The Sweet Gum Tree
By Katherine Allred
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 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.
I finished this book last night, and I was completely wrecked, but I did have a smile on my face. The angstometer is high with this one, but again, it was well worth it.
Alix French and Nick Anderson were just kids when they first met, only 8/10 years old. Alix is from a highly respected family, and Nick was the son of the nasty town drunk. From the very beginning, there was a connection between the two. A connection that would last decades with twists and turns that will break your heart apart.
I adored both Alix and Nick. Alix was a spitfire of a girl who approached Nick and made him her friend. They grew up to love each other, but sometimes, love isn’t enough. There was just so much Alix could take, so when Nick left, she did the best (or so she thought) she could for herself. Years later, when Nick comes back to town, secrets are revealed. Alix’s heart is shattered with all the lies and time that has gone by. Nick is still in love with Alix, but he is also devastated by all that has happened. Can these two soulmates find their way back to each other?
I have had this book on my kindle for years, and if it wasn’t for the TPAM Pick for Me Challenge, I can honestly say, I probably wouldn’t get to it any time soon. So a big thank you to Judy for pushing me to read this book!
Reviewed by Diana Murphy ~ a great friend and administrator at Turning Pages at Midnight Reader Group ~ Goodreads ~ https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/125752-turning-pages-at-midnight-book-blog