by Julia Watts


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“Julia Watts doesn’t sugarcoat the problems in contemporary Appalachia, but she also writes with big-hearted generosity and love. Kody, the gay sixteen-year-old protagonist, is sensitive, funny, and kind. I wish I’d had this book to read when I was young. Plus, Dolly Parton and dogs―what’s not to love?” —Carter Sickels, author, The Prettiest Star

“Watts’ latest contemporary Appalachian story movingly melds identity exploration with more prominent themes of addiction, family, faith, and racism. . . . The overall tone is hopeful―not unlike a Dolly Parton song itself.” —Kirkus Reviews

In rural Kentucky, a sixteen-year-old boy with a love of quilting, cooking and Dolly Parton helps his grandma care for his opioid-addicted mother, until the discovery of a family secret upends everything he has ever believed. While other sixteen-year-old boys in Morgan, Kentucky, love hunting and football, Kody prefers to spend his time quilting with his grandmother (“Nanny”), watching Golden Girls reruns, and listening to old Dolly Parton albums. Nanny is Kody’s main caregiver, but it takes both Nanny and Kody to take care of Kody’s mother, whose drug problem is spinning out of control. Between looking after Mommy and trying to survive in a place that doesn’t look kindly on feminine boys, Kody already has a hard time making sense of his life. But then he uncovers a family secret that will change everything in his life.

NEEDLEWORK by Julia Watts

ISBN: 978-1953103079; Trade Paper Original; 284 pages; $15; October 5, 2021

Past Praise for Julia Watts

“For anyone who has felt “different,” Watts’s novel will be ultimately relatable.” ―VOYA Magazine, Perfect 10 Rating

“The atmosphere is vivid: Watts’ knowledge of country Tennessee shines through in the details.” ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“[A] contemporary gem . . . touches on many societal divides including ideology, religion and sexuality.” ― Catholic Library World

“This just may be the perfect book for our times, when acknowledgement of common ground and empathy are sorely needed.” ―New York Journal of Books

“Opens important conversations about faith, family, independence, and identity.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“An examination of friendship and events in life that make us reconsider why we believe what we believe.” ―Booklist

“An amazing, heartfelt book.” ―Foreword Reviews

“Springboards conversation about family lifestyle and dynamics, the freedom of children to question their upbringing, and the power of friendship to overcome preconceptions.” Lambda Literary Review

About Julia Watts

Julia Watts is the author of thirteen novels for adults and young adults, all published by independent presses. Her books, which are set in Appalachia and often depict the lives of LGBT people in the Bible Belt, have won a loyal following and several awards. Her novel Finding H.F. (Alyson Press, 2001) won the Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category, and her historical YA novel Secret City (Bella Books, 2013) was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, a winner of a Golden Crown Literary Award, and a selection for the 2015 ALA Rainbow List.