English / Ireland
Dublin: Little Island, 2016. – 210 p.
Sexual abuse | Violence | Neglect | Depression | Tattoo
Reading age: 16+
White Ravens issue: 2016
Deirdre Sullivan is the acclaimed writer of a witty trilogy about adolescent Primrose Leary and her everyday craziness. “Needlework” however is a much darker book. This complex novel is written from the point of view of teenage girl Ces, who was sexually and physically abused by her father, as was her mother Laura. When Ces and Laura eventually leave their tormentor, and her mother slowly seems to fall apart, the girl has to work part-time and take over all of the household chores in addition to her school routine. Her dream of becoming a skilled tattoo-artist is the only thing that keeps her going. The captivating first-person narrative that skips back and forth between childhood memories and the stark present is interspersed with short factual but also lyrical passages about tattooing that bind the story together. Ces is a strong protagonist who refuses to be defined by the rape and struggles hard to take control of her life again.