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Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel Paperback – Oct 5 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (Oct. 5 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060875070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060875077
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 14.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Nickel on Jan. 19 2011
Format: Paperback
I picked this audiobook without knowing anything at all about it, so it was all a surprise to me. Now, a few days later, I have no doubt that this tragicomic book will make my top 5 list for 2011. I listened to this audiobook, and then right out and bought a paper copy. I have ordered copies for a couple of people in my family who I think will also really like it. It's that good.

The narrator of Lullabies for Little Criminals seems to be an adult retelling the events following her twelfth birthday. Her fifteen year old parents labeled her with the unfortunate name of Baby, which was meant to be ironic and she was told that it meant she was "cool and gorgeous." Her mom died while she was a baby, and she had been raised by her childlike, dysfunctional heroin addicted father, Jules in a series of seedy hotels in Montreal. For the first part of the book, I found Baby's voice utterly charming and rather funny. However, as the story progressed and Baby's life spiralled out of control, I realized that this book was significantly more serious than I had originally expected. Baby's voice, however, remained constant throughout--poetic, keenly observant, beautifully sad and vivid, both wry and winsome at the same time. Baby is smitten with low-lifes and bohemians, and this book is full of them--guidance from healthy adults is sorely missing.

O'Neill is shrewdly accurate in capturing the dialogue of this culture. The reader of this audiobook, Miriam McDonald, captured the tone perfectly. The author gives us a view of the gritty side of Montreal seen through the eyes of a twelve-year old, full of her innocence and imagination. Beyond that, the writing was a delight to both hear and read. I just didn't want this book to end, which is unusual for me.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By momo_adachi on April 27 2008
Format: Paperback
I hadn't heard anything about this novel before I read it. I became interested in it based on the plot and intrigued by its status as the winner of Canada Reads. As it turns out, I absolutely devoured this novel in just over a day during my Christmas holidays. As a student, it's such a treat to read something that means something to me that I can pick apart and keep the parts of the novel that I like without it becoming sterile and overkilled. I love this novel entirely, and that's what I found while reading it.

What I find beautiful about this book is what I have found a lot of people criticize about it. For one, that the characters all seem overly naive and simplistic and everything seems taken in stride. I found this to be a haunting layer to the novel in that Baby, the protagonist, is only 12. She longs for childhood, she longs to see things through a child's eyes, despite that it becomes increasingly difficult for her too. The almost lighthearted tone of her relationship with her father seems purposeful, to project a sort of longing for simplicity in her life. As well, a lack of understanding and most importantly, to demonstrate that these misfortunes, tragedies and sadnesses happen to Baby all the time. This is her life. This is what she's used to. The simplicity of her vision reflects that so perfectly and seems a clear reason for the first-person narration.

Something else that people criticize about "Lullabies" is the lack of dramatic tension, the fact that it is obvious nothing happens to Baby and so the novel seems boring and predictable. While I was reading this, I found the fact that she doesn't die (or worse) incredible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kel Jo on May 9 2012
Format: Paperback
Looking at the world through the eyes of the narrator pulls you into a world of poverty, drug abuse and prostitution but what is weird is that it isn't a negative/heavy read. I found it very well written and couldn't put it down
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One is really drawn in, rooting for Baby, whose childhood is is not a land of comfort, magic or security. She survives because of her strength and instincts. A book about love, deprivation and strength.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book held me in an emotionally grip like none I have ever read. It was both exhausting and uplifting at the same time. I have recently moved from fictional thrillers to more literary fiction and books like this are my reward.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book after browsing at my local bookstore and seeing it was a recommendation from staff. I used to work with addicted adults and (fortunately) was very unaware of the impacts of "street life and addiction" to children born to parent(s) of this lifestyle. A very simple read and may be suitable for teens. I couldn't book the down and as I read I was torn between smiles and tears as "Baby" described her life and her simple view of her world. She unconditionally loved her Dad and was unaware of his actually being severely neglectful. "Jules" loved his little girl too but had no idea how to raise a child. Her own evolution into the street underworld a sad reality.
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By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on July 5 2012
Format: Paperback
Heather O'Neill's novel reads like a raw and grimy account of a girl, ironically named Baby, who grows up with no mother, an addict father, and an uncanny ability to survive even the most desperate of circumstances. Set in Montreal's red-light district, "Lullabies for Little Criminals" delves into the underbelly of both a city and its culture through the eyes of its adolescent protagonist.

O'Neill writes with beautiful sadness and tells a compelling story. Her appreciation for little kindnesses and glimpses of "normalcy" provide insight into a world that few authors can authentically describe.
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