Lullabies for Little Criminals

Lullabies for Little Criminals - Heather O'Neill

Considerably darker than the short stories that introduced me to O'Neill (Daydreams of Angels), this novel is nonetheless suffused with enough hope and humour to keep the reader going through the rather wretched circumstances of the life of the young female narrator ("Baby"). It's easy to forget just how young she is (12 or 13), partly because the language is, of necessity, just a bit too sophisticated for a teenage junkie and hooker - but that's easily forgiven. But on the other hand, her youth makes her matter-of-fact acceptance of her life comprehensible and certainly more tolerable for the reader. In this, the novel resembles another social horror story told from a juvenile viewpoint, "Room", which I also read lately.

One of my favourite aspects of O'Neill's prose, the irrepressible and endlessly inventive pouring-forth of similes, is here in abundance. I hope she never loses that.