Review: Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

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5 stars!

Absolutely beautiful!!!

Beautifully written and gut wrenchingly emotional, this is an absolutely beautiful romance between an idealistic young girl and her best friend from the wrong side of the tracks.  Young love blossoms into a heart-warming romance until everything changes, setting the scene for an EPIC second-chance romance that is angsty, heart-wrenching and sob-inducingly frustrating, yet absolutely perfect as well.  I loved it!

Part 1 of the book covers Alix’s childhood where she meets Nick – she is 8 and he is 10. Young Alix is a firecracker. She views the world simply and honestly, and I loved being introduced to her family and her town through her eyes. And even better, we get to watch her and Nick grow up together as she tries to save him from his awful family life and he is accepted as part of her family.

There is a strong connection between the two of them, even as children, and watching the different stages of their relationship was gorgeous.

From the innocence of an eight year old…

“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.”

Until Alix got a little older and sassier…

“You’re not old enough to have a real boyfriend,” he muttered.
I stiffened. “If I’m old enough to have babies, then I’m damn well old enough to have a boyfriend,” I ground out. “And just as soon as I decide on who it’s going to be, I’ll let you know.”

And ultimately they fall in love…

The idea of him making love to anyone else sent a shaft of pain straight through my middle. “You better wait on me, damn it.”
“I don’t think I have much choice.” He brushed my hair back. “You’re the only one I’ve ever wanted, Alix, the only one I’ll ever want. That’s a promise.”

The story progresses beautifully until a tragedy takes place, and everything changes in an instant. Nick and Alix are torn apart and life takes some unexpected turns.

Part 2 is essentially the ‘Fallout and Recovery’ section of the story. The fallout is bad… really bad. Like ‘multiple tissues required’ bad.

The recovery takes a lot longer and our characters certainly have to work hard for it! When Nick comes back to town to reclaim his first love, all of the secrets and emotional trauma of the past slowly start to come out, and it is truly heart-wrenching to read (more tissues definitely required!).

Nick is an amazing character. From the wrong side of the tracks, he has a huge heart and is intensely protective of those he loves. I love that he wasn’t shy about baring his soul to Alix, and did everything he could to be there for her, ready to deal with her anger and the emotion that he knew was coming.

“Do you want to know the real reason I came back, Alix?” It was because of you. You’re my roots. Wherever you are would be home to me.”

The story is very much relationship-driven. A lot of the subject matter is serious, and there are some very intense moments in the book. There are twists and turns, and a 15 year old mystery to be resolved. But most of all, there is a beautiful love story which will leave you weeping.

It’s a very emotional ride, but the ending is totally worth it and there’s even an Epilogue which finishes the story off beautifully.

I absolutely loved it!  5 stars.


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