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.
What a beautiful love story.
Guys, this book will blow you away. It’s one of those books that you really cannot put down from the minute you open it. Everything about it was just perfect to me. The writing, the story, the characters and even everything that went wrong in this book, was just done so right.
I had this book sitting on my kindle, staring at me for months. MONTHS. And I was coming down from a huge high after Ugly Love and I really wanted another book to really make me feel. I had read a few that were sexy and hot and steamy, but I really wanted to just sit there with a cup of tea and cry. Yep, call me weird, crazy or whatever, but I was in the mood to just continue crying.
The Sweet Gum Tree was absolutely the perfect book for me right now. It had all the beautiful feels and all the wonderful moments you wish for in a beautiful love story.
“You can’t turn love on and off like a light switch, no matter how hard you try. All you can do is wall it off, one brick at a time, until you’ve created an impenetrable fortress around your emotions. And once that fortress is built, you camouflage it so well that even you can’t see it anymore.”
That quote pretty much sums up the entire book for me. It’s written in two parts. Before Nick went away, and after. How it’s written is also a huge reason why I think I loved it so much. It’s written as if Alix is re-telling you the story. From when she was a child, until the present day, which is the epilogue. She begins her story from the mind of her eight year old self, with the knowledge and wisdom of her adult self, and it’s brilliant. In terms of the story, I will not be discussing any of that. It’s too important to just read it from start to finish without knowing anything other than what is said in the synopsis.
But this book was exactly what I needed. If it’s been on your TBR list for a while, I’d say now is the time to bump it up. It surprised me and I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner.
Nick and Alix are wonderful characters. You really get a feel for their relationship as children in the beginning and then it just builds beautifully from there. Katherine has written a wonderful tale of love, friendship, betrayal, secrets and lies and has rounded it all up with a perfect conclusion to what I think is one of the most beautiful love stories I have read in a long time. The passion, love and sacrifices these characters make for one another is truly amazing yet completely heartbreaking to see, but I couldn’t look away.
This is a story I will definitely be reading again very soon. It’s a standalone with a beautiful HEA.
Buy The Sweet Gum Tree (kindle)