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The Bitter Side of Sweet

Narrated by: JD Jackson
Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 wanted only 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. 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.

©2016 Tara Sullivan (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Absorbing and important." ( Booklist)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Sweetness and bitterness...

This book is a difficult read, describing the slave labor of children to produce what will ultimately become chocolate. It is well-written, well-read, gripping, and hopeful.
A little bit of post-production could have improved J. D. Jackson's terrific performance, and the author ties things up a little too tidily. But that being said, after reading this book you will never think of chocolate the same way again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous in every way.

Riveting plot with lots of twists and turns. The characterization is developed and the narrator is superb. I can’t wait to read more of Tara Sullivan’s books.