Sunday, December 1, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: THE SWEET GUM TREE by Katherine Allred

The Sweet Gum TreeThe Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book that I’ve read by Katherine Allred, so I pretty much don’t know what to expect about her writing. I picked this book up because I saw a friend of mine here on Goodreads who just finished reading this book and rated it FIVE STARS. I was curious, so I straight away checked its blurb. It ended up sparking my interest (I CAVE IN, THE BLURB WAS CUTESY), that’s why I read it as soon as I was done reading The Fiery Heart.

By now, I can tell you that Allred is a great author who can really evoke emotions within readers through her writings. Emotions run high in The Sweet Gum Tree. What a rollercoaster ride! One minute you’ll be like jumping up and down and then the next minute you’ll be filled with hatred towards a character or two. But towards the conclusion of the book, you’ll just end up understanding them and the circumstances that they have gone through. The emotions were REAL, you can certainly feel everything our characters were feeling. The story ripped my heart out, it truly broke me but it managed to put me back up with that kind of ending.

The Sweet Gum Tree’s story focuses on Alix French’s life. At eight years old, she met Nick Anderson, son of Frank Anderson – a person who has a marred reputation in their small town because of his filthy/repulsive ways of living. Alix made it her life mission to save Nick Anderson’s life from everything, even from the wrath of his father. Alix befriends him and alongside with her grandfather, Judge, they welcomed Nick into the French family and offered him to house the vacant room in the barn.

As time passed by, Alix’s relationship with Nick blossomed. From just two people acknowledging each other’s presence with a nod it turned to Nick being Alix’s protector. Innocent touches turned into something more. Their relationship got deeper and deeper…Until they ended up having a secret relationship. Nick’s insecurities of being his father’s son and the existence of another person, Lindsey (a girl that Nick feels like protecting because of an unexplainable circumstance AT THAT TIME) were the factors that hindered them from being fully and publicly together.

Everything went downhill, when Frank Anderson was shot dead and Nick was the primary suspect for the crime. This situation forced them to be apart from each other. Nick was sent to the army, leaving Alix alone and (without Nick’s knowledge) pregnant…

What will happen now when they meet again after FIFTEEN YEARS? FIFTEEN LONG YEARS with so many things happened during that time span… Marriage. Death. Divorce. What will happen to Alix when she finally learns the TRUTH behind Frank Anderson’s death? Will Alix be able to muster and tell Nick about their daughter? Will their past encumber them to have a FUTURE?

This book is about friendship, love, heartaches, secrets and family. I love how the book opens from an eight year old girl’s perspective; it’s just a refreshing POV to go through. How easy life could be – playing and just reading books - and what concerns someone at that age have, but in some ways Alix is quite mature for her age. Who at the age of eight decides to save someone else’s life and consider it her life mission? Uhmm. It’s not an easy task to do. And I love how Alix embarks on that task; she does it in her own little ways and ends up being effective of bringing life into Nick.

Friendship, love and heartaches were explored here in this book and I love every single bit of it. I’m a sucker for this kind of story. It just tugs my heartstrings and turns me into a leaking faucet. Alix and Nick’s friendship is just one of the wonderful and cute-sy relationship I have ever seen. I was laughing really hard when Alix was saying to her family members that someday she’s going to marry Nick and have kids with him. The innocence, man. I also love how Nick responds to Alix’s inquisitive ways, even if it puts him on the spot. You can see Nick being gentleman about it and mature for his age.

But with that closeness, affection and chemistry they have since they were kids, they really are bound to slip up and fall in love with other person. I think, it’s kind of expected to happen in relationships like that (or the author just made it so real, that my mind is thinking that it’s really that expected to happen). Even though their relationship as a couple was a secret, you can feel the love and devotion they have for each other. It’s very strong that not a single problem/heartache can put a stop to those feelings they have. Alix and Nick’s love for each other is the kind of love that lasts a lifetime.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I commend Allred’s take on how everything unfolded. I don’t know if my mind was not just conjuring guesses at that time I was reading this or Allred just perfectly managed not to drop hints at all about the possible story/truth that involves Lindsey, Nick and Frank Anderson’s death. I never would’ve guessed that that would be the truth. She put up a very sneaky move on how everything’s woven into the story. Knowing about Alix’s feelings about the whole fiasco (or the past TRUTH/story) and then just learning the whole truth coming from Lindsey’s mouth, left me emotionally messed up. There was a lot to take in. I felt like I was really Alix, with all these emotions bottled up inside me and then suddenly a bomb was dropped on my lap … Phew phew! Too much!

The ending made me cry a lot, gahhd it was just perfect for the story. I SWEAR. EMOTIONS WERE REAL. You will feel everything seeping into your bones and into your heart. *tugs at your heartstrings*

"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...I've never stopped loving you. I won't give up that easily." – Nick Anderson

Bye x

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