“When a chapter of your Life Book is complete, your spirit knows it’s time to turn the page so a new chapter can begin. Even when you’re scared or think you’re not ready, your spirit knows you are.” (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman)
It's 1967 in Willoughby, Ohio, and Cecelia Rose (CeeCee) Honeycutt is no ordinary 12 year-old. Largely abandoned by her father, CeeCee emerges as her mother's self-imposed caretaker - a woman with mental illness who clings to a shining moment in 1951 when she was crowned Miss Vidalia Onion Queen. When CeeCee's mother is killed by a speeding ice cream truck, it would appear as though things have gone from bad to worse, and CeeCee's world has irrevocably been torn apart. But what underlies the tragedy is a miraculous saving grace in the form of CeeCee's elderly great-aunt, "Tootie" Caldwell, a woman whom CeeCee has never met.
Setting off in her aunt's shiny red Packard convertible, which is as colorful as her personality, CeeCee is whisked away to live with well-to-do Tootie in her historic, Greek-revival style home on Gaston Street in Savannah, Georgia. It seems a magical place, and CeeCee wonders if it is providential that she has arrived in the very city to which her mother had always aspired to return. This coming-of-age story depicts a transitional summer for a wounded, frightened young girl who is anchored back to the world via a cast of strong, Southern women - each a survivor in her own right and each with her own unique blend of eccentricities and challenges in the class-conscious, racially-charged south.
It is through the wit and wisdom of these likeable, well-drawn characters--and the climax of the story that centers around a robbery attempt--that CeeCee is rescued and buoyed by the love that ultimately surrounds her. Hoffman has a real flair for turning out lively metaphors that leap off the page, where tight, concise scenes transform this bittersweet story into one full of comfort and hope.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Pamela Dorman Books, Hardcover, 9780670021390, 320pp.
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
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