Monday, 13 August 2012

Review: The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

The Sweet Gum Tree

  Title: The Sweet Gum Tree
  Author: Katherine Allred
  Publisher: Ellora's Cave
  Publication date: November 1st 2005
  My rating: 4 stars


Goodreads Description: 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.

This story spanned twenty-five years, from a sweet childhood friendship and romance, to an all-consuming love story. 

This story begins when eight-year old Alix first meets ten-year old Nick.  From then on, their lives are irrevocably connected when Alix decides to save Nick from his abusive and neglected existence by molding him into her world and family. 

”In hindsight, I suspect that was the day my crush on Nick started.  I was only eight and I didn’t understand love and desire, would have thought it was disgusting if anyone had told me about it, but watching him made me feel warm and content inside.  Somehow, my mission had gone from saving him to keeping him close enough that I could see him every day.”

Alix befriends Nick, taking him under her wing, making him welcome in her life, sharing her books, and family with him.  Her family supports Alix in her endeavor 100%, and when they find out Nick received a beating from his dad, they make sure it doesn’t happen again. They make sure whenever his father gets violent, Nick has a place to go.  They update a guest room in their barn and stock with clothes, books, and any other necessary thing, with an open invitation.  These two stay close all growing up, and what starts as friendship when they’re kids, grows into romance and a sizzling attraction when they hit the teen years.  Although Nick for a long time refuses to allow anything to happen, he feels he’s not good enough for Alix and is afraid he might treat her as his father treats women.  There is a wide social gap between Alix and Nick, and in the little town where they grow up, class distinction and prejudices run high.  Don’t worry though, Alix and her family pays no attention to that.    However, when Nick’s father is murdered, Nick confesses and claims self-defense and is sent away to the military by the sheriff and told not to come back.  Alix is left broken-hearted and pregnant.  She makes some rash decisions because of this, and the two are separated for fifteen-years.  Nick suddenly turns up determined to win Alix back but bitterness and hurt have taken up residence in Alix’s heart, so it’s going to be a bumpy road. 

This was such an engrossing, sweet and emotional story!  I started and finished this in one day because I couldn’t put it down.  In fact, I buddy read this with my friend Dija, and she picked it up before I did, then ended up finishing way ahead of me because she couldn’t put it down either.  So much took place in this that had me riveted, I was forced to ignore some things that would’ve completely irritated me in other stories.  Lack of communication was one of them but, trust me, you won’t notice it because you’ll be too busy turning the pages wanting to know what happens next.    

The characters in this were amazing and well-developed, especially Alix and Nick.  But all the secondary characters were well fleshed out too.  I just loved her grandfather, the Judge!  The way he accepted and took Nick under his wing with no questions asked, just touched my heart.  Alix’s mother was very sweet, but flawed as well.  Then the aunt’s; Jane with her sad story and Darla with her prim and proper ways, were both loveable in their own ways.   I really could go on and on, but I think this is a story that needs to be discovered on your own.  Just know that you should have a block of time available if you start this because you’re not going to want to put it down.  

This book is a steal of a deal right now, only $1.49 for e-readers on either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Thanks Dija for reading this with me!  I had great fun ranting, gossiping, and analyzing with you. 



  1. This sounds like a really emotional read, Rachel. I like reading adult contemporaries from time to time, so I might check this one out when I'm in need of one.
    Alix and Nick sound like amazing characters. I feel sad since both of them seem to have suffered a lot. :(
    Beautiful review, Rachel. :)

  2. Oooooo I love a good deal Rachel! I definitely would have passed right by this one if not for your review, but now I know I have to meet Alix and Nick! Good to know that things like miscommunications that would irritate you normally weren't an issue, I love when I'm so desperate to know what happens that I gloss over any flaws:) Fabulous review!

  3. Awesome review Rachel!!!!!!!!!! I really really can't wait to read this book and become engrossed with this love story! I love the way you described the story and I love how this book sounds like its unputdownable. I really don't mind miscommunication, unless its excessive, because that is realistic.

  4. I've seen this book a couple of times and it does sound pretty emotional and intense. Alix and Nick's story sounds so poignant and heart breaking but I'm glad that it went well in the end. I'll definitely be checking this one out. I'm glad you enjoyed this so much. Brilliant review, Rachel! :)

  5. I'm so glad you got the chance to read this one, Rachel! I've seen a lot of mixed reviews about it and have been on tenterhooks about whether or not to pick it up, but you've definitely convinced me that I need to read this book. It sounds marvelous and I'm curious to meet these characters already! Plus, I love unputdownable stories! :) Wonderful review, Rachel! :D

    Ivy Book Bindings

  6. I haven't heard of this one before but I do really like the sound of it! A good romance always makes me smile. I'm glad to hear the characters were a well-developed bunch. Thanks for the helpful review, Rachel! :)

  7. I love your reviews for romance books, Rachel, and this one is not an exception! <3 It sounds very good and touching! I think this one should be my next book if I ever in need of break from all those YA books! I'm sure I'm going to fall in love with Alix and Nick's relationship - the way you describe it is just so lovely and touching! <3

    Fantastic review, Rachel! <3

  8. Thanks for introducing me to this book, I love romance stories that start out as friendship and slowly grow into more. This book sounds both intense and very emotional. I don't think I've ever seen a book that spanned so many years! Wonderful review!

    New Follower =)

  9. I love stories that span throuhg years and years, they're so much better than the instalove, entire series in two month period stuff.

    Alix and Nick sound so wonderfully sweet, I really want to meet them.

  10. Sounds really sweet the realtionshp with Alix and Nick. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for review,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  11. i love these types of books. will check it out. gr8 review

  12. This does sounds really sweet and I bet it made for a great read-a-long :)

  13. This sounds like a sweet story with a lovely romance Rachel. I hadn't heard of it before, thanks for sharing. Glad you enjoyed it!


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