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The Bitter Side of Sweet

Review

The Bitter Side of Sweet

Born in Calcutta, Tara Sullivan grew up traveling the world with her international aid-worker parents. She moved to the United States just in time to attend high school in Virginia. She later attended the University of Virginia and was an AmeriCorps volunteer for one year in Minnesota. She attended graduate school in Indiana and now works as a high school Spanish teacher. She is the author of the young adult book GOLDEN BOY and the winner of the 2014 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People Award. THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET is her second novel, taking on issues just as severe as those in GOLDEN BOY.

"THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET ending up being much more poignant than I expected, and it genuinely changed the way I see chocolate and fair trade products."

THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET follows 15-year-old Amadou and his eight-year-old brother, Seydou, who are modern-day child slaves in the Ivory Coast. Amadou and Seydou try to stay alive as they are forced to harvest cacao pods all day for no pay. The two brothers are stuck in this vicious cycle until one day Khadija, the first girl they have ever seen at the camp, appears and changes their experience in the camp forever as they try to escape together.

THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET is a heart-wrenching, motivating and essential read for readers of all ages. Amadou and Khadija were real inspirations and were so brave at such a young age. The events of the story were shocking most of the time, and I was educated on so many topics as I read the novel. It was so hard to put the book down because I was worried about these characters so much.

Tara Sullivan’s novel may be fiction, but it is also very real for some children in the Ivory Coast. THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET ending up being much more poignant than I expected, and it genuinely changed the way I see chocolate and fair trade products. Before I read the novel, I had no idea that this story is a reality for children in the Ivory Coast today, and that I could very well be eating that chocolate. I believe that I am much more informed on pressing issues that are faced today due to reading THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET.

I highly recommend reading THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET because it will change the way you see certain aspects of the world. I believe that the more we are educated on important issues such as child slavery, the more we can do to combat them together. Everyone should put this book on their to-read list, and it is one of the most influential books that I have read in a long time.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on July 28, 2017

The Bitter Side of Sweet
by Tara Sullivan