Stitched Up

Stitched Up

By Author / Illustrator

Steve Cole, Oriol Vidal


Social Issues

Age range(s)



Barrington Stoke Ltd




Paperback / softback




The horrific real-life cost of fast fashion is exposed in this gripping tale of survival from bestselling author Steve Cole.

When twelve-year-old Hanh is offered a job as a shop assistant in Hanoi, she sees it as a chance to earn money to send back to her family living in poverty in rural Vietnam. But on her arrival in the city, she soon learns that the job offer was a lie and finds herself working in virtual slavery in an illegal garment factory.  Life in this sweatshop is a daily hell of long hours, little rest, poor food and regular violence. Hanh is desperate to escape, but when an opportunity arises will she be able to find the courage to take a dangerous chance?



Hanh used to be a girl who went to school and dreamed of a better future, a future where she would be a fashion designer. Now she is a child laborer working in an illegal clothing factory in Hanoi. Life in the sweatshop is brutal; the hours are long, the rewards are non-existent and the food is poor. The supervisor is terrifying, violence is commonplace, and sleeping on the wooden floor brings little respite from the horrors of the factory. Far from home, Hanh knows that if she ever wants to escape she must take action but when the chance presents itself will she have the courage to risk everything for her freedom…

Stitched Up by Steve Cole is a challenging and richly rewarding read that allows children to experience the world through the eyes of others who are leading very different lives. Cole whisks children away to Vietnam, a country of many fabulous people and places, but also home to horrific factories that employ young people in slave-like conditions who manufacture clothing items that end up in many high street stores. A tension-filled plot of high stakes, daring-doing, a brave fight for freedom, and an exposé of what it takes to make those worn-look jeans leaves children in little doubt as to the true cost of cheap clothing garments.

Filled with relevant and challenging themes that are perfect for discussing with children of ten plus, Stitched Up is eye-opening, brutally honest, and pulls no punches when exposing the truth behind the darker side of the fashion industry. It challenges readers to stop, to think, and to reflect on their choices, and be more conscious of how their clothes are manufactured.

A lasting impression is sure to be left on many as they come to terms with the worrying consequences of cheap and fast fashion.

128 pages / Reviewed by Safiyya Khan

Suggested Reading Age 9+

Sadiyya - Age 10

This is a very inspirational book and shows the reality and that all dreams don't always come true

Suggested Reading Age 14+


Stitched Up is a very powerful, true-to-life story that really hits home hard. I was absolutely hooked from the first word and read this in one sitting. My son (age 8) was also completely absorbed by it and finished it with lots of questions.

The great thing about this book is its powerful message. In a consumer-driven, products for cheap prices, society, this book opens your eyes to how products are mass-produced at such a pace and purchased for such cheap prices. Child slavery and child trafficking are very real and very important issues that need much more awareness. This book enables young people some insight into this issue and hopefully begins some change. If we can make young people aware, we can make changes to the world.

Stitched Up is a story based on real-life events. It tells the story of a young girl who, unknowingly by her parents is sold into child slavery. Hanh - 13 years old - believes she is going to work as a shop assistant in a big city. Instead, she finds herself in a sweatshop with other girls, working 12-hour days in the absolute worst conditions; they believe they will work there until they die.  Hanh comes up with a plan to escape but a tragedy during the course of escape begins a chain of events which, ultimately, helps set the girls free. 

This book will certainly make you question your purchases, especially from larger shops who have mass-produced items for cheap prices. This book aims to raise awareness of real-life Child Trafficking and Child Slavery. The book also aims to help people make better choices - buying from charity shops and recycling their clothes. It is a fantastic book that I think is important for everyone to read.

128 pages / Reviewed by Joanna Hewish, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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