Anita Laydon's Reviews > Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
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Jul 08, 2012

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bookshelves: women-s-fiction

A review I wrote for my Colorado Springs GAZETTE book column:

Beth Hoffman’s “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” is a southern story that starts in Ohio, of all places. It’s the late 1960s and 12-year-old CeeCee lives in a small town with her psychotic mother, Camille. CeeCee’s father is a traveling businessman, who prefers life on the road to days at home with his wife. That leaves poor CeeCee alone to witness Camille’s continued fall from reality.

In front of the poor girl’s eyes, Camille becomes more erratic. She makes regular trips to the Goodwill store to buy old prom dresses. She wears them around town, along with her 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen sash and tiara. This shames CeeCee, as do her mother’s other bizarre actions. Camille tries to walk in the town parade, for example, and falls over to reveal a bare bottom to the crowd.

Camille’s behavior hampers CeeCee’s social life. While the girl performs well at school, she makes no friends there, because everyone knows CeeCee is the daughter of the local crazy woman. It’s no wonder the girl wishes her mom would just die.

And then one day, early in the book, Camille is struck by an ice cream truck. She’s knocked clean out of her red satin shoes and dies. CeeCee’s guilt is as bright as her mother’s shoes—she is certain her wishes contributed to Camille’s death.

Up to this point in CeeCee’s life, her only refuge has been in the home of an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Odell. And now the girl must give up that place of love and security to live with a woman she didn’t even know existed; CeeCee’s father has arranged for her to live with her mother’s aunt, Tootie Caldwell, in Savannah, Georgia.

On that note, CeeCee begins a much happier chapter in her young life. She is introduced to a colorful cast of southern women who comfort and befriend her. From her Great-Aunt Tootie (a wealthy socialite who drives a vintage Packard convertible) to Tootie’s housekeeper Oletta (a wise woman who loves her metal detector and talking to Jesus) to two feuding neighbors (they throw literal and figurative slugs at each other), CeeCee’s new world is entertaining and enlightening.

CeeCee’s southern adventures help her sort through her guilt and work toward forgiving her mother, father and herself. “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” is available through the Pikes Peak Library District.

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