Title: Needle
Author: Patrice Lawrence
Cover illustrator: Andy Gellenberg
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Genre: Teen/Young Adult fiction, Contemporary
Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries: Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description:  What happens if you’re a girl who doesn’t say sorry?
Charlene Yewless loves knitting.  The only thing she loves more than knitting is her little sister, Kandi, whom she hasn’t seen since their mum died.
When the special blanket she’s knitting for Kandi is destroyed by her foster mum’s son, Charlene loses it.  She stabs him in the hand with her knitting needle and finds herself sitting in a police cell.
Can she find a way to say sorry when her freedom and her future are at stake?

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is a deep story about the way a black teenager who is in the care system is treated.  Charlene loves to knit, it’s what she does to cope when things upset her.  Her foster mum knows that knitting helps her, but when her foster mum’s son does something terrible, she gets angry and stabs him with a knitting needle.

This is a brilliant story showing how difficult life can be for someone in care.  Charlene has had to live in care ever since her mum died and her sister Kandi has been separated from her.  While Kandi lives with her dad, Charlene, who has a different father, has to stay with foster carers and her latest foster mum is luckily very nice and kind to her.  After a bad day Charlene comes home and starts knitting a big piece she wants to give to her sister.  I love how Charlene really gets into her knitting and how it helps her keep calm after she gets stressed and upset.

Charlene is so keen on knitting that she even wants to take her knitting to school one day, but after being convinced to leave it at home, she goes back to the house and finds her foster mum’s son looking at her work.  His attitude is toxic towards her and Charlene struggles to keep her cool.  You really feel for Charlene in this novel.  There are so many kids and teens in care who are judged by others instantly, just for being in that situation, without any understanding.  This is what happens to Charlene with her foster mum’s son and it’s his attitude that causes Charlene to lash out.

The story shows the real impact that Charlene’s behaviour has on her situation.  Her anger causes her to do something she shouldn’t but unlike stories where we just see someone getting angry and later in trouble for it, this tale is told from Charlene’s perspective, with her narrating it, so you get an insight into how she feels and what she’s going through and you can really feel and understand that what happens is so much more complex than simply her being angry and then violent with the knitting needle.

I like what happens, despite how desperate her situation becomes.  The way her foster mum treats her after the events was good and I like how Charlene finds support for her and her situation even though things get very difficult.  The ending is good and I like what happens and how Charlene grows in this story too, however I do wish there could have been a final scene, perhaps set a little later, just to show us that things did go as we  hope they do as this ending felt a little abrupt.

I like the writing style in this book, you can really feel what Charlene is going though and I like how we get a picture of how she’s mistreated due to the prejudices against her.  There are lots of children and teens going through the care system and this book really highlights the difficulties they face.  I didn’t know there were so many restrictions for doing simple things sometimes like going out and meeting friends or family and I like how this book is informative as well as being a good fiction read.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone interested in an interesting and powerful read.  It’s quite an emotional one too, especially when Charlene faces some heart-breaking moments like what happens to her knitting and later on with visiting her sister, and it’s definitely a book that I think a lot of people should read to get rid of the stigma behind those who are in care and also those who are black, as sometimes there are reasons for certain behaviours even if they’re not always the right choices.  And as a character Charlene certainly learns from her mistakes which is great to read.

What do you think of this book?  Do you like to knit?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂