The Sweet Gum Tree - Katherine Allred *Buddy read with Rachel. You can read her review here.*

"No one should have to go through life with only half a heart."

I usually judge my novels on the basis of: 1) how well I liked the characters, 2) how much I enjoyed reading about them, and 3) how emotional I felt on their behalf, or CEE (Characters, Enjoyment, and Emotions) for short.

Characters - 3.5 stars:

The characters are well-rounded and real, but the only problem is that I didn't like any of them.

I didn't like Alix because I couldn't identify with her no matter how hard I tried and we simply had nothing in common. I didn't like Nick because of his "I don't deserve anything good, I'm afraid I'll taint it, better that I run away now than to hurt later" attitude. I didn't like Jenna because she was sleeping with her best friend's boyfriend, and later, husband and I didn't like Hugh because he was a coward.

Enjoyment - 2.5 stars:

For the most part, I didn't enjoy reading [b:The Sweet Gum Tree|2761356|The Sweet Gum Tree|Katherine Allred||2787065] because nearly every single event was overshadowed by uneasiness.

I would have enjoyed the story a million times more if I'd been given the chance to make up my thoughts myself, rather than Alix coming along after every scene and telling me not to appreciate anything because something truly bad and tragic would be happening soon, and if she'd known that beforehand, she wouldn't have done this or would have done that, etc. Throughout the novel, I was simply anxious. Not in an "OMG, I can't wait to see what happens next!" way but in an "Oh no, oh no, OH NO!!!" way.

Emotions - 5 stars:

Like I said earlier, I was pretty nervous while reading this. Along with that distress, however, was genuine care for the characters and sympathy for everything they went through. The beginning was simply beautiful with Alix and Nick's childhood romance and despite the rocky interval between their young love and HEA, their ending was perfect.

This is an unforgettable and heartwrenching account of love, family, grief, forgiveness, and life. It's also one of the most compelling stories I've ever read. I only put this book down once, and that was because my eyes simply refused to stay open. Since I started reading it, I didn't get any peace of mind until I'd read the last page and confirmed that Alix and Nick got their HEA.

I felt happy, depressed, exhilarated, restless, scared, and pure joy while reading Alix's story. Highly recommended for fans of emotional and memorable novels!

Overall - 3.7/5 stars
"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading." - William Styron

I'm definitely a bit wiser after reading this and emotionally exhausted as well, so I suppose that makes [b:The Sweet Gum Tree|2761356|The Sweet Gum Tree|Katherine Allred||2787065] a great book.

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