Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Author: Beth Hoffman
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Momma left her red satin shoes in the middle of the road.
Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt needs saving; she needs saving from her mentally disturbed mother and her absent father, from her own attempts to take care of her mother and protect her from herself. When CeeCee’s mother is tragically killed, her Aunt Tootie from Savannah sweeps in to save CeeCee. Tootie takes CeeCee home to her grand old house in Savannah, where the young girl finds out what it means to be truly loved and taken care of for the first time. She also discovers some strong women, women whose Life Stories are intertwined with her own.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is southern women’s fiction at its finest. This book is peopled with the most wonderfully strong and individual – and, sometimes, eccentric – women. Aunt Tootie, whose passion is for saving historic homes from demolition. Tootie’s housekeeper, Oletta, whose no-nonsense wisdom, faith, and love are exactly what CeeCee needs. Neighbors Miz Hobbs and Mizz Goodpepper, whose feud over a magnolia tree involves weaponized slugs and Polaroids of a traveling brassiere.
I adored the character of CeeCee and she became real to me as I read her story. So many times while reading I found my eyes filling with sad tears because of the things she had gone through, and then happy tears because she was taken in by these amazing women who were determined to love her.
Hoffman is the rare kind of author who can write both authentic characters and vivid settings using all five senses, and I felt wrapped in the world of Savannah while I read. I could feel the heat, smell the magnolias, taste the cinnamon rolls and fried chicken. I could see Mrs. Odell in her huge hat and dime store slippers, outrageous Miz Hobbs in her yellow feathered “chicken” peignoir and her policeman paramour with his Zorro mask. The writing moves smoothly between hysterically funny and heart-breakingly poignant, as the author gives us CeeCee’s story, but also the story of these amazing women in the 1960s South. I loved the way Aunt Tootie crossed the racial divide to include Oletta in CeeCee’s family, and to include Oletta’s friends in their family get-togethers. And I laughed until I nearly peed myself over the culmination of Miz Goodpepper’s and Miz Hobbs’s feud at Aunt Tootie’s garden party.
As you can see, this book has me gushing. There is so much to love about this story – and I am very excited that this is Beth Hoffman’s first book. I will be eagerly anticipating the next story to come from her lovely imagination.