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on April 3, 2007
"Lullabies" is one of those novels which is basically little more than adequate, but gets a lot of buzz and therefore picks up some momentum (and sales and praise).

The summary is "a 12 year old girl from a broken home has various street adventures in Montreal".

I honestly don't think you can give much more to it than this. None of the "adventures" really lead up to anything. They're all sad little vignettes with a long stream of characters who appear and disappear and the only saving grace is that Baby herself is given a half-decent narrative voice.

So, Baby and her father Jules are fairly interesting characters. The eventual "love-interest", Xavier, is likeable, but basically everyone else just disappears.

Despite how dangerous a life Baby seems to be living, and the lowly nature of the characters she knows, there is almost no tension in the book because you never really believe that anything will happen to Baby.

As well (and maybe this is a necessary trade-off to make Baby's narrative voice fun and lively), there is little drama in the situations because the drug abuse, the lost friends, the group homes, the abusive pimp, the negligent father, are all depicted lightly. There is never that feeling that Cormac McCarthy can give his young characters in "All The Pretty Horses" and "The Crossing" that this event, or this decision, will either save me or destroy me. And this character is definitely being destroyed, but the gravity of this doesn't really come across.

As I say however, this is probably a necessary trade-off to make the narrative voice so lively.

So, basically, this book won't kill you and won't be a total waste of money, but you'd be far better off spending your money on "A Complicated Kindness" by Miriam Toews (which is another recent Canadian novel told by a young female narrator).
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