Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lullabies for Little Criminals


The Auckland Writer's and Readers Festival introduced me to a wealth of writers including Canadian writer Heather O'Neill. I had no intention of buying Lullabies for Little Criminals, but after listening to Heather speak and hearing her read from the book I was one of a small stampede heading for the book stall and lining up in the groupie autograph queue. (Later, I was standing in the groupie autograph queue for Booker Prize winner Anne Enright, and Heather was five behind)

Lullabies for Little Criminals tells the story of Baby, a twelve-year old girl growing up in the red-light district of Montreal. She is supposed to be looked after by her father, but Jules is only fifteen years older than his daughter, an addict and failing her in every way.

Now before you think, oh god, another dark, drug-crazed, maudlin tale of a life descending into hell - don't.

Baby is an extraordinary voice, and you can't help but fall for her from the outset. She tells the story with a child's innocence, though she is streetwise, and in the end far from what we'd consider innocent. Despite having a desperate existence and every adult she encounters failing her, she finds happiness and delight in the small things.

This book is full of magical imagery, and although the subject is deeply disturbing and challenging, I found it uplifting and a statement about the resilience of the human spirit.

I am so glad I succumbed and brought this book. It's a treasure.

1 comment:

Joanne Ganley said...

Vanda, that's also one of my favourite books. I got my book signed too. I'm working in the same genre and though they are challenging to read, they're thought provoking and ultimately uplifting and hopful.