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
This book, oh this book. There is really not even enough words that can explain just how much I love this book. It took me forever to start it because let's face it, I'm a cover whore and the cover pushed me far far away from this book. A friend told me to read it so I decided to just dive in. I never expected the whirlwind of emotions that is the sweet gum tree.
The book has two parts to it, part 1 is such a breath of fresh air for me as it goes through her childhood and me being from the south, I grew up much like her. So for that alone it hit home for me. It took me back to days of working on cars with my grandpa and helping my grandma can veggies. It was nostalgic for me.
You follow through the course of her life and the amazing Nick. You see their friendship bloom into this amazing thing but one day they wake up and they realize they are not little 8 year olds anymore and their feelings are anything but 'friendly' and have now turned to lust. So what happens when you fall in love with the person you called best friend?? Well.... then part 2 happens and let me tell you, I was not expecting the amount of pure, raw emotion that part 2 caused me.
Alix and Nick have now grown into adults and shit really gets crazy. My mouth dropped, then my heart shattered, and at one point I was scared that it would never be ok again but the author made me whole again.
This is a story of life and love. Not just any love, a once in a lifetime love, a love you never recover from. I climbed into the pages of The Sweet Gum Tree expecting an ok read and when I finished it, I truly felt as if I was a better person for reading it. Amazing and Breathtaking. 5 Stars from me.
"He was always someone. Because the core of the sweet gum tree never changes. Like Nick, the deep red wood stays true to it's nature. Strong, steady, and pure."