Lullabies for Little Criminals is a hard book for me to review. I'd go as far to say it is one of the very few books in my life that has me questioning exactly where I stand as a reader and where the character stood in the novel itself.
I brought it at the end of last year and on New Years Eve it got damaged beyond repair. Somewhere in my heart I couldn't bare to throw it away and despite my reading experience I am glad that I held onto it and took the journey in reading it.
Heather O'Neill has written a whimsy, tainted tale that is both saddening in charming. In many places Baby [the main character] is down to earth and positive about most of the situations and issues that take place in dysfunctional and destructive life. Her outlook on the grim world she is raised in, often had me confused with how to feel myself.
While each character was wonderfully crafted, I connected less and less with each character as the novel progressed and felt the characters loose themselves with each page beyond the halfway mark. In the end, I was no closer to understanding the characters any more than I was in the beginning, but I did achieve satisfaction, as the ending wrapped up all unanswered questions well.
Admittedly, I delighted in Heathers use of languages and the way she mastered description, although in places, the similes and metaphors were so thick I began to drown in description and lost sight of the characters and what was happening in each scene.
I also didn't feel greatly attracted to the story itself after the halfway mark. I understood that the character was beginning to grow and see the reality of her life and the lives that surrounded her, but I didn't feel sorry for her and was often confused about the message the reader was trying to portray and what emotions she was signalling.
I adored Xavier, as he was the only character I could really connect with on an emotional level. In the beginning, I delighted in the relationship between father and daughter and maybe the truth and sadness behind the reality of their relationship was what made this book a disappointing read.
Reading the segment at the back confirmed to me that the reader had taken a lot of her own experiences to write this book and I found nothing different to part the character and the author. Their voices were the same and it annoyed me that the writer hadn't really branched into fiction when writing the novel.
Lullabies for Little Criminals is a must read book, despite my opinion. I would recommend it to anyone who likes stories of children and hardship and while my opinion on the book isn't entirely positive, there were times when reading that I fell in love with each page and continued to devour it until it was complete.