"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

Fifteen-year-old Amadou and his younger brother, Seydou, are essentially slaves working on a cacao plantation in the Ivory Coast. They left their home in Mali two years earlier looking for work to help support their family who had been hit hard by a drought. The only problem, the boys have never been paid a single penny for their work and Amadou cannot figure out how many more cacao pods to they need to pick to earn their freedom. Just when the brothers have nearly given up hope of ever getting away from the plantation a girl, Khadija, arrives in the camp. Khadija has no intention of staying put and all kinds of troubles befall the brothers and other workers because she tries to run away and does not cooperate with the overseers. Everything at the camp gets stirred up including a rekindled desire in the boys to run away and to somehow get home.

Several years ago my family and I decided to drink only Fair Trade coffee after we learned about the atrocities committed again coffee workers worldwide. Most of them can't make a living wage growing and picking coffee. We extended our use of fair trade products whenever we find them, even if it means we pay a bit more for that product. We have used fair trade lotions and shampoo, eaten fair trade quinoa, sugar, and soups. We liked some of them and didn't like others. After reading The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan I did a little research and learned that most of the cacao (chocolate) is grown in West Africa, and many of workers are children living in slave-like conditions. It is heartbreaking what children have to go through for my chocolate fix. (Please read more at the Food Empowerment Project.) Now I am more determined than ever to eat fairly traded chocolate, though it is often difficult to find.

If you want to explore more about fair trade chocolate and cocoa here are a few companies I recommend: Equal Exchange; Taza Chocolate; Theo Chocolate.

OK. Now you are wondering why you should read a book which makes this reviewer list sources of fair trade chocolate, right? How about if I tell you that the cacao growers do not want this information to get out and the really tense, exciting escape and chase scenes are based on real events that involved the First Lady of Ivory Coast in 2004. And the bonus, Tara Sullivan did her homework inserting Ivorian words and places into her writing. I highly recommend this book.

Disclaimer: I listened to the audio CDs of The Bitter Side of Sweet. I the audiobook with my own money.

Day six


  1. I really want to read this one and I have it on my summer reading list. I'm just afraid that it's going to break my heart into tiny shards. Oh well, but it will be worth it.

    1. It is very disturbing but also quite hopeful. As the world becomes aware of the issue, as it did with the coffee trade I think things will get better.


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