The Bitter Side of Sweet: Book summary and reviews of The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

The Bitter Side of Sweet

by Tara Sullivan

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan X
The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan
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Book Summary

For fans of Linda Sue Park and A Long Way Gone, two young boys must escape a life of slavery in modern-day Ivory Coast.

Fifteen-year-old Amadou counts the things that matter. For two years what has mattered are the number of cacao pods he and his younger brother, Seydou, can chop down in a day. This number is very important. The higher the number the safer they are because the bosses won't beat them. The higher the number the closer they are to paying off their debt and returning home to Moke and Auntie. Maybe. The problem is Amadou doesn't know how much he and Seydou owe, and the bosses won't tell him. The boys only wanted to make some money during the dry season to help their impoverished family. Instead they were tricked into forced labor on a plantation in the Ivory Coast; they spend day after day living on little food and harvesting beans in the hot sun - dangerous, backbreaking work. With no hope of escape, all they can do is try their best to stay alive - until Khadija comes into their lives.

She's the first girl who's ever come to camp, and she's a wild thing. She fights bravely every day, attempting escape again and again, reminding Amadou what it means to be free. But finally, the bosses break her, and what happens next to the brother he has always tried to protect almost breaks Amadou. The old impulse to run is suddenly awakened. The three band together as family and try just once more to escape.

Tara Sullivan, the award-winning author of the astounding Golden Boy, delivers another powerful, riveting, and moving tale of children fighting to make a difference and be counted. Inspired by true-to-life events happening right now, The Bitter Side of Sweet is an exquisitely written tour de force not to be missed. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A tender, harrowing story of family, friendship, and the pursuit of freedom. Fiction. 12 & up." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. There are so few stories for teenagers that provide a glimpse into the complex global systems, such as cocoa production, that they unwittingly participate in every day and likely take for granted. An author's note, glossary, and source material provide further context to engage readers and teachers. Absorbing and important." - Booklist

"Starred Review. An engaging story that will engender empathy in readers." - School Library Journal

"Starred Review. In a poignant scene...Amadou drinks hot chocolate, but gags when he realizes its source. His plea to Khadija's journalist mother to write their story, or "we won't have anyone to speak for us," underscores the disturbing realities underlying this heart-wrenching survival tale." - Publishers Weekly

This information about The Bitter Side of Sweet shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Becky H

This sweet has a very bitter side
This middle school novel tells the story of three children caught in the cacao industry in the Ivory Coast. Although hard to read because of the brutal treatment of the children, the book tells a worthwhile story. The three children of the story are two boys mislead to believe they would be working only for a season for wages. Instead they were neither paid nor allowed to leave. They worked under very harsh primitive conditions. The third child was a girl kidnapped and forced to work the cacao fields because her mother, a journalist, was exposing the slave-like conditions of the workers. The story of the children’s eventual escape is both heartbreaking and thrilling.
The afterword offers a way to affect the harvesting of the cacao pods and the mistreatment of the children.
Not recommended for tender hearted, younger children.
5 of 5 stars

riley

The bitter Side of Sweet
This book is about two brothers who were tricked into child labor. Not only hard work involved but beatings too.

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Author Information

Tara Sullivan

Tara Sullivan is the author of the award-winning and critically acclaimed Golden Boy. She was born in India and spent her childhood living in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic with her parents, who were international aid workers. She received a BA in Spanish literature and cognitive science from the University of Virginia, and an MA in Latin American Studies and an MPA in nonprofit management from Indiana University. She currently lives with her family in Massachusetts.

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