The Bitter Side of Sweet, by Tara Sullivan
Fifteen-year-old Amadou and his eight-year-old brother are trapped. Two years ago they left their village in search of work. What they found instead was a life of forced labor, near starvation, and beatings on a cacao plantation in a neighboring country. Despite their hardships, Amadou is determined to earn his way back home â€“ the plantation owners told him that he and his brother could leave once they worked enough. So he spends his days trying to protect his little brother while working a dangerous job in the middle of nowhere.
And then the girl shows up. Khadija. Thereâ€™s never been a girl on the plantation before. And sheâ€™s not like the rest of them â€“ sheâ€™s been to school, her family has plenty of money, and sheâ€™s desperate to escape, even though all the other kids have given up.
But as conditions get worse and worse, Amadou starts to think that the only thing more dangerous than escaping is staying â€“ andÂ he’ll have to risk it all to run away.