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Lullabies for Little Criminals
Cover of Lullabies for Little Criminals
Lullabies for Little Criminals
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Heather O'Neill dazzles with a first novel of extraordinary prescience and power, a subtly understated yet searingly effective story of a young life on the streets--and the strength, wits, and luck...
Heather O'Neill dazzles with a first novel of extraordinary prescience and power, a subtly understated yet searingly effective story of a young life on the streets--and the strength, wits, and luck...
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Description-

  • Heather O'Neill dazzles with a first novel of extraordinary prescience and power, a subtly understated yet searingly effective story of a young life on the streets--and the strength, wits, and luck necessary for survival.

    At thirteen, Baby vacillates between childhood comforts and adult temptation: still young enough to drag her dolls around in a vinyl suitcase yet old enough to know more than she should about urban cruelties. Motherless, she lives with her father, Jules, who takes better care of his heroin habit than he does of his daughter. Baby's gift is a genius for spinning stories and for cherishing the small crumbs of happiness that fall into her lap. But her blossoming beauty has captured the attention of a charismatic and dangerous local pimp who runs an army of sad, slavishly devoted girls--a volatile situation even the normally oblivious Jules cannot ignore. And when an escape disguised as betrayal threatens to crush Baby's spirit, she will ultimately realize that the power of salvation rests in her hands alone.

About the Author-

  • HEATHER O'NEILL is a novelist, short-story writer and essayist. Her work, which includes Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Daydreams of Angels, has been shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize in two consecutive years, and has won CBC Canada Reads, the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and the Danuta Gleed Award. Born and raised in Montreal, O'Neill lives there today with her daughter.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 7, 2006
    In her debut novel, This American Life
    contributor O'Neill offers a narrator, Baby, coming of age in Montreal just before her 12th birthday. Her mother is long dead. Her father, Jules, is a junkie who shuttles her from crumbling hotels to rotting apartments, his short-term work or moneymaking schemes always undermined by his rage and paranoia. Baby tries to screen out the bad parts by hanging out at the community center and in other kids' apartments, by focusing on school when she can and by taking mushrooms and the like. (She finds sex mostly painful.) Stints in foster care, family services and juvenile detention ("nostalgia could kill you there") usually end in Jules's return and his increasingly erratic behavior. Baby's intelligence and self-awareness can't protect her from parental and kid-on-kid violence, or from the seductive power of being desired by Alphonse, a charismatic predator, on the one hand, and by Xavier, an idealistic classmate, on the other. When her lives collide, Baby faces choices she is not equipped to make. O'Neill's vivid prose owes a debt to Donna Tartt's The Little Friend
    ; the plot has a staccato feel that's appropriate but that doesn't coalesce. Baby's precocious introspection, however, feels pitch perfect, and the book's final pages are tear-jerkingly effective.

  • People "A vivid portrait of life on skid row."
  • OK!, five stars "A poignant tale.... O'Neill brings the setting to life."
  • David Rakoff, author of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish "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."
  • Quill & Quire (Canada) "A nuanced, endearing coming-of-age novel you won't want to miss."
  • Independent (London) "Vivid and poignant.... A deeply moving and troubling novel."
  • Montreal Review of Books "O'Neill is a tragicomedienne par excellence.... You will not want to miss this tender depiction of some very mean streets."
  • Booklist "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."
  • Kirkus "A winsome debut novel."
  • Publishers Weekly "Baby's precocious introspection feels pitch perfect.... Tear-jerkingly effective."
  • Waterstones Books Quarterly (London) "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."
  • RebelHousewife.com "A disturbing, heartbreaking novel... redeemed by a powerful voice, vivid characters and gritty realism. This is a stunning book from a first-time author."

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    HarperCollins Canada
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