The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

 

“Lies and half-truths hurt not only the liar, but the people they love most.”

The Blurb…

Sweet tea, corn bread, and soup beans—everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever.

Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick’s abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer.

Suddenly, Nick is gone—leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick’s abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she’s starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she’s content if not happy—until the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He’s back…and he’s not alone.

Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she’s built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson’s death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.

My Thoughts…

The characters:

Alix French: sweet little girl, bright, innocent, curious and playful, when she grows-up she’s still really smart but loses some of those qualities and ends up angry at the world for justifiable reasons.

Nick Anderson: little boy from the wrong side of the tracks, hardworking and with a heart of gold but stubborn and fixated with his social status and peoples prejudices, he makes a terrible decision that end ups costing his and Alix’s happiness.

Judge/Carl French: Alix’s grandfather and the voice of reason in her family, he’s the reason Alix begins to talk to Nick and without knowing so he also takes part in their separation.

Hugh Morgan: Alix’s friend, town royalty, son of the richest couple of town, he’s a good guy but his main problem is that he always does what his mother wants or expects.

Jenna Howard: Alix’s best friend, had a huge crush on Hugh since kids.

Lindsey Swanner: Nick’s neighbor, with serious social interaction issues.

The story:

The story starts when Alix is 8 years old and Nick 10. Their first encounter is really sweet and adorable.  When Nick’s father gets drunk he usually hits Nick, so the Judge gives him a place to stay (a room in the barn) at his property. Nick becomes really good friends with Alix and the Judge, and becomes part of the French Family. You can tell that Alix has a crush on Nick since she’s a kid. When they’re teenagers they want each other but Nick is afraid of ruining Alix’s reputation and ashamed that he doesn’t have anything to offer Alix but Alix doesn’t care about that, she just loves him. They become a couple but pretend to the world that they have serious relationships with other people (Hugh and Lindsey). Later a big misunderstanding occurs (I totally blame Nick for this and I wanted to slap, hit or shake him) and Nick has to join the army, leave town and Alix. Alix marries Hugh and becomes royalty (being married to the Morgan family does that to you), but she just loves Hugh like a best friend. Because of a sad event Alix starts to blame Nick for everything that’s wrong, she becomes angry and bitter. 15 years go by, Alix is divorcing Hugh and Nick returns to town to win Alix back but he has a lot to make up for. When Alix finally founds out why Nick left town she’s livid and vicious, she wants to inflict pain:

“So I did what I’d set out to do that night. I destroyed Nick without a qualm or a single feeling of remorse. I crushed him like a bug under the heel of my torment. And when I was done, all I had left was emptiness.”

The build up to that quotes gives me chills not matter how many times I read it. I’m not going to say more but there is a scene almost at the end of the book that I love, it’s perfect and beautiful and makes my heart weep.

Hotness factor:  Since the story begins when Alix and Nick are kids everything is really innocent. By the time they’re teenagers the sexual tension starts to build up but they’re always guarded for different reasons. Eventually they give in and lose their virginity with each other.  Later on when Nick returns their passion is greater, Nick wants her back and Alix wants him but she’s furious. When she finally gives in they can’t get enough. And even though they have many hot and passionate encounters, the author does a good job to describe their feelings of love, desire, and longing without being graphic or explicit.

Unpredictable factor: For me it was really predictable what was going to happen (but maybe it’s because I’ve read so many dramas) there was only one thing that surprised me SPOILER Katie’s death SPOILER But even thought is really predictable it’s a wonderful story.

Verdict: It’s a very lovely and sweet book!!!!! I enjoyed the writing; it was refreshing ‘cause it felt like a reflection of past events with both perspectives (the one at the time the stuff was happening and the older/mature one). You get immersed in the story and characters. It’s a story filled with anger, rage and resentment but with a lot of forgiveness, healing and closure, and above all every kind of love (family, friendship, lovers).

Rating: 5 stars, I’m in love with this book!

5starstribal

reviewed by irais v2

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