Kyli's Reviews > Lullabies for Little Criminals

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill
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's review
Jul 30, 2012

it was amazing
Read from July 30 to August 01, 2012

This book was beautifully written - the world it created was so vivid and colorful. Except when I say it was colorful, it was a million different shades of black, brown, and grey - kind of like a dirty, stained quilt. It was haunting and hard to read at times, because I immediately connected to Baby and wanted the best for her. By the end of the novel, I wanted to adopt her myself.

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.

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