Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill

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.

There is a wonderful profile about Heather O'Neill by Quill & Quire in the Novemember 2006 issue.

Click here to Browse Inside: Lullabies for Little Criminals.

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me this review copy.

This is my 19th read for the Canadian Book  Challenge.
Visit The Book Mine Set to see what other participants have been reading.

1 comment:

Wanda said...

My daughter's friend read this one when it first came out and went on quite a bit about it. Haven't quite gotten around to it yet, but I will eventually. Glad to hear you liked it but I think I'll avoid the audio version; too many pauses for thought with LfLC by the sounds of things.

Great job with the CBC3 challenge! Don't think I'll get as many read this year as last ...