Sarah's Reviews > Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
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's review
Dec 31, 2010

did not like it

It wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but it was pretty flat, and I was disappointed after all the good reviews I read about it. And I had a lot of issues with the book that stopped me from really enjoying it:

The characters were pretty flat and stereotypical. The benevolent old Southern white society lady who saves her little grand-niece. Her grumpy-but-oh-so-loveable black maid. The smart but troubled young girl. The crazy mother. I was very aware that these were characters, made up by some author. I particularly had issues with the crazy mom. The author clearly tried to give her some depth, but the character just felt so overdone. I tend to be really critical of "Mentally Ill Mother" characters because 1) they're a commonly used plot device, and they have to be really well-written to pull it off, and 2) my mother struggled with alcoholism and depression when I was growing up, so I generally either really relate to the stories or it just seems phony to me. In this story, it seemed contrived. I don't know - maybe the author really had experiences like CeeCee's, and maybe some people with mama-issues related to this story, but I sure didn't.

There wasn't really any conflict in this story. I guess the conflict was supposed to have been CeeCee coming to terms with the loss of her mother, which I found utterly un-compelling, or the issues related to Oletta and her friends killing a white man, which was neatly wrapped up in a page. But honestly, it was 300 pages of CeeCee living the charmed life in her big rich Southern house with her big rich Southern aunt. Gee, how interesting.

And then there was this little gem: "Northerners have no idea what real living means, and they don't know a damn thing about etiquette or hospitality." Oh, whatever. This book romanticizes the South to a ridiculous degree. Maybe it’s just my Minnesota pride talking, but it really grated on my nerves – and I’m not against Southern charm in novels by any means. But I don’t think moving to the South solves everyone’s problems, and the idea that being in the North caused her mother’s illness and CeeCee’s unhappiness is simplistic and ludicrous. And it alienated me, as a reader, and made me get all defensive.

The writing was all right, but it was very deliberate - nothing about this book seemed effortless to me, it all seemed planned and made up. I think in a really good book, it almost seems that the author is channeling the story and the characters instead of making them up - that was not the case with Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.

For better, Southern folksy charm books with real substance I would recommend Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, The Secret Life of Bees, The Help, To Kill a Mockingbird, Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood, or Where The Heart Is. This book wasn't an utter waste of time, it was a simple and pretty quick read, but there are plenty of similar, better books out there.
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03/08 marked as: read

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim Pimental As a Southerner myself, I agree with your comment that the author romanticized the South to a ridiculous degree. Even I was choking on my cornbread.

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