Lullabies for Little Criminals – Heather O’Neill

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“If you want to get a child to love you, then you should just go and hide in the closet for three or four hours.  They get down on their knees and pray for you to return.  That child will turn you into God.  Lonely children probably wrote the Bible.”

As with most contests I win, I won this book without knowing I’d entered a contest.  I retweeted something by Grant MacEwan thinking it was just talking about some literary event in our city.  Turns out it was a retweet to enter into a contest for a great read.  So they shipped this book off to me after informing me on Twitter that I’d won.

Many people I know did not like this book.  The subject matter was obviously difficult – child prostitution, heroin abuse, foster care.  But I thought O’Neill did a marvellous job depicting this complete fall from innocence – the eleven year old girl desperately clinging on to her childhood, to the pre-teen desperate to escape it, to the teen missing that childhood innocence she had lost.  It’s a striking first novel and wasn’t what I expected in the slightest.  It’s a beautifully tragic downward spiral and it had me shuddering at several points in the book, while simultaneously making me more and more cognizant of how precious time is to us.  We will never be here again, in this spot, in this moment, at this age, and while there are parts of childhood I certainly don’t miss, the innocent optimist is a facet of Arielle that cannot come back.

This is totally unrelated but is why I’ve been so distracted from reading this past week.  My family bought a puppy today.  She’s ready to come home with us on Saturday.  I presently don’t live with my parents but I’m moving back in with them in February, so I will soon be living full time with a puppy.  So all I can think about is how happy puppies make me, which probably made the total devastating tragedy of this novel hit me a little less hard.

Books read: 14

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