Being part of a critique group means that you see drafts way before they hit the shelves, which means that you spend a while wishing that you could tell absolutely everyone about this amazing book that they have to read right now.
Fortunately I don’t have to hold back my enthusiasm any more, because The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan, because it is available today! That’s right, you lucky readers you–you can now own your very own copy of one of the most powerful, touching books I’ve ever read. There’s totally a reason why this book has four (yes, four!) starred reviews.
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 Baba 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.
In the Boston area and want to celebrate this powerful book in person? Come to The Bitter Side of Sweet’s launch party tonight at Porter Square Books!
This is a book that gives voice to the tragic reality too many children face today, and deserves to be on everyone’s reading list. Get your copy of The Bitter Side of Sweet today!