A new deluxe edition of the international bestseller by Heather O’Neill, the Giller-shortlisted author of Daydreams of Angels and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, featuring an original foreword from the author, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the coming-of-age story that People describes as “a vivid portrait of life on skid row.”
Baby, all of thirteen years old, is lost in the gangly, coltish moment between childhood and the strange pulls and temptations of the adult world. Her mother is dead; her father Jules is always on the lookout for his next score. Baby knows that “chocolate milk” is Jules’ slang for heroin and sees a lot more of that in her house than the real article. But she takes vivid delight in the scrappy bits of happiness and beauty that find their way to her, and moves through the threat of the streets as if she’s been choreographed in a dance.
Soon, though, a hazard emerges that is bigger than even her hard-won survival skills can handle. Alphonse, the local pimp, has his eye on her for his new girl; he wants her body and soul—and what the johns don’t take he covets for himself. At the same time, a tender and naively passionate friendship unfolds with a boy from her class at school, who has no notion of the dark claims on her—which even her father, lost on the nod, cannot totally ignore. Jules consigns her to a stint in juvie hall, and for the moment this perceived betrayal preserves Baby from terrible harm—but after that, her salvation has to be her own invention.
Channeling the artlessly affecting voice of her thirteen-year-old heroine with extraordinary accuracy and power, Heather O’Neill’s heartbreaking and wholly original debut novel blew readers away when it was first published ten years ago. Now in a new deluxe package it is sure to capture its next decade of readers as Baby picks her pathway along the edge of the abyss to arrive at a place of redemption, and of love.
About the author
Heather O’Neill is a Canadian novelist, poet, short-story writer, screenwriter and essayist. Lullabies For Little Criminals, her debut novel, was published in 2006 to international critical acclaim and won Canada Reads. It was shortlisted for both the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has since published the novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and the short story collection Daydreams Of Angels, both of which were shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in consecutive years. The collection was also shortlisted for the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. Born and raised in Montreal, O’Neill lives there today with her daughter.
“Baby’s precocious introspection feels pitch perfect.... Tear-jerkingly effective.”
“A disturbing, heartbreaking novel… redeemed by a powerful voice, vivid characters and gritty realism. This is a stunning book from a first-time author.”
“A nuanced, endearing coming-of-age novel you won’t want to miss.”
<i>Quill & Quire</i> (Canada)
“O’Neill somehow infuses her troubling story with a kind of heartbreaking innocence…. She is a wonderful stylist and the voice she has created for Baby is original and altogether captivating.”
“Dreamy prose.... Baby’s unique voice and the glimmer of hope provided by her intelligence and imaginative spirit live on in the mind long after you have closed the book.”
<i>Waterstones Books Quarterly</i> (London)
“O’Neill is a tragicomedienne par excellence…. You will not want to miss this tender depiction of some very mean streets.”
<i>Montreal Review of Books</i>
“A winsome debut novel.”
“Vivid and poignant.... A deeply moving and troubling novel.”
“A vivid portrait of life on skid row.”
“A beautiful book, all the more remarkable because its harrowing tale is (virtuosically) told without a trace of self-pity or bathos. There are phrases in here that will make you laugh out loud, and others that will stop your heart. A definite triumph.”
David Rakoff, author of <i>Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish</i>
“A poignant tale…. O’Neill brings the setting to life.”
<i>OK!</i>, five stars
Other titles by Heather O'Neill
When We Lost Our Heads
Life in the Court of Matane
Second edition. With a foreword by Heather O'Neill
Lonely Hearts Hotel
Writers on Writing in Canada
Wisdom in Nonsense
Invaluable Lessons from My Father
The Lonely Hearts Hotel