Customer Reviews


34 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (7)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wry and winsome tragicomedy
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...
Published on Jan. 19 2011 by J. Nickel

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well-written but a bit flat
[Cross-posted on LibraryThing]

In Lullabies, we follow twelve-year-old Baby as she comes of age in the red light district of Montreal surrounded by drug addicts, pimps, and other neglected children. Her father is a junkie who can't seem to kick his habit and doesn't see the effect it has on his daughter. Her mother died when she was a baby and left a void that...
Published on Sept. 8 2009 by Andrea


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well-written but a bit flat, Sept. 8 2009
By 
Andrea (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (Paperback)
[Cross-posted on LibraryThing]

In Lullabies, we follow twelve-year-old Baby as she comes of age in the red light district of Montreal surrounded by drug addicts, pimps, and other neglected children. Her father is a junkie who can't seem to kick his habit and doesn't see the effect it has on his daughter. Her mother died when she was a baby and left a void that Baby constantly tries to fill in completely inappropriate ways.

Baby's story is heartbreaking and it's unsettling to read about a twelve-year-old being taken advantage of by pimps and trying to score heroin in a night club. There were times as I was reading that I'd have to remind myself that all of these adult things are being recounted by a child. The story was very well-written and it had moments that were genuinely funny. I enjoyed reading it (as much you can 'enjoy' a book about sad things) but ultimately, it didn't move me as much as I'd thought it would. Despite the subject matter being so heavy and all of these things happening to Baby that would have a big emotional impact on her, they are told in such a matter-of-fact, sort of detached way that it was hard to really connect with it.

I also got a sense that the author was holding something back. As Baby gets deeper and deeper into bad situations, you keep expecting the consequences to get worse and something really terrible to happen because in reality, they certainly would for a girl doing the things she does. But O'Neill seems to avoid going too deep. She sets it up, then pulls back. This was my issue with the ending as well. *Minor spoiler alert* The book seemed to be building up towards a dramatic climax, you think things can't possibly get worse for Baby, and then suddenly, she's free and all is well (relatively speaking). The means of her escape is way too convenient and the whole thing felt like a cop-out. *End spoiler* Maybe O'Neill didn't want to drag readers through all that muck and leave them without hope at the end but I think that could have been managed in a way that would have stayed true to the rest of the story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wry and winsome tragicomedy, Jan. 19 2011
By 
J. Nickel (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (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. Unfortunately for us, thus far Lullabies is O'Neill's only novel.

While I widely recommend this book, it isn't for every reader, despite winning the CBC Canada Reads competition in 2007. Readers who are highly sensitive to swearing will quickly be turned off. The bad language, however, is not gratuitous, but an accurate portrayal of the language of her world. Further, the book dives deep into the nasty side of life, including drug addictions and child prostitution. But unless you're extremely squeamish about these topics, I urge you to give this book a try.

Lullabies for Little Criminals was nominated for the Orange Prize, Governor General's Award, IMPAC Dublin Literary award, and a whole slew of other prizes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, April 28 2010
By 
Heather Pearson "Heather" (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (Paperback)
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.

CutTotal Constant Order
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of 2006, Feb. 7 2007
By 
Kelly Rossiter (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (Paperback)
Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals was one of the best books I read from the 2006 season. It is the story of Baby, a 12 year old girl who lives with her heroin addicted father Jules. They live perilous lives, but Baby doesn't mind because she loves her dad and they are together. When Jules goes into rehab Baby is placed in foster care and her life spirals away from what little protection and stability it had The narrative voice of this twelve year old was completely believable. O'Neill captures the essence of the child teetering on the edge of a very nasty adulthood. The little girl who sits down and plays with dolls after turning tricks is heartbreaking. Baby's relationship with the nerdy kid Xavier in her class is one of the joys of the book. With him she can be a child, have a friend, be openly as smart as she is and feel the stirrings of first love (even though she is already a prostitute). This is a book that you sometimes have to put down and walk away from, but you always come back because the writing is so sharp and clear and the character of Baby is so well drawn that you really care about what happens to her.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance... Sheer Brilliance, April 27 2008
By 
momo_adachi (Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (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. Her ability to survive in this world and her dependence on luck and wit without even realizing she needs to depend on these things is amazingly and accurately portrayed.

All of these episodic events in her life are completely horrendous, all the other side characters are so tragic, all the adults are so selfish. And yet, the book is so completely beautiful that it's almost easy for us as readers to be caught up in the sweeping imagery that eclipses the horror story of this novel. Yet, gruesome, difficult-to-handle scenes pull us back in and remind us that this is Baby's brutal reality, something that she managed to find beautiful when she was 12.

O'Neill handles delicate characters with often rough, unsympathetic hands and yet, there is sympathy in even the most minute child in the novel. She walks a perfect line between tragic and gorgeous and does it so eloquently, I was in awe.

There are too many reasons to love this book. Read it and see why for yourself.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, May 9 2012
By 
Kel Jo (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (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
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ,,,,Blew me away,,,, Aug. 6 2007
By 
Jan Moore (ONTARIO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (Paperback)
,,,Something about the title appealed to me right away,,this book had me hooked from the first page. Not only was the story of Baby so fascinating but the descriptions of every day street life were wonderfully written, in such an unusual style, it had me stopping to read paragraphs over again,,they delighted me so much,,,. I could not put it down,,,and it stayed with me for months after. You come to care about Baby,,and can feel her hopelessness in the situation she is in,,yet also begin to feel compassion for her young,abusive,immature addicted Father who doesnt know any better. What got me, apart from the main theme of street life and child abuse of course,,,was the fact that Baby thought that social workers and fosters parents really cared about her welfare, but soon realised it was just a job to them,,and she wasnt special afterall. You get to understand why she turns to drugs for comfort,,,all cleverly told thru a 12yr olds eyes,,it is riveting reading.
Baby is still in my thoughts every so often. My daughter's too,,she read it and loved it just as I did. Heather O'Neill's novel is brilliant,,,and she is now on the top of my favourite Canadian writers of all time list. Cant wait to read something else from her. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I see now, March 19 2007
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (Paperback)
The cover of this book is somewhat deception, in my opinion. I was thinking, "Okay, simple story, etc." but no, it's much more. No wonder it's been compared to a books such as "The Glass Castle" and "Bark of the Dogwood" with their similar themes and hardships on kids growing up. The real difference is that "Lullabies" takes place over a single year. Baby is the main character in this hard-to-put-down novel, and we see events through her eyes. Her father is a heroin addict--need I say more? There are scenes that reminded me of Frey's "A Million Little pieces" though the books couldn't be farther apart thematically. I'm talking about the detox scenes, etc. Some scenes in this book will be hard, really hard to take, as they're graphic and heart-wrenching. The voice of Baby is somewhat unusual, sounding as someone has already said, a bit like Holden Caufield--she's a spirited youth with brains to back it up and this alone is probably the reason she survived. Often, when I think of Montreal, I don't think of it in these terms, the way the author has painted this portrait of sides and places I don't see. I was a real eye-opener and for that I'm grateful. I'm also grateful for an excellent story. Would also recommend the novel "Night."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Painful to read, beautifully crafted, April 20 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally draining and uplifting, April 18 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel
Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel by Heather O'Neill (Paperback - Oct. 5 2006)
CDN$ 17.50 CDN$ 12.64
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews