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.