Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hot Pick of the Week: The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

Our 5 star review by Guest Reviewer Dawn Mazzeo

The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred is one of my favorite and most emotional reads to date. It is escapism at the most decadent level. This book offers complete escape from your everyday life into the deep South where appearances are everything despite the truth that lurks underneath.

From the first chapters, I was drawn into the opposing worlds of Alix, an eight year old girl from the right side of the tracks and Nick, the ten year old son of an abusive, alcoholic single father viewed as trash, despite his boyish good looks and kind, protective heart. Alix takes it upon herself to "save" Nick and in the process discovers a romance of epic proportions as well as more bliss and heartbreak that she ever could have imagined.

While the first half of the book focuses on their innocent albeit fierce childhood connection, the second half focuses on their passionate, adult romance. Despite family pressure and economic differences, they finally seem to have everything within their reach to elope when the 20 year old Nick is forced to leave town (and Alix) when his father shows up shot to death in their broken down trailer.

The reader is left to piece together the story told from Alix's point of view but Alix can only assume why Nick chose to leave her--she does not have the whole story because Nick has his own deep, dark secrets he cannot reveal. She is left to carry on and make choices in order to survive in his absence. Then one day, fifteen years later, Nick is back on the scene ready to reclaim what he lost the fateful day he was forced to leave town.

The love between Nick and Alix is a passionate, roller coaster kind of love and the reader is left questioning and second guessing what Nick is hiding, until finally when one is about to burst at the seams, the bomb finally drops. The big reveal of what was really going on is huge and makes us question everything.

If you love an angsty, romantic read and like to root for the misunderstood underdog and his fiery, determined female counterpart complete with surprises lurking around every corner, this is the book for you!

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