For 12-year-old Cecelia Rose “CeeCee” Honeycutt, life has become a haze of keeping her head down and staying out of the way of cruel neighborhood kids. With her father nowhere in sight, CeeCee is left to plunge into the world of books to avoid the embarrassing antics of her mentally-ill mother, Camille, a former beauty queen who has sunk deep into psychosis. When Camille isn’t traipsing about town in tattered sashes and faded ball gowns, she’s nearly burning down their small kitchen with her attempts at cooking. And CeeCee doesn’t know what to do about it.
After an accident claims her mother’s life, CeeCee’s father briefly reappears to help sort things out — and part of that process is, in fact, to move his only daughter elsewhere. Tallulah Caldwell breezes into CeeCee’s life like a warm summer breeze, bringing with her the promise of a different life . . . of a better life. With barely any notice, CeeCee is swept up in her great aunt’s loving embrace and brought to Savannah, Georgia, where she will meet a great many new friends and maybe — finally — come to terms with her mother’s death . . . and, more importantly, her life.
Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, set in the 1960s, is Southern fiction at its best — poignant, lush and enveloping like breakfast in a sunny nook. That’s pretty much how I felt while reading this story: wrapped up in a comfortable world with colorful characters willing to share their secrets with me. CeeCee is a bright, introspective young lady who absorbs everything she sees and desperately hopes she’ll find security in Savannah. That’s what she seems to crave, more than anything: friendship. Love. Support. Understanding. Things most of us probably take for granted — myself included — but which she has never experienced after caring for her ailing mother for so long.
Hoffman’s cast of characters — almost exclusively female — include the outspoken but charming Oletta Jones, Aunt Tootie’s housekeeper; eccentric next-door neighbor Thelma Rae Goodpepper; town hussy Violene Hobbs; and Gertrude Odell, CeeCee’s elderly neighbor and surrogate grandmother from Ohio. With the help of these women — all powerful in their own way — CeeCee will learn the value of unconditional love and friendship, and I couldn’t help but want the very best things for our girl.
A minor quibble of mine involves CeeCee’s ability to think philosophically and well beyond her years one moment, but still say something adolescent and sweetly oblivious the next. Maybe that’s the jaded cynic in me bursting forward, but I felt a little annoyed with CeeCee’s naiveté a few times in the story. CeeCee as a narrator seems much older than CeeCee the character, and that may have been part of my unease. Still, it wasn’t a major issue — and certainly didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the story.
Lovers of Southern fiction and coming-of-age tales will fall in love with CeeCee Honeycutt and the friends she makes in Georgia, and those of us with a sweet tooth will savor every recipe and dish Oletta lovingly prepares in Aunt Tootie’s kitchen. My stomach grumbled so loudly at the mention of Oletta’s famous cinnamon buns that I almost had to shove the book aside and make a bakery run. I can taste that sweet icing from here! Hoffman’s ability to make my stomach gurgle — and tug at those old heartstrings — is quite a feat. A heart-warming read I’ll be passing on to friends.
4 out of 5!
ISBN: 0670021393 ♥ Purchase from Amazon ♥ Author Website
Review copy provided by the author. Thank you, Beth!
16 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Saving CeeCee Honeycutt’ by Beth Hoffman”
Wow this books sounds wonderful and right up my street. I love seeing and reading tales of the South, most especially for the warm friendly characters you find and the delicious food! This has definitely got to go on my TBR list..near the top 🙂 Thank you for sharing as always a great review.
Is this really that good? I have seen a few positive reviews for this book.
I’ll be waiting for the bookstores to display copies of this!
Great review! You’re quite the writer 😉
I loved this book, too. I kept wanting to go to Savannah as I read it.
I loved it and I want to live with Aunt Tootie too!
Thank you, Meg! I’m so glad you enjoyed CeeCee’s story.
Great review! I’m reading Gone With the Wind right now, so I’m on a southern kick 🙂
Curious – is it more adult fiction or young adult? I couldn’t quite tell from your review…and that would probably determine whether I read it or not 🙂 sounds like an intriguing book though!
Excellent question — and I should have addressed that in my review!
I would definitely classify it as adult fiction. Though CeeCee is young, the overall “tone” of the work is much older — like a grown woman reflecting back on her youth.
This one is on my list!! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!
This novel sounds wonderful. I loved your detailed and eloquent review.
I love Southern novels and coming of age stories so I think this will be right up my alley! Great review!
I’ve heard great things about this book. Thanks for sharing your honest observations.
wow! you and i were pretty close with our reviews. mine was supposed to post yesterday but i had a problem with my web server and couldn’t get the review online until this morning.
i agree with you–many books i read with young narrators often struggle to find the balance between not being too naive but not being too worldly.
it was a fun read and made me want to jump in the car and head back to savannah!
Well, this one goes on the list right now! I’m a southern girl at heart, and I do love some good southern fiction 🙂
What a FANTASTIC read!!!!! I often felt as if I were looking into a mirror and seeing very real parts of my own life from many decades ago! CeeCee took hold of my hand from the very first line which Beth Hoffman wrote until the very end of the book. My only disappointment was that there were no more pages to read! Saving Cee Honeycutt is a great book to read from cover to cover – and, perhaps have that bowl of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich for lunch as you’re reading! My hope is that this novel will be followed by more by Ms Hoffman!
I saw your review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and wanted to invite you to join her for a live chat on Thursday, March 11th at 8 PM EST. She’ll be answering questions from readers here:
I hope you’ll stop by and ask a question.
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