SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman, I got that and so much more.
Twelve-year-old CeeCee hasn't had the normal childhood a kid her age in the 1960's should have. She lives an isolated life without the typical childhood friendships, games and sleepovers. Living in a small Ohio town with her frequently absent father and a mother who seems to forget she's the mother, CeeCee has had to grow up pretty quickly. When not in school, she spends most of her time looking after her mother, Camille, a former southern beauty queen who suffers from strange, and sometimes bizarre behavior, that commonly wasn't talked about. There is one person in her life that CeeCee is close to and that is Mrs. Odell, the elderly widow who has lived next door ever since CeeCee was a baby. They have developed a close bond and CeeCee loves her like a grandmother.
After Camille unexpectedly dies, CeeCee is surprised when her father makes the decision for her to go live with her great aunt on her mother's side in Savannah, Georgia. Although this is the place her mother used to dream of going back to one day, CeeCee is devastated by this decision. This is upsetting to CeeCee for many reasons, including the rejection she is feeling from her father, not to mention she's never been anywhere outside of their little town and more importantly, she is reluctant to leave Mrs. Odell, her only friend.
CeeCee puts on a brave face and makes the move to Savannah with her Great Aunt Tootie, who has promised her a summer she won't forget. Right away CeeCee sees how different life is in a Southern town and especially in Aunt Tootie's grand historic house with its beautiful gardens and lovely, spacious rooms that are swimming in the Georgia sunlight.
As CeeCee settles into life in Savannah she meets the women in Aunt Tootie's circle of friends, but CeeCee has never met women like these. Strong, independent women that leave their mark on the world and have such grace about them...well, most of them anyway. But the woman who has the most impact on CeeCee is Oletta, Aunt Tootie's maid for many years.
Over the course of the summer, CeeCee experiences life as she has never known it bringing with it fun, adventure, and even fear but most of all, self discovery. With the help of these strong Southern women, CeeCee begins to realize that her mother's destiny isn't necessarily her own. She just has to be strong enough to choose her own path and follow her own dreams.
Let me first start off by saying I can't believe it took me so long to read this lovely book. I remember when it first came out and the blogs were going crazy over it. I put it on my TBR list and now, here we are. The only thing I can say is, the bloggers were right! I fell in love with CeeCee and my heart ached for the way her mother's illness affected her.
The characters in this book are strong and likable and they each play important roles in CeeCee's life in showing CeeCee how different we all can be without it being a bad thing. I especially liked the relationship CeeCee had with Mrs. Odell, her neighbor in her old neighborhood in Ohio. Personally, I had an instant connection to that relationship because as a girl of 14 my parents moved me from a small Ohio town to Florida while my older sister stayed behind to graduate. I found myself feeling alone for the first time, not knowing anyone and feeling very isolated until I met our elderly neighbor, Virginia. We spent many afternoons together sitting on her porch swing, sharing stories. She became an important person in my life just as Mrs. Odell became important to CeeCee. Another relationship I really enjoyed was the friendship that formed between CeeCee and Oletta. Cee Cee learned many things from her much older friend like what life was like in the South when you are black. I loved the protectiveness CeeCee felt over Oletta and I think CeeCee brought out a softness in Oletta that had been missing since her only child had died.
I loved everything about this book and obviously it ranks up there with my all-time favorites. Reading this book was one of the highlights of my summer, re-instilling in me that the Southern Fiction genre is the heart and soul of the literary world. It's books like Hoffman's SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT that are the proof.
SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT
Author: Beth Hoffman
Published: October 2010
Pages: 320 pp
Rating: 5 Wonderful Stars out of 5