Baby is twelve. Her mother died soon after she was born so she lives with her father - and his heroin addiction. She's grown up in Montreal' red-light district, never staying anywhere long enough to call it home, and now Baby is losing the only constant in her life; her father. He's been sent to hospital and she's been forced into foster care. She ...
Baby is twelve. Her mother died soon after she was born so she lives with her father - and his heroin addiction. She's grown up in Montreal' red-light district, never staying anywhere long enough to call it home, and now Baby is losing the only constant in her life; her father. He's been sent to hospital and she's been forced into foster care. She longs for his return; other people's families are no substitute for her own. Starved of affection, Baby is attracted to all the wrong people. And when her father betrays her and she is sent to a juvenile detention centre, she is more at risk than ever. Baby' survival rests on her gift for spinning stories and for cherishing the small crumbs of happiness which fall into her lap. Poised on the threshold between childhood and adult life, she is bright, funny, observant and ultimately wise enough to realize that salvation rests in her hands alone.Heather O'Neill' talent is outstanding, she is able to craft the most beautiful images and "Quercus" anticipates a remarkable future for her.
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While reading this book I found myself hoping and even praying for the young girl being raised by a single parent drug-addicted father. Every once in a while I would tell myself, this could never be true. And then I read the biography of the author. This author knows whereof she speaks. I found this book impossible to set down, so if you have unbridled reading habits, make sure you have the time to finish without disrupting your life. This is a Canadian book and persons in Montreal will probably recognize street names. This is a book with wonderfully drawn pictures of dysfunctional families that still succeed in loving both their own children and those of their neighbours. This is a book to remind us that people who carry heavy burdens of guilt and sorrow, need our understanding and help, not our censure and trite advice. It is not always possible to pull up one's own socks.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-08-07 In her debut novel, This American Life contributor O'Neill offers a narrator, Baby, coming of age in Montreal just before her 12th birthday. Her mother is long dead. Her father, Jules, is a junkie who shuttles her from crumbling hotels to rotting apartments, his short-term work or moneymaking schemes always undermined by his rage and paranoia. Baby tries to screen out the bad parts by hanging out at the community center and in other kids' apartments, by focusing on school when she can and by taking mushrooms and the like. (She finds sex mostly painful.) Stints in foster care, family services and juvenile detention ("nostalgia could kill you there") usually end in Jules's return and his increasingly erratic behavior. Baby's intelligence and self-awareness can't protect her from parental and kid-on-kid violence, or from the seductive power of being desired by Alphonse, a charismatic predator, on the one hand, and by Xavier, an idealistic classmate, on the other. When her lives collide, Baby faces choices she is not equipped to make. O'Neill's vivid prose owes a debt to Donna Tartt's The Little Friend; the plot has a staccato feel that's appropriate but that doesn't coalesce. Baby's precocious introspection, however, feels pitch perfect, and the book's final pages are tear-jerkingly effective. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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