Lullabies for Little Criminals | Heather O’Neill

One sentence:

A kid grows up with a heroin-addicted father and it goes exactly the way you’d expect.

Three thoughts:

  • I really want to know what ended up happening to Baby! Like, okay she got out of her bad situation, but you don’t just suddenly not become addicted to heroin.
  • I realized multiple times while reading this book that I have no idea when it takes place. It felt very 70s to me, but I could be very wrong about that. I’m not sure that it ever actually said when it happened.
  • I was often shocked by the reminders that Baby is, ultimately, a child. Even when she’s in very adult situations, her inner thoughts reveal that she’s still a child and demonstrated amazing writing.


  • Characters: 5/5. That little Felix was the star of this show. Some of the best lines came from that kid. What’d he say about the magic mushrooms? “I’ve always wanted to try those. They sound cute!” or something like that. He’s just great. Baby is a very complex character with way too many facets to discuss here, but I love her and I hope someone finally takes care of her. Jules is awful but also amazing. Oh and I’m glad Alphonse is dead. That asshole.
  • Plot: 5/5. I mean. Sadly, it’s the story of way too many kids in poverty-stricken areas these days. Even throughout the book there was very little hope that things would ever get better for Baby. So much so, in fact, that the appearance of Janice at the end felt almost like a deus ex machina.
  • Setting: 3/5. Maybe I’m just not very into setting, because the past few books that I’ve reviewed have gotten pretty neutral reviews regarding the setting. As I mentioned before, I have no idea when this story took place. The setting does convey the grittiness and grimness of Baby’s life; the descriptions of the shitty hotels that she and Jules live in off and on are really striking and eye-opening.
  • Style/Voice: 4/5. For the first half of the book, I was bored and I almost put it down. There was something about it that just didn’t get my interest. The story almost seemed to wander all over the place without any real goal in mind. Once I hit the right part, though, it picked up and it just worked. I genuinely felt like a 12/13 year old was narrating it, and some of the more disturbing scenes just shocked you right back into the reality of what was actually happening – that a child was being treated and used this way. Even when she was turned into a prostitute, the pragmatic, childlike way that she reacted to it all was completely heartbreaking.
  • Theme: 5/5. The loss of childhood innocence couldn’t have been better done.

Overall Rating: 4.4

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