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A gritty, heart-wrenching novel about bruised innocence on the city's feral streets—the remarkable debut of a stunning literary talent

Heather O'Neill dazzles with a first novel of extraordinary prescience and power, a subtly understated yet searingly effective story of a young life on the streets—and the strength, wits, and luck necessary for survival.

At thirteen, Baby vacillates between childhood comforts and adult temptation: still young enough to drag her dolls around in a vinyl suitcase yet old enough to know more than she should about urban cruelties. Motherless, she lives with her father, Jules, who takes better care of his heroin habit than he does of his daughter. Baby's gift is a genius for spinning stories and for cherishing the small crumbs of happiness that fall into her lap. But her blossoming beauty has captured the attention of a charismatic and dangerous local pimp who runs an army of sad, slavishly devoted girls—a volatile situation even the normally oblivious Jules cannot ignore. And when an escape disguised as betrayal threatens to crush Baby's spirit, she will ultimately realize that the power of salvation rests in her hands alone.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061856907
List price: $5.99
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I must have read too many good reviews on this book because I was a little dissapointed. It was difficult to read about Baby's ordeals because I have daughters of my own. I sympathized with her. I guess with a somewhat depressing book I expected something more tragic to happen in the end. Heather O'Neill's writing did keep me reading. Her words transformed me into a dirty street kid.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Written in the voice of a child, this book is about the highs and lows of being cared for by her young heroin addict father. The book sets a new standard in writing about childhood trauma. It perfectly captures the confused, non-judgemental thought process of a young girl as she grows up in a community of drug-pushers, bums, pimps and other inadequates. Inexorably, Baby mutates from an innocent, vulnerable child into a whore and heroin user as she develops her own methods to answer her need to feel nurtured. The strength of the narrative is that from the beginning to end, it is told with a child's perspective. I wanted to crawl into the book and comfort her myself. Heather O'Neil is an outstanding talent. Some of the writing was so poignant, I found myself writing out passages to remember. Even the title makes me want to weep!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This novel rests on contradictions: the sleeziness of adults and innocence of children; the creepiness of a dank apartment and magic of snow blanketing city streets; spiralling despair and hopeful redemption. As we follow Baby through the streets, we feel her fear, excitement and courage, but mostly that deep and precious love between her and her father. A very moving and disturbing account of a young girl and her struggle between child and adulthood.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

I must have read too many good reviews on this book because I was a little dissapointed. It was difficult to read about Baby's ordeals because I have daughters of my own. I sympathized with her. I guess with a somewhat depressing book I expected something more tragic to happen in the end. Heather O'Neill's writing did keep me reading. Her words transformed me into a dirty street kid.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Written in the voice of a child, this book is about the highs and lows of being cared for by her young heroin addict father. The book sets a new standard in writing about childhood trauma. It perfectly captures the confused, non-judgemental thought process of a young girl as she grows up in a community of drug-pushers, bums, pimps and other inadequates. Inexorably, Baby mutates from an innocent, vulnerable child into a whore and heroin user as she develops her own methods to answer her need to feel nurtured. The strength of the narrative is that from the beginning to end, it is told with a child's perspective. I wanted to crawl into the book and comfort her myself. Heather O'Neil is an outstanding talent. Some of the writing was so poignant, I found myself writing out passages to remember. Even the title makes me want to weep!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This novel rests on contradictions: the sleeziness of adults and innocence of children; the creepiness of a dank apartment and magic of snow blanketing city streets; spiralling despair and hopeful redemption. As we follow Baby through the streets, we feel her fear, excitement and courage, but mostly that deep and precious love between her and her father. A very moving and disturbing account of a young girl and her struggle between child and adulthood.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I really wanted to like this book, but couldn't. I just found it too sad, despite the funny and light style it was written in.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book was really really good. It was the kind of book that I wanted to read as much as possible. Baby is a 12/13 year old who has a father who is a heroin addict and is only 15 years her senior. She spends a lot of time in the streets and eventually gets involved with the wrong kind of people. This book was powerful especially since it centered around an innocent child who is exposed to the evils of the world. This book reminded me of the Glass Castle, but a lot more harsh. A great read!
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This is an interesting portrayal of life on the streets of Montreal. The narrator is 12-year-old Baby, whose mother is deceased and whose father is a drug addict. Baby's voice rings with realism and the author maintains Baby's perspective in a strong and convincing manner throughout the novel. This is due, I'm sure, to her own life which, while not as dramatic as Baby's, contains several similar experiences.
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