The Sweet Gum Tree
Another fantastic find that I’d almost say was a perfect read, except for the angry outburst I had at a certain “reveal” that I’m still pouting about. But then again, it’s that very outburst that helped me reach the pinnacle of my emotional overload, so for sure, it added to my reading experience.
Melissa left this comment/recommendation (and I wholeheartedly agreed):
“The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred…AMAZING STORY. Not really the bad boy type but I haven’t gotten that emotional over a book in a long time! It’s one of those laugh to tears and cry your eyes out type stories that kept me up til 4 am.”
I stayed up all night with it too, Melissa. I started it the same day I finished reading “Finding Home” and I didn’t think it would be able to capture me so soon after such an addictive book, but it did. It totally had me in it’s clutches!
Sooooo so good. Heartfelt, warm and cozy, sweet, innocent and yet so passionate. And when I say passionate, I don’t mean in the steamy detailed way that we so often enjoy (kind of puts a *kick* in the reader’s experience). The passion in this book was slow coming, and tentative. We got to know the characters together, throughout their lives and when *it* finally happened, it was almost as intense as anything explicit, simply because we were already there with them, and so relieved to be living it. We were already in love.
Now you’d think a book which starts off with characters who are 8 years old and 10 years old respectively, and then proceeds to have us live their inexperienced lives with them as they grow into adulthood might seem… well… like a perfect waste of “romance” time. How can this possibly be a romance novel when so much of it (most of the first half) revolves around the two main characters (Alix and Nick) interacting as children right through to their young adult lives? I dunno how she did it folks. But from the get-go, becoming best friends as children, protecting each other, I FELT that they were soul mates.
“Are you gonna be nurse or something?”
“Nope. I’m going to be a writer.”
His expression turned to one of intense interest. “It takes someone special to write books.”
Well, I’m special, then, ’cause that’s what I’m going to do.”
“You may be right, Peewee.” He lifted a hand and tugged on one of my dark pigtails. His tone was so warm that I couldn’t take offense at the nickname. Coming from him, it sounded more like an endearment than another slur on my size.
I knew that they already loved each other, and that it would eventually be a grand love. An innocent sweet love at first, but no less meaningful than the mature passionate love that eventually evolved. Simply different, at first. Pure and real, and you knew you were going to be in for a TREAT!
His shoulder lifted in a shrug. “I’m Frank Anderson’s son and I live in a junkyard. Who’d want to marry me?”
“I’ll marry you,” I told him decisively. “That way, we can both have kids someday.”
He grinned, those dimples emerging in a blaze of glory. “Yeah, you probably would. But I don’t think you should go around telling people you’re going to marry me. They might get the wrong idea.”
And as they grew, and Alix’s crush developed and Nick was still seeing her as a little girl (his Peewee), you could feel her frustration and longing. But the other boys didn’t see teenage Alix as Peewee. They saw what Nick refused to see.
The bane of my existence was that Nick didn’t seem to notice all the changes I’d undergone. He still treated me the same way he had when I was eight, with casual warmth and humor. But I sure noted the changes in him.
But it didn’t take long for Nick to notice. First he noticed the boys and he stepped up his protective stance. But soon, he saw Alix as his. WOW. When he finally accepts her as more than his best friend, it is something to behold.
But it’s not an easy situation. Nick is from the wrong side of the tracks. Son of an abusive, ill mannered alcoholic man.
…I only knew one thing. Mother said God put each of us on this earth for a purpose, and that day I decided mine was to save Nick Anderson.
Despite the fact that Alix was raised in an upper-class family, she had no qualms with who Nick was (or “where” he was from), and luckily her family adored him too. Except when it came time for Alix to begin dating. While her family pushed her into dating some of the boys from more affluent families, Nick was insistent on keeping their love a secret, both for social reasons (he never expected he could possibly be her future with nothing to offer her in life), and he had a terrible secret that he was guarding.
“You should have told me. I’ll never let anybody hurt you again, Alix, I swear.”
But there are more kinds of hurt than physical ones, hurts that run even deeper and leave bigger scars, and not even Nick could protect me from himself.
and right under that quote is where I noted – “OMG this is gonna be soooooo good!” I knew it. I was in for some heartache!
*sigh* Nick…. brooding, gorgeous, protective and loyal almost to a fault, Nick. He’s perfect but so not.
Then… something terrible happens and Nick leaves Alix. You know why, but there are some underlying issues that have you questioning exactly what’s going on. It’s heartbreaking, and there seems to be no real choice in the matter.
Alix has to move on with her life, and you experience her very tramatic heartbreak, and then some. Just wait – I didn’t see it coming. And you think… oh no! Is the rest of the book going to be this way? Living without Nick!? Whaaaaaaaaat? All of that for Nick to be out of the picture? NO. Way! Now how is this gonna be fun reading?!!
No worries. Once you reach the halfway point, after a bit of a lot more suffering, Nick shows up.You *squee* with delight. YAYYYYYY!!!! Back to Nick and Alix! Now time for the adult passion!
End of suffering? Nope. Not by a long shot. At first I was irritated with Alix and her ‘tude. I mean, considering all of the “rumors” I understood where she was coming from, but I wanted her to hear him out first before we all – I mean SHE – got carried away. But then again, I wonder if my own reaction would have been the same. There’s a whole lot more story where this came from, and while I was rolling with the punches, and coming up with some of my own theories, there was one true reveal that sucker-punched me. Infuriated me.
I loved it!! Now of course, I wished for a bit more… and if I had one thing to complain about it would be that she would have taken her time towards the very end like she did with the whole beginning, but overall… an enjoyable, dare I say excellent read! And for the price (at least the bargain price I got it for as an e-book, you really can’t go wrong).
And for those of you have read it, please let me know how you felt about that reveal 😉