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Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

When her crazed mother has embarrassed her again by prancing in public in her red heels and Miss Vidalia pageant dress and crown, twelve-year-old Cecelia wishes her mother would die.  And, suddenly, she does – hit by a truck.  With this tragedy, Beth Hoffman begins a new “Life Chapter” for her young heroine in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt – a Southern flavored novel that is more Steel Magnolias than The Help.

CeeCee’s saviours are a slew of old Southern Belles, led by her wealthy great Aunt Tootie, whose life passion is saving old Southern mansions; Oletta Jones, Tootie’s wise housekeeper and cook; assorted Georgia peaches, including the eccentric Miz Goodpepper, looking for nirvana; the scandalous Violene Hobbs, who cavorts with the local policeman; and Mrs. Odell, CeeCee’s elderly Ohio neighbor.  Fulfilling her mother’s dream to return home to the South, CeeCee leaves Ohio after her mother’s death, with her traveling salesman father’s blessing, to live in luxury in Savannah with her mother’s long-lost relatives.  Hoffman redeems the formula plot with likeable characters and dialogue that will make you laugh out loud – or cry.

CeeCee’s summer is a respite not only from her tortured life as the daughter of the town fool, but also from her life as her mother’s caretaker.  She reads voraciously to escape her real life, and observes the world from a distance.  Hoffman gives her character’s voice the angst of a young girl who would like to fit in, but has no one to help her…

‘This elderberry pie has been blessed…Now, don’t you worry about that broken latch on your screen door,’ Mr. Krick said {to Ida Mae}…’I’ll stop by tomorrow morning and get it all fixed up.’

I {CeeCee} made a mental note that if I ever needed help from a man, I would make him a pie.

The summer has CeeCee adapting to her new surroundings, and coping with her mother’s death.

“All I knew for sure was this: I had been plunked into a strange, perfumed world that, as far as I could tell, seemed to be run entirely by women.”

And CeeCee has adventures and fun, for the first time in her life – helping Miz Goodpepper revenge the killed magnolia tree, swimming in the forbidden pool with Oletta, stopping the wrecking ball from destroying a mansion.  Hoffman inserts a few short asides about racial tensions in the South, and old women in a nursing home, but glosses over them quickly with humor and convenient happy endings.  This story is about how life can change for the better in a New York minute (in this case Ohio), no matter how desperate and miserable.

A friend recommended this book, and I’m glad she did.  It was an enjoyable read, best savored in the summer at the beach, eating a ripe Georgia peach, if you can.

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2 thoughts on “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

  1. I liked this one too. Such a great Southern story and Ms. Goodpepper was a riot. It was easy to fall in love with Cee Cee.

    • When Goodpepper said the line to CeeCee – “you are such a smart girl” – I could just hear Olympia Dukakis as Clairee in Steel Magnolias.

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