The Sweet Gum Tree

The Sweet Gum Tree - Katherine Allred This was a really great read for the first half of the book. I love Alix and her innocent love for the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Nick was endearing, also, in that he just seemed confused by Alix's lack of concern for his social standing. He was never cruel to her or anyone. His lack of gentility was decided when he was born, but he wasn't bitter about it. More shy and uncaring about what other people thought. Though he DID care about Alix enough to try to save her reputation. Alix's family was wonderful, also. They weren't a part of the Southern snobbery that runs rampant in their town and took Nick under their wings, allowing him to have some stability that his abusive father never gave him. Ms Allred did an amazing job of sucking me in and plopping me down in the middle of Alix and Nick's childhood to watch their friendship grow and blossom into a beautiful love. And it really WAS beautiful. There is something magical and innocent about childhood friends who have a mutually growing, deep abiding love for each other.When the big turning point in the story finally comes, I started falling out of love. The writing is still wonderful, but the actions and decisions of many characters involved was baffling. Alix consistently overlooks major points that were obvious to me. And not only for a little while, but for YEARS, she is oblivious to certain things. She also lays the blame on the wrong people, and it's such a dumb thing to do, its pretty obvious that its designed to move the story toward a certain climax. And I hate contrived situations, ones that have no place in reality.Then the forgiveness starts to pour in, and one major point pi**ed me off. the fact that Alix's best friend, Jenna, was sleeping with her husband during their entire marriage, and even while they were dating in high school...and then Alix FORGIVES her? WTF? Infidelity is a hard limit for me, and when it's your best friend and husband, no matter that it was a bad marriage, its just gross. Not to mention utter betrayal by two people who should never, ever go there.So, despite the things that I strongly disliked, I really enjoyed this. It is a great tale of the importance of family and the non-importance of popular opinion. It also very ably demonstrates that COMMUNICATION is key to any stable relationship. When you keep secrets, the effect can be devastating.