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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
3.0 out of 5 stars found it beautiful but also disturbing but this is what's going on ...
what life is for some children, found it beautiful but also disturbing but this is what's going on for a lot of children today.
Published 7 days ago by Wilfried goddyn


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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.
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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.
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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
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5.0 out of 5 stars Painful to read, beautifully crafted, April 20 2014
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally draining and uplifting, April 18 2014
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars A real view of the world of poverty and addiction from a child eyes, Dec 14 2013
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., July 5 2012
By 
Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good visuals, April 26 2012
This review is from: Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel (Paperback)
I read this book many years ago and recall liking it because it had such "taboo" topics. I think I fell in love with the idea that it was a book from a world not near my own, and gave me perspective (though not always true) of what living in a poverty-stricken situation. I do agree with other reviewers that the ending fell short, almost as if there was more to happen, then everything was all butterflies and rainbows.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Great Prce, Feb. 4 2012
Very interesting book. Heartwarming and easy to follow with well written characters. Pulls you in and won't let you go until the last page. A real page turner that brings you back and forth seamlessly between the world of a little girls imagination and the cruel world of reality.
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3.0 out of 5 stars found it beautiful but also disturbing but this is what's going on ..., Aug. 20 2014
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what life is for some children, found it beautiful but also disturbing but this is what's going on for a lot of children today.
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Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel
Lullabies For Little Criminals: A Novel by Heather O'Neill (Paperback - Oct. 5 2006)
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