Lullabies for Little Criminals
Published in 2006 by HarperCollins
The narrator of Heather O'Neill's evocative novel is a 12-year-old named Baby, who is hovering between childhood and the temptations of the adult world. Her father, Jules, takes better care of his heroin habit than he does of her, and Baby learns not to depend on him. Though they live in poverty, she collects and covets the small crumbs of happiness she finds as she navigates the streets of Montreal's red-light district.
On the outside, Baby is whipsmart, wickedly funny and has a genius for survival; on the inside, she's as needy and as fragile as any girl entering puberty. She experiences highs and lows during stints in foster care and in a juvenile detention centre, all the while craving an injection of love and stability in her life.
Baby grows to depend on the charismatic predator Alphonse, a local pimp who is riveted by her blossoming beauty. At the same time, she nurtures a tender and naively passionate friendship with Xavier, a classmate who is clueless about his girlfriend's double life.
Lullabies for Little Criminals is a powerful debut novel, the coming-of-age story of a young woman who learns to adapt to heartbreaking circumstances, and about the young man who became her parent too early.
Defended by John K. Samson
To learn more, check out the Readers Guide (1332kb)