TITLE: SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT
Details: Large Print edition
Cecelia Rose (CeeCee) Honeycutt is only twelve years old when her mother, Camille, dies in a terrible accident in 1967. By then she has been taking care of her psychotic mother for years while her father, a travelling salesman, spends less and less time at home. Camille who was born and raised in Georgia is deeply unhappy in Northern Ohio; so unhappy that eventually she rejects her everyday reality and lives her life as if it is 1951 and she has just won a Georgia beauty pageant. With her mother going around town in elaborate party dresses and a tiara in her hair, CeeCee has become the laughing stock among her peers. Without friends and with responsibilities beyond her years, CeeCee’s only support is Mrs. Odell an elderly neighbour.
After her mother’s dead CeeCee’s father decides that she would be better of living with her great-aunt Tootie in Savannah. Rejected by her father and forced to leave behind the only person to ever take care of her, CeeCee travels to her new home with a heavy heart and only Mrs. Odell’s words to give her strength:
“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.”
And Savannah really is a new page in CeeCee’s Life Book. From her aunt who never seems to stop and can’t think bad about anybody to Oletta Jones the house cook, from the eccentric neighbour looking for Nirvana and prone to taking naked midnight baths to the rude lady having an affair with a local policeman, the women in her new town welcome the lost girl with open arms and show her life beyond the sadness.
Over the course of a long, hot summer CeeCee learns about love, acceptance, prejudice, loyalty as well as rules to live by:
“Don’t grow up too fast darling. Age is inevitable, but if you nurture a childlike heart, you’ll never ever grow old.”
It will take CeeCee a while to get over the guilt she feels about her mother’s dead and the fear she has that she, like her mother, is destined to one day lose her mind. But when she does - thanks to all the strong and loving women in her life – she also finds the strength to forgive herself and accept that, even at her maddest moments, her mother loved her; a realisation that brings back words her mother once spoke:
“It’s how we survive the hurts in life that brings us strength and gives us our beauty.”
This is an emotional roller-coaster of a book. It is impossible not to have your heart break when you read about young CeeCee dealing with her mother’s madness and the pain and feelings of guilt she goes through after her mother dies. But it is equally impossible not to smile and even laugh at the antics the ladies in Savannah get up to occasionally and by the end of the book your heart will rejoice at CeeCee’s new found happiness and faith in the future.
In CeeCee Honeycutt Beth Hoffman has created a realistic and endearing character that will stay in your thoughts long after you finish the book. The author has managed to perfectly catch the thoughts and feelings of a twelve year old girl with the weight of the world on her young shoulders. CeeCee is a child who knows far too much about everything that can be wrong in the world and that comes across clearly.
CeeCee’s new home in Savannah is described with almost cinematic clarity; I could hear the voices, see the old houses, the gardens and taste the glorious food.
This is a beautiful and emotional story about love and survival with a realistic and wonderfully uplifting ending. This is a lovely read!