldn't put this down at all. I began it in the morning, and didn't stop until it was done. Such a gripping tale of lost innocence. I found it just so unbelievable & disturbing.I didn't even know what heiroin was when I was 12 yrs old. It was a shocking tale, and I was rooting for both Jules & Baby the entire way.
Date published: 2008-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully Written I got this book after reading O'Neill's piece in Toronto Life in my Creative Writing course. This is an amazing book - the words are so beautiful and the characters are completely heartbreaking and spirited at the same time. It is sometimes difficult to read with some rather shocking imagery at times, but in general this is a beautiful book. I read it in three days, it was hard to keep my eyes off of it!
Date published: 2008-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic and melancholy Great canadian novel. Its the kind of book that makes you a bit sad but you can't put it down.
Date published: 2008-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very unique read! This book was shocking in some ways - some extremely heavy and surprising subject matter addressed in a frank and non-judgemental manner. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at this way of life in the way O'Neill presents it; very well done.
Date published: 2008-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disturbing, compelling, touching Terrific romp through the mind, eyes, neighbourhood and sexuality of Baby, the pubescent daughter of an ineffective young heroin-addicted man living in downtown Montreal. I was touched by Baby's innocence, shocked at the endless series of blows unleashed by life, charmed by her wit and wry observations and puzzled by her views of the adults in her life. This book throws a light into the cheap and dirty underworld of our inner cities, yet retains hope for the children brutally affected, and understanding of the many traumatized adults we may encounter.
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read Heather Oneill has written a fantastic book. The story itself is so sad, but you don't even realize it when you're reading it unless the author wants you to. You laugh and cry and everyone can relate to some part of the book...peer pressure, the trials and tribulations of growing up, seeking approval and love, and just having fun and accepting your situation. A must read.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful and Sad Sometimes a book manages to touch your heart so much that it's nearly impossible to get the stark, disturbing yet painfully beautiful images out of your head long after the last page has been turned. For me, one of those books is Heather O'Neill's brilliant, gorgeous, melancholy, heartbreaking "Lullabies for Little Criminals", which tells the aching, yearning story of 12 year-old Baby and her young, irresponsible father Jules. Baby for me, was one of the most realistic protagonists I've ever encountered. Her ability to express in such a heartfelt way, what it means to be caught in the middle of the dangerous world of adulthood and the comforting world of innocence is absolutely astounding. While still being a child, she is forced to grow up early and make difficult grown-up decisions about her life, some which are right, but most which are wrong. This combined with her child-like descriptions of the world around her, and her juvenile proclamations ("I love the word butterfly," she exclaims when recieving the gift of a butterfly knife from her much older lover) make for a compelling novel that is nearly impossible to put down. Not only did I recognize the wounds of Baby's life, but this novel helped me sort out the wounds and joys of my own in the process. Without any spoilers, this book ends on a note that is difficult to determine but after reading the novel, it makes sense and feels as though it draws to a logical conclusion that is both happy and sad. Everyone should read this book.
Date published: 2008-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In my top 10 favourite books This book is delicious from beginning to end. The characters are still real to me even three months after reading it. The story is alive in this little corner of my mind and it resurrects itself daily when I see things that remind me of it, like this inner city street I go down on my way home with this liquor store on it with this weird, oddly placed neon heart over the entrance which is usually crowded with homeless people and kids. The only difference between this book and the story of those people is that theirs isn't written down yet. This book is crisp, and real and full of thoughts that shouldn't be left on the shelf.
Date published: 2007-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! This book made me realize how lucky I am to have my life. It made me more grateful for everything my parents did for me. This book is truly amazing and will always be one of my favourite books.
Date published: 2007-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Yearning to Belong An achingly beautiful novel about Baby, 12 years old, street smart and innocent in her need for love and a place "to belong". Under the grime, the prostitution, the kid who dissociates from the ugly realities, is the child who "wants to be a good kid", and a system which doesn't see her. But, her voice, oh, the voice in this novel... it is so compelling. She is every teenager who hasn't been cut a break, but in spite of it survives... so we hope with her. Teachers who teach these kids will love this book, people who know these kids will love this book. Read Heather O'Neill's bio before you start - it tells you a lot. In primary school, one of the familiar and best loved themes in books, is "Home is Best" and its resulting quest. Join Baby on hers and you won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2007-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read This book is absolutly fantastic! For any whom are working in the field of social work, this is a great read and will leave you wanting to hear more! One of the better books I have read this year.
Date published: 2007-05-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Darkie, but a Goodie I heard of Heather O’Neill’s work, as I’m a fan of CBC Radio’s “Wiretap.” Having heard her short stories over the airwaves, I thought I’d check out this new book. I’m not overly fond of fiction, but I thought this novel was great. I knew beforehand it was a little on the strange side. But, after the revulsion I felt from reading the oft-touted ‘Oryx & Crake’ by M. Atwood, I can safely say this story was nowhere near that stomach turning. Seeing the world (confined and dark as it is) through they eyes of the main character was strange and fascinating. Heather paints a vivid and colourful world as she describes the disparaging experiences of a teenage girl in Montreal. The story was simple and complex at the same time. Adult themes abound (drug use, prostitution, violence), but if you don’t think teenagers see the same or worse in the average music video you live in a dream world. The character’s experiences are disturbing at times, but everyone knows at least one person at some time in their lives who has dealt with poverty, urban crime, or sexual pressures on young women. A somewhat twisted ‘coming of age’ story, Lullabies for Little Criminals was an easy read and worth a look. Probably not the best book for you or your teenage kids if you’re conservative, but if you think Lord of the Flies is acceptable reading, I doubt you’d have much trouble with this one.
Date published: 2007-05-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Waste of time and money I read a review of this novel which stated that if you only read one book this year - this is the one to read. If this is the best there is then we are in trouble. It is a piece of crap. I have never been more disappointed in a book in my entire life. I thought it might get better so I kept on reading. It didn't and I am sorry that the time I wasted can not be recovered.
Date published: 2007-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hauntingly beautiful This novel was so beautifully written I found myself re-reading paragraphs. The way the author describes the characters in the novel made me keep forgetting that it was just a story. The characters, settings etc. were painted so well that I felt as if I was watching a movie instead of reading a novel. To watch "Baby" go through her loss of innocence was sad yet touching. It shows you the harsh life that lots of young children go through. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2007-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Breathtaking First Novel I had to continually remind myself that the characters were fictional, as this amazing novel reads like a memoir. Sad and funny. I loved it. A must read!!!
Date published: 2007-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing A riveting read with some breathtaking writing. Some of the descriptions and observations of Baby, the central character, stopped me in my tracks. I wanted to reread the book before I'd even finished it.
Date published: 2007-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Definite Page Turner I couldn't put this book down. It is a compelling tale of a 12 year olds life on the street. This book paints a realistic picture of how a child could become homeless and the means they must take to survive. The story is so realistic that it is heartbreaking - so heartbreaking that I almost wished that I hadn't picked it up. The author did a brilliant job of giving us a glimpse into what goes through the mind of a child, forced to live in a world of adults.
Date published: 2007-01-26

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Editorial Reviews

“A disturbing, heartbreaking novel… redeemed by a powerful voice, vivid characters and gritty realism. This is a stunning book from a first-time author.”