“Lullabies For Little Criminals” by Heather O’Neill provides many life lessons and different perspectives for its reader. The story surrounds two years in the life of a Canadian twelve year old girl named Baby and how her life got turned upside down. From the influences of her single, drug addicted father to the contributions of her becoming a sex worker. This heavy hearted and emotional novel is both heart breaking and suspenseful.
Shortly after reading this novel, I was at work and was listening to the radio. The song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by Eurythmics. The lines “Some of them want to use you, some of them want to be used by you. Some of them was to abuse you, some of them want to be abused” reminds me of Baby and her relationship with Alphonse. How Baby seemed to be used and abused by Alphonse. However, in reality, Baby was also using Alphonse for security and protection. Although, it was all she was used to because prior to her Alphonse, she was with her father who did similar things to her.
You see, at the beginning of the novel Baby is portrayed to the reader as a young innocent girl with a drug addicted father and a rag doll named Roxanne. All she had going for her was her education and overall maturity. I discovered after researching the book that the storyline only covers two years of her life! It was astonishing to me to find out how much changed for Baby in two years. She went from an innocent child living with her father to a frightened prostitute owned by a local pimp.
In order for Baby’s life to change so drastically and quickly, there had to been some tragic events in her life, right? Well, yes. Baby’s life was not exactly perfect she moved around a lot, which made her disconnected with children her own age. Her only real company was her father who is only fifteen years older than her. The absence of a mother figure also contributed to her being unaware of how to truly “act like a lady”. I know that might seem offensive because it is 2017 and almost anything you say about woman is offensive but it is true. Baby never got the “birds and the bees talk” and she never go to know what woman truly are like. This resulted in her being very sexually confused not only about herself as a woman, but sex itself.
Overall, this novel was an amazing piece of writing. It really showed me how someone’s past can influence their future. Heather O’Neill was an unknown name to me before, but now she is legendary.