• The Bitter Side of Sweet

  • By: Tara Sullivan
  • Narrated by: JD Jackson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (80 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)

What listeners say about The Bitter Side of Sweet

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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 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful and hard to Pause

I really enjoyed this book. I could not stop listening! I don't want to put any spoilers, so I'll list my reactions. the beginning of the story really made me ask so many questions. For those questions not to be answered until so many action-packed and thrilling moments truly left me satisfied. The ending was nothing like what I thought it would be, yet so fitting for the characters, I cried like a baby, greatful for their new lives. Thank Goodness for the Epilog to have more insight afterwards. Truly Satisfying.

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Great book

This was a very engaging and interesting story about 3 children working on a chocolate plantation as forced labor, and their adventured attempt at escape. I fell in love with the characters, and will miss them. Narration was excellent as well, and made it easy to enter into the story.

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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.