Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Summary: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman's sparkling debut is, as Kristin Hannah says, "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart." It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. -- Pamela Dorman Books/Viking


I realize that I reviewed a book yesterday which I thought was one of the best books that I've read in quite awhile, but evidently 2010 is starting out with a bang for me! I just read another book SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman which I absolutely adored! I actually can't stop raving about this book either, and I have been telling everyone (and I mean everyone) that they need to read this very sweet book!

Evidently I'm not alone in my excitement because SAVING CEECEE is getting a ton of fantastic praise. It has already been chosen as the first book for Sam's Club's new book club, and I have seem a lot of buzz for the book on Twitter. Since the book isn't even officially released until tomorrow, I'm sure that this is only the beginning. I have a sneaking suspicion that many book clubs will be reading about CeeCee this year!

First and foremost, I think SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT is just a wonderful novel. I absolutely fell in love with CeeCee who is really just a nice little girl who has been dealt a pretty crappy hand in life. She really doesn't have the best family situation -- her mother is mentally ill and her father copes with her mother by leaving town for his job. CeeCee is constantly being embarrassed by her mother, and she is forced to grow up way before she should have had to. My heart absolutely broke over and over again for her, yet I could see her underlying strength and intelligence. I just knew that there was hope for her. I mean...the girl turned to books to help her escape her problems. How couldn't I fall in love with her?

It isn't until her mother dies in an accident and her great aunt comes to take her away to live in Savannah that CeeCee actually begins to experience the kind of life she deserves. Once she arrives in Savannah, she faces a cast of female characters that is just terrific. She meets all types of women (both good and bad, and almost always funny), but I most appreciated the characters of Tootie, CeeCee's great aunt; and Oletta, her aunt's housekeeper. These two women not only took care of CeeCee in a physical way, but they also went to tremendous lengths to help her begin healing mentally.

Rarely have I loved a character like Oletta, and I think the relationship between CeeCee and Oletta was certainly something special. I appreciated how Oletta took care of CeeCee and taught her lessons, but I also enjoyed seeing how much CeeCee improved Oletta's life. Oletta was a tough cookie, but she was always full of wonderful advice for CeeCee. I found myself making note of her "words of wisdom" many times as I read this story.

I admit that I am a little biased towards the author Beth Hoffman. I have been tweeting with her for a few months, and she is the nicest person. If you'd like to learn more about her, you can check out this interview. But I promise you that my opinion of the book was not swayed in the slightest because I happen to like Beth! This is Beth's debut novel and I promise you that it is definitely a winner. She has created extremely memorable characters and her descriptions of Savannah and the South are just beautiful! I am certainly hoping that she has another novel almost finished because I can't wait to read more of her work.

Now it's not my turn to pick a book for my book club for quite awhile, but rest assured that I'm going to be bragging this one up tomorrow night -- hint..hint! There is already a reading guide available; however, I came up with a ton of things when I was reading the book that I think would make for a great discussion. Some of the themes in this novel are mental illness, the definition of a family, friendship, the strength of women, and forgiveness.

I can't recommend SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT enough if you like Southern fiction, coming-of-age stories, or women's fiction in general. If you've already "met" CeeCee, I'd love to hear what you think!

Thanks to the author for sending me an ARC of SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT.

24 comments:

brizmus said...

Lucky you, reading two AWESOME books in a row like that!
Being from the south, I tend to love southern fiction, so I'm guessing I've got to give this book a try!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I too adored this book! It was my first book of the year and it was a great one to start the New Year off with!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Well, I think I'm convinced. When you hear reviews like this (similar to Guernsey or The Help) you just have to step up and trust that you want to be in on the buzz. Plus, Savannah has built-in atmosphere!

bermudaonion said...

I loved this book, too! Part of CeeCee's appeal to me (besides books, of course) was that she wasn't perfect. I wanted to visit Savannah while I read this book!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Great review Julie. I have been waiting for this one to come out for awhile, so I am glad that its is as wonderful as I was expecting it to be.

Jo-Jo said...

Sounds like you loved this one Julie and now I'm even more excited about reading it. I love southern fiction and I just put this one in my tote bag this morning so I plan on starting this during my lunch today...can't wait! lol

Our Westmoreland School said...

I guess this will have to be added to my list of books to read this year. At this rate, I'll be creating a 2011 list by February ;)

Thank you for sharing!

Jonita said...

I will absolutely have to check this one out now- no excuses! I haven't seen a bad review yet :)

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I haven't seen a bad review yet either; definitely one I'll be checking out!

Jenny Girl said...

This sounds like such a sweet little book! adding it to the TBR as we speak. Thanks Julie.

Dar said...

Great review Julie. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

Allie said...

This one is going on my list. I love Southern fiction (even though I'm from NY).

trishalynn0708 said...

I honestly know where you are coming from.. I am reading it right now and I can not say enough about it.. I have never in all of my years of reading read a book that has touched me like this one has.. I literally got teary eyed at the beginning of the book and I can't remember ever having a book do that.. You feel for CeeCee, it is like she jumps out of the page at you..
The author sent me 2 books. One to read and one to review, I am having a giveaway for the second book on the 15th.. And I am very excited to be able to offer others this great read!!
Amazing review! :)

Amused said...

I think this book sounds so great! Wonderful review!

holdenj said...

I can't wait to read this! I have been hearing wonderful things about it and sure wish I had a Sam's membership!
Isn't it great to kick off the year with a good one?! My first of the year was When You Reach Me...it was super.

Meg said...

I really loved Oletta, too -- such a great woman! (Or character, but she seems more like a real woman to me! haha) Definitely a great, heart-warming debut.

Bonnie said...

I loved this book as well and believe it will be a hit this year. I am going to meet Beth Hoffman at a local book signing tomorrow night and am excited!

Beth F said...

I must get to this one sooooooon

Anna said...

I've heard nothing but good things about this book. I'm definitely going to have to get my hands on a copy! Glad you're off to a good start with 2010 reads!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Kristen said...

Hi
I wanted to let you know that you can join author Beth Hoffman for a live chat on Thursday,March 11th.
http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/publishersoffice/subcontent/watercooler.html

Stop by at 8 PM EST and ask a question!

Beth F said...

Now that I've read and reviewed the book I came back! You are right Oletta is a great character.

Lori said...

I'm craving a sequel!!!!

Lori said...

I'm craving a sequel!

Journey2Goal said...

I think I'm picking this for our next book club pick! I ran across it online, then came to your blog to read your review... I knew you'd read it:)