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The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  2,848 Ratings  ·  433 Reviews
Heather O’Neill charmed readers inthe hundreds of thousandswith her sleeper hit, Lullabies for Little Criminals, which documented with a rare and elusive magic the life of a young dreamer on the streets of Montreal. Now, in The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, she returns to the grubby, enchanted city with a light and profound tale of the vice of fame and the ties of family.

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published April 24th 2014)
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Kiana Sibun “You should beware of motherless children. They will eat you alive. You will never be loved by anyone the way that you will be loved by a motherless…more“You should beware of motherless children. They will eat you alive. You will never be loved by anyone the way that you will be loved by a motherless child.” (less)

Community Reviews

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i just loved this book.

it's taken me a while to sit down and write a review for this, because my love for it is difficult to put into words, it's just something inescapable, familial. it's definitely not a book for everyone. her writing style is something i can see being off-putting to some readers, but it just works for me - all that crowded poetic prose coming in just shy of being overworked. it seethes.

she also writes amazing this one, we have nicholas and nouschka tremblay - a
Jun 21, 2014 Oriana rated it it was amazing
I am so behind on reviews, it's becoming embarrassing.

It's hard because I loved this book SO MUCH, so I don't want to just dash off some quickie thing, but the fact remains that I don't have time to envision and execute a review that's as wonderful as this book deserves. So here's what we're going to do, in three steps:

First you're going to read karen's review, which says lots of the things I would have said anyway, but in a brillianter way.

Second I'm going to do a very short summarizing.

NOTE: If I could give a half-star, this would be a 2.5 star rating. Because of certain factors, I am bumping the rating up to 3 stars, because a 2 rating feels a little low.

First, let me say that I love a good figure of speech. Give me an unusual simile or metaphor that I would never have considered but is absolutely perfect, and I'm in heaven. And O'Neill has some amazing similes, ones that are truly inspired and make me smile. I loved them.

My problems with this book begin with the way O'Neill
Jennifer Brown
Apr 23, 2014 Jennifer Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My friend won this book on Facebook, and gave it to me to read. I made a Goodreads account just so I could write this pre review (I'm excited that I got the book before it came out). I have never read Heather O'Neill's work before, but now I will go straight to Lullabies for Little Criminals.
This book blew me away! The writing style was absolutely beautiful, full of wonderful metaphors about love and a grungy city. My parents are from Montreal, and it is amazing to see how the culture from that
It bothers me that the girl on the cover is a blonde when Nouschka has black hair. I suppose in the scheme of things, this is unimportant, but I thought about it more than once. So you could say, there were a few times when it preoccupied my mind. Which is not not important. Hm.

The other thing is, the hailstorm of similes. Like an outbreak. Like an invasion. Like a cat feverishly clawing away at a scratching post. Like an ambitious tribe of fire ants taking over a picnic. Like a circus with too
Nov 18, 2014 Ruthie rated it it was amazing
There are two compelling reasons to read this book. First is the story - a rather disturbing, wild tale of the twin children of a fallen Quebecois singing star. The children have been abandoned by both parents and although they live with their grandfather, they are rather feral, disturbingly emotionally dependent and self-destructive. The story takes place in the St. Laurent neighborhood and the latest separation referendum is the backdrop and a catalyst. It was hard to watch these characters co ...more
Anna Bunce
Oct 31, 2014 Anna Bunce rated it it was ok
You know the manic pixie dream girl trope? Well this book didn't just have the manic pixie dream girl, but a manic pixie dream twin brother, manic pixie dream grandfather, manic pixie dream father, manic pixie dream lover and quite frankly it just got exhausting.

The book seemed like a parody of itself, everything that happened and everyone was so big, dramatic, and sudden. It edged on romanticizing poverty. While Healther O'Neill's style was different and refreshing (although it did take me a w
Aug 25, 2016 Krista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, 2014

We were all descended from orphans in Quebec. Before I'd dropped out of high school, I remembered reading about how ships full of girls were sent from Paris to New France to marry the inhabitants. They stepped off the boat with puke on their dresses and stood on the docks, waiting to be chosen.

They were pregnant before they even had a chance to unpack their bags. They didn't want this. They didn't want to populate this horrible land that was snow and rocks and skinny wolves. They spoke to their
Nov 20, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
I've been nibbling on this for almost two weeks, long enough the B asked me why it was taking so long for me to read it - was it awful or what? No, in fact it was so freaking good I just couldn't bear to read more than a few pages at a time so I could make it last longer. Basically, O'Neill has now done for dysfunctional families, abusive marriage, and possible schizophrenia in this book what she did for child prostitution & heroin use in Lullabies for Little Criminals; written about it a br ...more
Jan 28, 2015 Barry rated it it was amazing
I loved her first novel, 'Lullabies for Little Criminals,' and am thrilled to say that TGWWSN ups the ante yet again! I love her use of metaphor, the vivid images that she creates with the stringing together of three or four seemingly ambiguous words that hit the bullseye each and every time. Each chapter has the image of a cat on its first page, and her delightful images of these felines was a quirk that I came to look forward to! I fell in love with Nouschka and Nicholas, even found myself war ...more
May 29, 2014 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Nothing I can say will do justice to this book. It was absolutely fantastic. At the first third I was excited and started thinking of Heather O'Neill as the female Canadian equivalent of Bukowski. And then I read the second third. And then the last. And I realized, O'Neill is better than that. All Bukowski could do was give you a portrait of someone NOT to be. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is the hand that reaches into that pit and helps you pull yourself out; it'll take some strength, and you ...more
Vikki VanSickle
I admit I am one of few people who have not yet read Lullabies for Little Criminals, but I will be seeking it out shortly after finishing this. I came to this book with no preconceived notions of O'Neill as a writer, only that people love her work. I am now one of those people who love her work. Noushka's world is so vibrant and visceral- I found myself simultaneously horrified and charmed by her circumstances. She is a narrator to cheer for, a young woman who wants to break free of her lifestyl ...more
3.5-stars, really.

oui ou non? ce est une question facile avec pas de réponses faciles. yes or no? it is a simple question with no easy answers. this premise seems to be the heart of the novel for me.

o'neill weaves the politics of the 1995 quebec referendum into this novel. the referendum, for those unfamiliar, asked citizens in quebec if they should remain as a part of canada, or become an independent state? in english, the ballot read: "Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after ha
Jakey Gee
Oct 20, 2014 Jakey Gee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
[From the Canadian Giller Prize Shortlist 2014]

I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. Its brassy UK cover looks a bit like a hair straighteners ad and that ‘The Girl Who…’ title is uncomfortably close to the ‘Man Who Fell Out of the Window and Get Back in the Window I Said Get Back You Tiresome Kooky Provincial Bookclub-Oriented Twat’. Worry not.

It’s often surreal and presents a picaresque, urban folklore-like world – ordinary rules suspected. People pull guns. They steal cars. They pa
Angela Auclair
Jul 13, 2014 Angela Auclair rated it it was amazing
I finished this book a week ago and I am still thinking about it. I think having grown up in Quebec, so many pieces of this story resonate with me. The fact that the book started with a reference to Petula Clark, yes, the singer, who made friends with my mother over our pet goose in rural Quebec while pregnant with me, had me thinking that this book was going somewhere special. And it did.
I could smell the apartment they lived in. I know the bikers O'Neill describes. The relationship between No
leslie nikole
Apr 22, 2014 leslie nikole rated it it was amazing
If you liked her debut novel, O’Neill’s second project “The Girl Who Was Saturday Night” will definitely be enjoyable. If you live in Montreal, you’ll love it even more. As an Anglophone born to immigrant parents, such a unique experience and upbringing has never had enough room for me to explore Quebecois culture (because at most times someone in government was trying to shove it down my throat). “The Girl Who Was Saturday Night” does not come off as a historical fiction, but it definitely loom ...more
Jun 27, 2014 Joanna rated it it was ok
I was lucky enough to get a free copy of this book as a First Reads reviewer. I really wanted to love this book, the first chapter was a joy to read it was evocative, interesting, well-written, poetic and drew wonderful pictures in my mind. I continued to love the writing style but for me the plot just didn't really go anywhere.

I think this may be down to it not being a good fit between reader and book. The characterisation was brilliant and Heather O'Neill had a cast of interesting, likeable ch
Nikki Stafford
Mar 09, 2015 Nikki Stafford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could wrap this book around me like a blanket and take it to bed with me, I would. I loved this book SO much, and you really have to experience it to understand why; a plot synopsis simply wouldn't do it justice. Heather O'Neill has taken this broken family and made them the result of hundreds of years of Quebecois history, a family that seems to be in splinters, and yet is so tied to one another, so connected through trauma and heartbreak, that no matter what they do, they just can't leave ...more
Ben Babcock
Normally when I love a book, I inhale it, reading it so quickly that it’s gone before I realize how much I should cherish this unique experience of reading it for the first time. It took me a little longer than normal to read The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, enough that I started to savour it. Each brief, cleverly-named chapter was a small episode in the life of Nouschka Tremblay. And it was perfect, for I did indeed love this book.

I loved Heather O’Neill’s first novel, Lullabies for Little Cri
Karen M
Jun 02, 2014 Karen M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
I almost finished this book standing at a subway station even though I had somewhere to be. Trust me, I tried. I stood in the station for 20 minutes reading before I could tear myself away and get on with my tasks. I finished it as soon as I could when I got home and I just sat there for a while after I was done, feeling the impact of the book. It tugged at my heartstrings. With The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, Heather O’Neill has created a strong group of sympathetic characters and touches poig ...more
Jessica Steidl
Oct 06, 2016 Jessica Steidl rated it it was amazing
And with that, I continue to be completely in love with Heather O'Neill
Doriana Bisegna
May 25, 2014 Doriana Bisegna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heather O'Neill is no one hit wonder. Her new novel kept me glued to the page, had me cheering on the main characters and loving every moment of exploring Montreal right along with them.

Set in 1995, the year of the referendum, added another element to the story which heightened the already dramatic story of twins Nouschka and Nicolas Tremblay. Children of a famous Quebecois folk singer, they are left on their own after their father becomes imprisoned. Their lives are not easy and being identica
Harpercollins Canada
Since reading Lullabies For Little Criminals in 2007, I have been a huge fan of Heather O’Neill. But if you look at my list of favourite novels (including both of her novels, plus The Enchanted and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, to name a few) this is no surprise. I love metaphors. I love similes. The higher a book is on my list of favourites, the more likely it is that there are pages dog-eared and quotes underlined.

While reading The Girl Who Was Saturday Night on Toronto transit, I found
Oct 09, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's like a box of special gourmet cookies. You bought them on an impulse - you read a review that they were really amazing. And now there they are - sitting on the kitchen counter. Calling to you. And you're on a diet. Surely just one won't hurt. There's no one to tell, except the grey cat who slinks through the hallway like a shadow - or some former tenants conscience.

So you eat them, one a day until they are all gone, and all you are left with is the memories of how decadent and delicious the
May 14, 2014 Scannercats rated it really liked it
Another great book from Heather O'Neill.

O'Neill is one of those rare authors who can write in such an effortless, unassuming way. I admire her ability to describe such squalor and heartbreak in such a beautiful way. She's one of those authors who makes you put down the book while reading so you can reflect on what a perfect sentence or notion you just stumbled upon.

Like Baby, Nouschka Trembley is an enticing narrator who bring us into her world of chaos and beauty without pretension. We are priv
Oct 13, 2014 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel completely swept me away into the world of the Tremblays, little Nouschka and Nicolas and the messy, messy Etienne. Even though the Montreal I know is nothing like the one O'Neill describes, I was wholly in O'Neill's Montreal while reading this book. The world and characters she created was so vivid, so detailed. I couldn't put this book down -- definitely my favourite read so far this year.
Dec 23, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I liked this but I adored her first novel and this just was missing something for me--I don't quite know what. And it was forever between this and her first novel so I guess I have to wait forever again to see what she does next. Fie!!
May 02, 2014 Tara rated it really liked it
I'm so charmed by this tale. It was the perfect thing to read on a VIA train to Montreal. It felt like reading postcards from the most romantic of young people, as full of dreams as they are of hopelessness.
Nov 01, 2015 Alexa rated it liked it
Shelves: fab-15
An oddly quirky reading experience, full of the most unusually delightful descriptions and metaphors. The story simultaneously manages an immediacy and an absurdist lack of reality that is very discombobulating.
Selina Young
Jan 13, 2015 Selina Young rated it liked it
I think this book will grow on me as I reflect and discuss. There's more substance than I realize having just finished it.
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Heather O'Neill was born in Montreal and attended McGill University.

She published her debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, in 2006. The novel won the Canada Reads competition (2007) and was awarded the Hugh Maclennan Award (2007). It was nominated for eight other awards included the Orange Prize, the Governor General's Award and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize. It was an international bes
More about Heather O'Neill...

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“Oh, we had a lot of sex back then in Montreal; it wasn’t just me. Blame it on the cold. The roses in everyone’s cheeks made them seem way more appealing than they actually were. We confused the indoors with intimacy and electric heating with connection.” 10 likes
“On of the reasons that I wanted to study literature was because it exposed everything. Writers looked for secrets that had never been mined. Every writer has to invent their own magical language, in order to describe the indescribable. They might seem to be writing in French, English, or Spanish, but really they were writing in the language of butterflies, crows, and hanged men.” 10 likes
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