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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  167 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
‘I would like to make things beautiful, but a tawdry and repulsive kind of beauty. A braver sort than people have from birth. Sexy zombies on a bicep. That sort of thing.’

Ces longs to be a tattoo artist and embroider skin with beautiful images. But for now she’s just trying to reach adulthood without falling apart.

Powerful, poetic and disturbing, Needlework is a girl’s med
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 26th 2016 by Little Island
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Astonishing, powerful, heartbreaking, fierce, wise - Needlework is an unflinching, raw story of a young woman trying to make sense of life and her place in it after she and her mother leave their abusive family home.

But god, Ces is smart and so desperately vulnerable, doing her best to hold things together while her mother Laura falls apart, that you long to take care of her and support her the way no adult has done so far...

As we discover her fears and nightmares, we also are offered her hopes
Claire Hennessy
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely gorgeous, poetic look at the internal world of a teenage girl dealing with the aftermath of abuse. Sullivan's book begins where many would end - at the point when the narrator, Frances (Ces), has escaped the abusive situation, and demonstrates that it's not always quite as simple and easy as getting away from an abuser, especially not one who's related to you. Ces is smart, relatable, and brave - and angry, much of the time, and understandably so. I wish there were more YA books li ...more
Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess
A very different writing style to what I'm used to.

Review to come.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: review-books
Needlework was a book I knew nothing about when it arrived through my letterbox. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I picked it up but I'm not quite sure I was ready for what I was about to go through.

This book is so very sad. Ces is such a lonely neglected character. It takes her a while for her to open up and tell her story and it comes in snippets but as you start to piece together both what she has gone through but also the state in which she currently lives it is hard not to feel
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While Needlework deals with painful subjects, it is beautifully written and Sullivan’s style allows the reader enter into Ces’ mind. Her voice is very distinctive, and the writing is so lyrical that it is almost like poetry [...] The cover, designed by Steve McCarthy, is very striking and captures the pain explored by Sullivan in the book. Needlework is a powerful and a painful read, it gets under your skin and it will stay with you. The voice is distinctive and memorable, the subject matter han ...more
Adiba Jaigirdar
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
This was a tough book to read just because the subject matter is so difficult, but Sullivan does a pretty brilliant job handling it. It follows the story of Ces in the aftermath of abuse. Her falling apart and trying to put herself back together. A lot of it is very internal. It's all about Ces and seen through Ces' eyes. How she thinks, feels, what she does. Which is very tough to write, I think, but Sullivan does a good job of it.

I wouldn't suggest reading this when you're in a bad place beca
Lara Liz
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another book about tattoos, but a very different one. Still made me want to get a tattoo. Still made me wish I could draw.

But it wasn't a magical experience. It wasn't meant to be. It was raw and real and brimming with emotion. And that was what the subject of this book needed, quite frankly. It made me think for a long, long time, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

And the writing technique was subtle, different to everything I've read before. I don't want to give away too much, but there's
Paula Dennan
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Needlework was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and I wasn’t disappointed. Dealing with the aftermath of abuse, Needlework begins where many other novels would end.

Ces is smart, vulnerable and understandably angry a lot of the time. She may no longer be in the abusive situation, but it still has a hold over her. What follows is an unflinching, powerful, haunting, often times harrowing and poetic look at a teenage girl trying to get her life back.

My words can’t do Needlework justice, b
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, clever, often-harrowing book. Sullivan deftly and bravely navigates a painful topic but to focus on that would be to do the book a disservice. People are not just their scars, and Ces is a real person - flawed, complex, surviving. Tattoos and tattooing underscore the narrative perfectly, and Sullivan never talks down to or patronises the reader. Like a tattoo itself, Needlework is painful in places, but it's also a piece of real art. I loved it.
Ellen Brickley
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book absolutely blew me away. It pushed every boundary of what can be achieved with YA writing without crossing the line into being inappropriate for teens. Fantastic.
Cooleen Books
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: love-2016
Review to come- but I know I can't do this book justice.

A big thank you to Little Island Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Gabriela Pop
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
TW: sexual assault,domestic violence,self harm
Do you ever read a book and both while reading it and after having finished it,just feel so conflicted?Like,you have no idea just how you feel about the book,but you know you do feel a lot?Cause I'm pretty sure that is me with this book and I have no other better way to describe it.
Mainly,I think it is a very deep,very intense,very powerful story which is meant to leave a lasting impact.As you can gather from the trigger warnings (I'm not quite
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Difficult subject. Perfectly aimed at people the age of Ces. I love that the story didn't shy away from the horrible things that had happened and were happening, but it was never gratuitous or vulgar. Not an easy line to walk.

I also learned a lot about tattoos!!! Coincidentally I watched an episode of QI that said pigskin was used for tattoo practice, but I had literally JUST learned that from this book!

And I love the one time Ces is a little snide about one guy having a tri
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I tried to put this down, I went to sleep, only to wake at 4am and have to open up the pages till I reached the end. Haunting, mesmerising and poetic - this is not just a work of fiction, but a charachter to hold close. Cess is unforgettable, raw and authentic.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I dragged on for most of it tbh.

UPDATE** : I am definitely re-reading this after meeting the lovely author because I think I rushed through it and didn't give it the time it needed to be enjoyed & loved.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking. I read this book over two sunny days. It's a sad story about a teenage girl living a life without hope as she was failed by her abuser father and her mother, who has been so damaged by the abuse she suffered herself, that she has all but given up on life, leaving most of the responsibilities of running the household to her daughter. Through this, Ces, the heroine, although her self esteem is very low, expresses herself through art and teaches herself how to be a tattoo artist. I f ...more
Ellie Patten
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The writing in this book is so powerful and raw. It deals with an incredibly difficult, heartbreaking and sensitive subject, which is at times unpleasant and uncomfortable to read about, making it a very dark read for the majority. The main character is beautifully crafted - she’s vulnerable, but strong and resilient in a quiet, understated way, and is thoughtful and smart as she tries to come to terms with what’s happened to her and what this means for who she is and what her future looks like. ...more
Bee Tay
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yes do please heed the TWs!

This was incredible - gut-wrenching, heart-shattering and so well-written. I have no other words except to say that although this was one of the most difficult books I've ever read due to the subject matter, it is also one of my absolute favourites because of how lyrical yet catastrophic it is and I know Ces's story will stay with me for a long, long time <3
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
There wasn’t much of a plot, but it’s a stunning character study. Very sad but very beautiful. The weaving of tattoos with such a terrible topic is so effortless, so right. I’ve always wanted to write about tattoos but I don’t think it could compare to this. Warning: pedophilia, incest, rape, domestic abuse, and self harm.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is so full of pain and beauty, devastatingly difficult, but not devoid of hope. It's a hard read due to the subject matter, but the narrator's voice is so direct and compelling, it's hard not to love her strength, her creativity, her intelligence. Needlework is not for everyone, but if you can bear the discomfort, it makes a lasting impact.
Emma Vardy
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written like a diary this book is raw account of a teenage dealing with years of abuse. I wasn't sure what to expect, this was a difficult read with the subject area and the authors no holding back, but a much needed book. The book came to an end quite suddenly and left it open, which I didn't like. Painful yet powerful read that I won't forget.
Dani (Pen to Paper)
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I can see why some people may like this book, but unfortunately it was not for me. It felt disjointed and 70 pages in I was still wondering where the story was. I’m really disappointed as I wanted to love this and know so many others have really loved it.
May 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
A sad, pretty read, but it meanders on with no plot direction which makes it tedious to finish.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love Ces - she's so honest and relatable. The author writes in an interesting style; I felt like I was right in Ces' head from the beginning to the end of the book.
Aali Hashim
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Loved the writing style but the ending was unsatisfying.
Christina Reid
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a powerful and important book - not an easy read but one that will stay with you! Full review to come!
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To see my full review over on my blog, Click Here!



A massive thank you to the publishers, Little Island Books, for sending me an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a full and honest review. This book was also featured on my Most Anticipated Releases of 2016 list .

Prior to reading this novel I had read Deirdre's Prim Improper, which is the first novel in a series about a young girl dealing with new friends, family life after the death of her mother and living with her father. Pr
Feb 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
DNF - pg26

Three times I tried to read this book. And finally after that third attempt I just decided to leave this one behind. There was just something about this book that wasn't for me. I found the writing style to be not my taste and then from the small section that I did read, I was bored and there was just nothing there to get me past the boredom so that I could push through and see what does happen as the book continues. So unfortunately, even though it was a book that I was highly interes
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Harrowingly beautiful. Ces is an amazingly brave young woman who has been through a LOT, just trying to find her way. This was hard to read and dark, but there’s a lightness in it too.
Niamh Griffin
Needlework is a brave, clever and emotional novel.

Written in the first person the reader is brought on a journey of the protagonists internal thoughts.

The author sensitively handles the topic of abuse, detailing enough to shock but not overwhelm the reader. Boy is the main character, Frances (Ces) brave. Determined not to be a victim she struggles with the aftermath of trying to avoid her past defining not only her, but her future.

Ces is failed by all the adults in her immediate world, her fa
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Deirdre Sullivan is from Galway. She enjoys acting, reading, writing, crafting and day-dreaming about the viking who will one day recue her from her life of drudgery. Also cake. She really, really does enjoy cake.
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