Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I waited forever to get "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" from the Bismarck Public Library. It seemed to be stuck on two reservations ahead of mine for months. When I received it I discovered it was just 468 pages of large print, and not difficult to read at all. In fact, I zipped through it in a couple of hours. I can't understand the reason for the wait.

And I'm not at all sure the wait was worth it. When we meet CeeCee, she is 11-years-old, with a psychotic mother and mostly-absent father. She is basically left alone to care for her out-of-control mother. There is no one to care for her, except an elderly neighbor who provides a little sanity. Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt is stuck in the past, when she was the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. Wearing formal dresses she buys at the thrift shop, she is constantly doing outlandish things like joining the local parade, embarassing her daughter to no end. While CeeCee loves her mother (and her mother was very loving before she became ill), she wants her mom to just go away.

Sadly, her mother does go away, by getting hit by an ice cream truck. Her father decides to send her to live with her great aunt Tootie Caldwell, who lives in Savannah.

From the moment she arrives in Savannah from Ohio, her life is transformed just as much as the climate she lives in has. And that is where my trouble with the book started. It seemed as if nearly everything in CeeCee's life is just too perfect. Her aunt is loving, the black housekeeper seems to be gruff but really isn't, CeeCee gets all new clothes and other nice things, and delights in meeting her great aunt's eccentric neighbors. (There have to be eccentric characters in a southern novel, otherwise it just isn't southern.)

Except for a terrifying robbery and a flashback about her mother's death, CeeCee could have stepped into a Danielle Steele novel. It's as if the author, having given CeeCee so much hardship and heartache in the first part of the book, is determined to make everything rainbows and roses for CeeCee in the second part. Having CeeCee's old neighbor lady end up moving from Ohio to Savannah to live with them was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.

However, I did enjoy CeeCee's character, her relationship with Housekeeper Oletta and her black friends, and the descriptions of life in the south. But again, there was that inkling of too much perfection, because not one single character complains about the intense heat of a Savannah summer.

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