My Top 10 Favourite Quotes from The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

Since reading Lullabies For Little Criminals in 2007, I have been a huge fan of Heather O’Neill. But if you look at my list of favourite novels (including both of her novels, plus The Enchanted and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, to name a few) this is no surprise. I love metaphors. I love similes. The higher a book is on my list of favourites, the more likely it is that there are pages dog-eared and quotes underlined.

While reading The Girl Who Was Saturday Night on Toronto transit, I found myself attempting to type my favourite lines into my phone in one hand, holding the book in the other while keeping my arm wrapped tightly enough around a pole to ensure I didn’t fall down. I am not a graceful person, and this was—both fortunately and unfortunately—a regular occurrence, because the strength of O’Neill’s novels are not just her outrageously charming, down-and-out-yet-impeccably-hopeful protagonists (though you will love Baby and Nouschka), but also in her writing. And here are some people who agree:

In a review of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, The National Post said:

O’Neill’s unique strength as a prose stylist has always been in the strength of her individual sentences, and in The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, the way she wields an image feels less like style than superpower.

The Toronto Star agrees:

As with Lullabies, the real pleasure of O’Neill’s new novel is the language. She writes like a sort of demented angel with an uncanny knack for metaphor. Pigeons atop a restaurant sign are “crammed together like a group of teenagers making trouble on a bench.” The prose is riskier in Girl, with more magic and surrealism.

To further my point, I’ve decided to share a collection of my favourite lines from The Girl Who Was Saturday Night rather than a review, since raving about Heather’s writing is not nearly as effective as reading it.


They were pregnant before they even had a chance to unpack their bags. They didn’t want this. They didn’t want to populate this horrible land that was snow and rocks and skinny wolves. They spoke to their children through gritted teeth. That’s where the Québec accent came from. The nation crawled out from between their legs. —65


Nicholas and Nouschka were here with the rats and the flowers. —111


It was terrifying to have the responsibility of living in a world that was so filled with so much wonder. —114


Look at you! This whole wonderful universe of things in one skinny girl. —114


You are engaged in the greatest battle of them all: the battle to be yourself. —115


We had a hundred ways to sign our contracts of love. 115


It was all too late after that kiss. I already knew what his breath smelled like. I already knew what he looked like in his pyjamas. I already knew what he sounded like when he spoke in his sleep. I was already his girlfriend by the end of the kiss. —146


The universe was something that we drew with crayons and there was no such thing as tragedy. 189


Readers are a rare and wonderful breed. I’ve never heard of anyone not liking a reader. —218


If you don’t have something to try and get better at when you are twenty years old, you are lost. 278


“Everyone here now was a direct descendant of a daydreamer.” —164


“One of the reasons that I wanted to study literature was because it exposed everything. Writers looked for secrets that had never been mined. Every writer has to invent their own magical language, in order to describe the indescribable. They might seem to be writing in French, English, or Spanish, but really they were writing in the language of butterflies, crows and hanged men.” 336


Okay, you got me. That’s more than 10, but I had trouble narrowing them down.

Have you read The Girl Who Was Saturday Night? If so, feel free to share your favourite quotes with us below, or on Twitter @SavvyReader.


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Digital Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins Canada. Film, fiction and fashion blog enthusiast. Follow me on twitter @SavvyReader & @ktvncnt.

4 thoughts on “My Top 10 Favourite Quotes from The Girl Who Was Saturday Night

  1. Already have The Girl Who Was Saturday Night on my TBR list, now I’m excited to get to it after reading your review.
    I, too, read on Toronto transit.

  2. As you know, I adored this book! I definitely think everyone should read it. The quotes you pulled are gorgeous. I highlighted the one about studying literature too! I haven’t read The Enchanted yet but I think I’ll have to ASAP!

  3. I really wish people would not turn the verb “quote” into a noun. We should use “quotations,” though it does take longer to type.

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