Oh, y'all. This book was really good!
The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan is on our Fair Trade reading list, and I started with this one because it was readily available at my public library and it’s my favorite genre (young adult!).
15-year-old Amadou and 8-year-old Seydou left their home in Mali to look for work in the Ivory Coast, but what they found is work that doesn't pay except in punishing beatings and barely any food. After being trapped there for two years, a girl suddenly shows up - they've never had a girl on the farm before - and becomes the catalyst for change for Amadou.
What kind of work offers that delectable package of benefits, you ask? The harvesting of cacao beans, which is what 🍫chocolate🍫 is made of. Cacao farmers are paid basically nothing, so they turn to cheap labor to keep their costs down - and who's cheaper and more exploitable than children?
Lots of good research went into this, and I always appreciate that! This particular story is fictional but it is based in truth, which is that there are thousands of African children in slavery so that we can have our chocolate. It's made me think twice at the grocery store, for sure. Buy chocolate with the Fair Trade label, y'all! (And probably coffee, too, for that matter.)