Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

[openbook booknumber=”9780670021390″][rating:4/5]

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 tragedy strikes, 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 Mix Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapon, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, 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 hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Above all, it is a book full of feminine wisdom – one to cherish, remember, and share.

Reading about CeeCee’s adventures had me by turns laughing out loud and nearly in tears as her life unfolded over the course of this wacky southern summer.

She looked up and smiled. “I’m glad you found some books that interest you. Would you like a glass of lemonade?”
       Though I was hoping to thank her for the books and be on my way, I didn’t want to seem rude. I nodded and set the stack of books on the counter. While Miz Goodpepper pulled a pitcher from the refrigerator, I asked, “Is the Kama Sutra a volcano?”
       She gasped and splashed lemonade across the kitchen counter. The strangest look streaked across her face as she sopped up the mess with a wad of paper towels. “Well, I suppose some might think it’s a volcano of sorts, but I can say with absolute assurance you wouldn’t enjoy that book.”
       “That’s what I thought,” I said, feeling pleased with myself, “so I put it back on the shelf.”
       She let out a barely audible sigh. “Good.”

Her life before coming to Georgia with her insane mother who was still trapped in her days as a beauty queen and absent father who spent long stretches of time away from home “on business” with another woman were heartbreaking to read about. Even as my heart was breaking for CeeCee though the story kept things from getting too dark with the help of CeeCee’s young age and resilience as well as the zany humor written throughout.

In a lot of ways reading Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is like being wrapped in a cozy summer blanket. I loved reading the descriptions of Savannah, Georgia and of the over grown gardens of her great-aunt Tootie. I loved reading about all the women that touched CeeCee’s life that summer to the point where she thought Savannah was a place that seemed to be, “entirely run by women”. And, I loved reading about Southern hospitality and seeing all of the ways that the women of Savannah worked to heal CeeCee’s heart.

The plot takes a slow meandering pace that is just perfect for a lazy summer day’s read. It’s just plain a comfort read. Even when danger shows that Savannah also has its share of trouble, CeeCee learns to brave through it all with the help of strong women, courage and heart.

The language was beautiful to read, the humor at times laugh out loud funny and the characters wonderfully drawn and realistically rendered. This is a fantastic story of the power of women, the art of healing emotional scars, and the wonder of a southern summer. This is a great summer read, I highly recommend it.

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