Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman - review



I love the cover of this book. It's peaceful. It's pretty. It's serene. Note the molding of the house up in the corner/top of the cover. They used to build houses with these small but beautiful decorations on them....I wish they would still use these - it just adds a bit of flair to the home. I grew up in a small three bedroom house with this type of molding along the outside, and I always thought it beautiful....

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is fiction, but reads like a fairytale come true type of story. I've read that it's a coming of age but to me it was a fairytale novel. I wasn't sure if it's a young adult or an adult novel. Certainly a teen could read this, there is hardly anything that is too adult. Even though the mother in the story is obviously off her rocker and there is some mention of her abberrant behaviour, I'm sure it wouldn't be too much for most teens to read. There are a few suggestive situations. My wondering about the intended audience is because main character is a 12 year old; it's not a story beginning with her being 12 and getting older, but it's about a summer in her twelve year old life. But as an adult reader, my interest was held throughout the novel.

CeeCee Honeycutt is a twelve year old who has had it pretty rough growing up in the small northern town. Her mother has been slowly but surely losing her mind, behaving more and more psychotic. She's not violent, but she's stuck in the 1950's when she was a beauty pageant winner....unfortunately she'll show up anywhere in a gown, doing the Miss America wave, embarrassing CeeCee, causing a ruckus and generally losing control of her self. As CeeCee grew and her mother lost more of her mind, CeeCee's father stayed away more and more, pretty much neglecting CeeCee. CeeCee often had to take care of her mother - something of course, that no child should have to do - be more mature than her parent. CeeCee is pitied and the subject of gossip in school and the neighborhood. If it werent' for her many books and a very elderly neighbor, CeeCee would have been totally adrift. But CeeCee would lose herself in reading and luckily, this elderly neighbor took an interest in CeeCee and had regular Sunday breakfasts with her, as well as other visits.

As things became worse, the neighbor gets hold of CeeCee's aunt from the south. After the death of her mother, CeeCee's Aunt Tootie comes to collect her. Seems she had no idea that CeeCee's mother had declined as far as she had, and that things were as bad as they were for both CeeCee or CeeCee's mother. So CeeCee is taken to the south, and she says goodbye to her father with no regrets. CeeCee has had no relationship with her father at all, in fact she understandably has a lot of resentment built up for him.

When CeeCee is taken to her aunt's house she is reserved, shy, full of anger and resentment and doesn't have much to say to anyone. Doesn't know quite how to relate to anyone - remember her only close contact was her elderly neighbor. Suddenly she is brought into a home where she doesn't have to fend for her self, doesn't have to get her own food, etc. Aunt Tootie has a maid that's been with her for many years that CeeCee attaches herself too, begins to love like a mother.

This is why I call this novel a fairytale...from the moment that CeeCee steps into her aunt's car, things begin to go much better for her - of course, afterall things were so bad, how could they get much worse? She gets new clothes, she gets to pick her own room, she finds out that not only would she have been able to bring all the books she wanted too (her father wouldn't let her pack up her beloved books) but Tootie has a neighbor that owns a grand library with hundreds of books. Tootie suddenly has many females in her life - most of them wonderful, one who is the epitome of rude and selfish; and one who is sneaky and a bit off. During her first 12 years, the only person CeeCee had to call a friend was her neighbor. With all the new females in her life, CeeCee begins to open up and to finally blossom. Everything is great except for her utter dislike of anything close to a party dress.

The novel had a great tone to it - I felt like I was in the south, lounging in the sweltering heat and listening to a southern accent telling me a story. The dialog between all the characters was interesting. There were quite a few distinctive personalities in the book. There were so many things going right for CeeCee that I almost felt like it was too much (hence the fairytale feel) but then again there were a few things that CeeCee did have to overcome. But this a nice fairytale - with a young girl having her first real female relationships, learning about friends and family and how to forgive and love. It was a good between the urban fantasies book. The author's writing style had me reading straight through from beginning to finish; Ms Hoffman's writing kept me engaged the whole book. A good book for a light read.

I looked for other books by Beth Hoffman, but so far this is the only one published.

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