Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, 2010

Cecelia Rose Honeycutt, or CeeCee as her Momma calls her, has been stuck as the caretaker of her psychotic mother whose mind is stuck in her days of being crowned the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen back in Georgia. Her father is mostly absent, always traveling for "business" and refusing to acknowledge that her mother needs help that he hasn't already gotten for her. But tragedy strikes, and CeeCee finds herself in Savannah, Georgia with her Aunt Tootie, someone she had never known even existed. But in Savannah, she finds a home and a family of women she never even dreamed of in Willoughby, Ohio.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a lovely little novel full of maxims and life philosophy, all from the mouths of wise women in this new world into which CeeCee is thrust. She is so used to being alone, to being an outcast and a laughingstock because of her mother, that she doesn't know what to make of her new home at first. But CeeCee eventually makes friends with the ladies of the neighborhood, including Oletta, the woman who runs Aunt Tootie's household, Miz Goodpepper, her eccentric and exotic next-door neighbor, and of course, Aunt Tootie herself, a warm and welcoming relative that I would love to find out was my long-lost aunt.

This is certainly a character-driven novel. The setting plays an incredibly important role as a character too; Savannah makes its residents who they are, even CeeCee's mother who was stuck up in Ohio and pined for her home down South. The lushness of the setting comes through on nearly every page, opening CeeCee's eyes to the natural world.

CeeCee was okay as a narrator. Hoffman got the dialogue for her right, but something felt just slightly off about her narration. I'm assuming she is telling the story years after the events of the novel, which take place in the late 1960s, but I still felt unsure about where CeeCee was coming from.

Overall this book was enjoyable, but I think I was expecting too much. There was less plot than I expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I sometimes wished more things would happen. I think I was expected something more along the lines of something by Fannie Flagg, who by the way is fantastic and I wholeheartedly recommend Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. I would also recommend this book if you're looking for something strictly character-driven and you enjoy a Southern setting.

Disclosure: I bought this book at a library book sale.

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