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Synopsis: [Read by Miriam McDonald]
A new deluxe edition of the international bestseller by Heather O'Neill, the Giller-shortlisted author of Daydreams of Angels and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, featuring an original foreword from the author, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the coming-of-age story that People describes as ''a vivid portrait of life on skid row.''
Baby, all of thirteen years old, is lost in the gangly, coltish moment between childhood and the strange pulls and temptations of the adult world. Her mother is dead; her father, Jules, is scarcely more than a child himself and is always on the lookout for his next score. Baby knows that ''chocolate milk'' is Jules' slang for heroin and sees a lot more of that in her house than the real article. But she takes vivid delight in the scrappy bits of happiness and beauty that find their way to her and moves through the threat of the streets as if she's been choreographed in a dance.
Soon, though, a hazard emerges that is bigger than even her hard-won survival skills can handle. Alphonse, the local pimp, has his eye on her for his new girl; he wants her body and soul -- and what the johns don't take he covets for himself. At the same time, a tender and naively passionate friendship unfolds with a boy from her class at school, who has no notion of the dark claims on her -- which even her father, lost on the nod, cannot totally ignore. Jules consigns her to a stint in juvie hall, and for the moment this perceived betrayal preserves Baby from terrible harm -- but after that, her salvation has to be her own invention.
Channeling the artlessly affecting voice of her thirteen-year-old heroine with extraordinary accuracy and power, Heather O'Neill's heartbreaking and wholly original debut novel blew readers away when it was first published ten years ago. Now in a new deluxe package it is sure to capture its next decade of readers as Baby picks her pathway along the edge of the abyss to arrive at a place of redemption -- and of love.
Review: A down-and-dirty debut novel, a harrowing recital of a young life, a funny, innocent, streetwise telling of life on the street--all of the above describe Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals. In an autobiographical essay included in the book, O'Neill, whose own childhood parallels rather closely the life of Baby, her book's heroine, says, "In Lullabies, I wanted to capture what I remembered of the drunken babbling of unfortunate twelve-year-olds: their illusions; their ludicrously bad choices, their lack of morality and utter disbelief in cause and effect." She accomplishes all of the above and more.
Baby is born to two 15-year-olds, and her mother dies a year later. Her father, Jules, is not a bad man, but he is a perpetual kid, without money, education, purpose, moral compass, or any idea of what being a parent is about or how ordinary people live. When the novel begins, Baby is almost 12, and her 12th year turns out to be a very big one indeed. She smokes pot, shoots heroin, loses her virginity, and lives in foster homes, a state detention home, and one seedy, squalid apartment after another. She comes under the spell of Alphonse, a neighborhood pimp, and is so hungry for male affection that she mistakes what he offers for love and care.
Baby and her equally neglected and abused friends long for adulthood, whatever that means. They look up to sophisticated druggies and efficient thieves. Baby says, "I don't know why I was upset about not being an adult. It was right around the corner. Becoming a child again is what is impossible. That's what you have a legitimate reason to be upset over." Baby is matter-of-fact about her predicament. She knows that other kids have lives very different from hers but says, "It never occurs to you when you are very young to need something other than what your parents have to offer to you." This poignant story is beautifully written, sprinkled throughout with humor, pathos, unbelievable privation, and, in the end, the hope of redemption. At least we know that Heather O'Neill grew up to be a writer of no mean accomplishment. --Valerie Ryan
Title: Lullabies for Little Criminals (Compact Disc...
Binding: Compact Disc
Book Condition: New
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