Lullabies for Little Criminals
Baby is twelve years old. Her mother died not long after she was born and she lives in a string of seedy flats in Montreal's red light district with her father Jules, who takes better care of his heroin addiction than he does of his daughter. Jules is an intermittent presence and a constant source of chaos in Baby's life - the turmoil he brings with him and the wreckage he leaves in his wake. Baby finds herself constantly re-adjusting to new situations, new foster homes, new places, new people, all the while longing for stability and a 'normal' life.But Baby has a gift - the ability to find the good in people, a genius for spinning stories and for cherishing the small crumbs of happiness that fall into her lap. She is bright, smart, funny and observant about life on the dirty streets of a city and wise enough to realise salvation rests in her own hands.
Shortlisted for Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2008.
O'Neill's vivid prose owes a debt to Donna Tartt's The Little Friend... Baby's precocious introspection feels pitch perfect... Tear-jerkingly effective - Publishers' WeeklyA remarkable novel that could turn out to be huge... the very rich descriptions of a tumultuous young life and emotional reaction to each new situation add up to a cracking good read - Publishing New...dreamy prose...Baby's unique voice and the glimmer of hope provided by her intelligence and imaginative spirit live on in the mind long after you have closed the book - Waterstones Books QuarterlyFrom feisty little Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird to Sissy Spacek's blank-eyed Holly in the film Badlands, Heather O'Neill draws on the annals of knowing child narrators to shape Baby's shabby, scrappy scrabble from broken home to detention centre to pimp's lap and back again. Scabrous humour and brutal insight fairly jolt each episode into life - The Observer
Heather O'Neill is a contributor to this American Life and her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Her childhood was divided between Viriginia and her mother, who wanted nothing to do with her children, and Montreal and her alcoholic father. She now lives in Montreal. Lullabies for Little Criminals is her first novel.