STARRED REVIEW
March 2016

The dark story behind a delicacy

By Tara Sullivan
Review by
Enveloping us in the tropical forests and cacao farms of Africa, The Bitter Side of Sweet keenly inspires empathy in readers through a tale of abusive child labor and the resilience of the human spirit.
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Enveloping us in the tropical forests and cacao farms of Africa, The Bitter Side of Sweet keenly inspires empathy in readers through a tale of abusive child labor and the resilience of the human spirit.

When 15-year-old Amadou and his 8-year-old brother, Seydou, left their home in Mali to harvest cacao plants in Ivory Coast, they assumed they would return after a season. But working as child slaves for the past two years has broken their bodies and their spirits. That is, until 13-year-old Khadija, the first girl they’ve ever seen on the farm, bursts into their lives with such ferocity that Amadou nicknames her “the wildcat.” 

Khadija attempts to escape on her first day, and when she’s caught, Amadou is blamed and beaten for it. But when Seydou is severely injured in the fields, Khadija keeps him alive after Amadou is dragged back to harvest. Amadou finally realizes the masters don’t care about his brother—they only care about his ability to work for them—and so he sets in motion a desperate plan for escape.

Tara Sullivan’s latest novel is heart-wrenching, with the power to leave a bitter taste of memory with every bite of chocolate.

 

Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.

This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Bitter Side of Sweet

The Bitter Side of Sweet

By Tara Sullivan
Putnam
ISBN 9780399173073

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