Rachel's Reviews > Lullabies for Little Criminals

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill
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Oct 23, 2010

it was amazing

Heather O'Neill's 'Lullabies for Little Criminals' is a heart-wrenching and powerfully written novel. Halfway in to the novel, I could feel my heart breaking into a million pieces. I considered putting down the book before the tears in my eyes started running down my face. I was too late. 12 year old Baby had claimed a place in my heart and I wanted desperately to see her with a 'happy ending'. The story of Baby is set in the cruelest streets of Montreal riveting with pimps, drug dealers, prostitutes and abused children. Not exactly the ideal home for a little girl of Baby's age, however it's the only home Baby ever knew of with Jules, her drug addict father. Her father often leaves Baby by herself for long periods of time feeding his heroin addiction. Baby is sucked into the dark world of Montreal's streets, surviving on her wits, intelligence and luck. A beautifully constructed character who serves also as the narrator, Baby is imaginative, resourceful, funny and desperate. She often makes many philosophical quotes about quotes about childhood and society. The novel is packed with brilliant quotes which reach deep into the reader's emotions and strike beautiful imagery.
“Becoming a child again is impossible. That's what you have a legitimate reason to be upset over. Childhood is the most valuable thing that's taken away from you in life, if you think about it.”
The further Baby progresses in the story, the bleaker and darker it gets. She goes through the hardships of friendship, trying to fit in and ends up in a foster home. At this point, the reader is begging Heather O'Neill to pull Baby out of these tragic situations. Unfortunately, a turn of events led her into child prostitution. The purity and innocence of Baby is slipping away. I have had the advantage of never being exposed to Baby's hardships and circumstances, which ultimately is the reason the novel is so compelling. The plot dares to tackle a wide range of shocking themes of life in the eyes of a 12 year old. The narration is the most captivating element of the story, a child's view of the darkest streets and the world. The ending is open, leaving the reader based on their optimistic levels to hope for the best. If the ending was neatly tied up with a 'they lived happily ever after', it would've crushed the entire significance of the novel.
The authentic and wild journey of Baby's life leaves the reader with a different insight and view of society.
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