Genre: YA fiction
Set in Montreal, Baby is a young girl who, at twelve, gets sucked into the world of drugs, prostitution, and street life. Motherless and living with a heroin addict for a father, she struggles to find her place in the world. Not receiving the unconditional love that she craves from her father, Baby meets Alphonse, a dangerous and controlling pimp who encourages Baby to work for him. This is the story of a girl who is thrust into the world of adults long before she was meant to leave the innocence of childhood behind.I picked this one up at the library a week ago. To be honest, I haven't heard much about this book before, just the occasional comment here and there. This book was shocking and disturbing unlike anything I've ever read.
I think the part that intruiged me the most about this book was the fact that Baby (yes, her name is indeed Baby) is merely twelve years old when she starts to experience the harsh and unforgiving world of adults. Even though she's doing drugs, having sex and living on the streets at such a young age, you never forget that she's still a delicate child. O'Neill uses such an honest and childlike narration to describe baby's thoughts and emotions. Here is a perfect example:
The wind was a man with a lisp talking about people who stabbed him in the back. I hurried to get home and escape him. The moon was a child's face squeezed against a screen, yelling curses down at us.
Reading this book, it truly feels as though a child wrote this story - not a woman. I'm sure that was what O'Neill was aiming for, though. The story is so much more efficacious when we see things from the angelic eye of a child.
And really, Baby only wants to be a kid. She aches for her father's love, for a stable home, for food on the table every night, to go to school everyday, to have loyal friends. I think this is why she forms such a dependency on Alphonse - she only wants someone to take care of her and act like a parent should. Sadly, she's too naive to see that he's only interested in the money she brings in.
Final say: I recommend this to everyone. The writing is gorgeous and the story is haunting. This makes for a compelling and enlightening read that you'll no doubt love right up to the last word.