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Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman; Review

March 16, 2010

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Author: Beth Hoffman

Published: January 12th, 2010 by Penguin Group (USA)

Number of Pages: 320

Rating: 3/5

Review Sent to Penguin Group*:

Coming Soon. (I’ll edit this post and stick it in later.)

Review:

Confession: I spent last evening writing a paper for a book report I’m doing on Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and, as my blog has been in sore need of a new post, I thought I’d kill two slugs with one stone (notice I didn’t say “birds” because birds are darling and amazing while slugs are disgusting little turds). I’m simply going to post the book report here. It’s a bit longer than a normal review, but I really haven’t had time to review anything else.

SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT BY BETH HOFFMAN

Book Report

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman is simply a spin on the Southern, coming-of-age plotline – a spin I wasn’t particularly fond of. I prefer the spins that leave you dizzy yet irrationally anxious for more. All books are retellings of one or more basic storylines thought up the moment human beings were placed on this earth and granted the gift of an imagination. This particular retelling begins with CeeCee Honeycutt, a girl whose mother has been dropping marbles (or pearls – her mom would have thought them more classy) on her way to Goodwill for years. After her mother’s tragic and ironic death, CeeCee is shipped off to Savannah, Georgia to live with her Great Aunt Tootie. Once there, her world of simple pleasures and more dramatic displeasures is flung this way and that by the rich, warm, and yummy atmosphere of Georgia in the 1960’s.

A focal point of the novel is CeeCee’s ever-present worry that she will become more like her mother as she grows older – not in looks or tone, but in mental health. Often little things would entice her to think that her sanity was diminishing, that her mind would soon reach its demise and turn inside out. It’s quite evident that the author’s goal was to relate the message that children are not black and white, identical versions of their parents. They’re not clones or robots. Children are people with free agency and that grants them the ability to stretch their limbs in any direction they’d like, to become anything they’d like. CeeCee struggles to believe this truth. Our independent natures and personalities are what make us us, and those aren’t hereditary traits handed down from one generation to the next.

CeeCee lives in a town where everyone knows she’s the crazy lady’s daughter. That’s what she grows up knowing. That’s what she knows people are thinking at the supermarket. That’s her – to nearly everyone else, at least. CeeCee’s mother, Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, is far down the road to a padded cell. She’s absolutely certain that she’s still a young lady, the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen, and must dress accordingly. Daily, she struts down to the local Goodwill in a prom dress and red stilettos to buy more of the same. CeeCee deals with her mom on her own, occasionally finding solace at her neighbor Ms. Odell’s house. Her father travels for business incessantly, although CeeCee has a hunch that he’s not too lonely on these trips. One sunny Ohio morning, Camille Honeycutt is run over by the Happy Cow Ice Cream truck on her trip to Goodwill. She dies happily in a prom dress and heels. She dies thinking she’s the Onion Queen. Shortly after the tragedy, Aunt Tootie convinces CeeCee’s father to send her to Georgia. It’s then that CeeCee’s life really begins. We follow CeeCee’s story as she acclimates to the change and becomes a true Georgian, just as her mother was. But different.

The setting (1960’s Georgia) was my favorite part of the book. You can’t overlook the feeling that Rhett Butler’s name might appear on the next page. You can’t get the idea that Scarlet is drinking whiskey right around the corner from CeeCee out of your head. Quite honestly, Georgia is nearly my favorite book setting of all time. The sticky sweetness of the air (in your imagination), the colossal size of the bugs (in your imagination), the cotton plantations that you imagine once stood wherever you may be (in your imagination), all create such a picturesque literary scene that you can’t possibly help but fall in love with the atmosphere. I appreciated Beth Hoffman’s evident love for her setting as well, which brought a descriptive integrity to the novel. The shock which CeeCee feels as she discovers the secrets and decodes the whispering of the southern winds emanates through the reader’s body. The change from Ohio (another favorite setting) to Georgia is astronomical. The setting was fantastically described. As I reader, I felt that I was there, trying to keep from sweating my eyebrows off.

I felt that Beth Hoffman applied favoritism to her characters; certain ones where very deep and interesting, while others seemed slightly underdeveloped. Oletta, for example, embodied a past, present and future. She seemed real because she had a history, as well as a future that I, as a reader, enjoyed predicting. Characters of her sort are the ones you delve into, body and soul, and come out of with a deep understanding of an actual person, which is one thing that makes reading remarkable. Other characters had promise, but were minor and not spoken of much, and others simply weren’t interesting enough to divert your attention from the plot or from the more fascinating characters. CeeCee was nearly one of these. I did not see much special about her. Her voice seemed like it was coming through a paper she had written, not her thoughts, and the two are so drastically different that it’s noticeable. One of the characters I wished I knew more about (yet it was the fact that not every facet of his personality was described that made him so interesting) was CeeCee’s father, who didn’t seem like much of a great guy, but whose actions were just as contradictory, his motives just as foggily hidden from others’ eyes, as real people’s are, and that made him a character that I’d read an entire book about. Aunt Tootie was sweet and clearly accustomed to living comfortably – as in not troubled by much. You became fond of her, but she was not someone outstanding. Miz Goodpepper I loved for her quirkiness and strong, odd beliefs. Oletta was one of my favorite characters because I enjoy reading about sassy, strong, warm-hearted women like her. They seem to symbolize what women should be – loving and proud of what they are.

Ultimately, I enjoyed aspects of the book, but not the book. The ending was far too ideal for everyone’s circumstances. I mentally stamped “And they all lived happily ever after” onto the final page, a warning that this book lacked one of my favorite things – the bittersweet quality. It seemed as though the tragic happenings all occurred at the beginning of the book for the sole purpose of allowing happier things to happen throughout. I’m eager to read more by Beth and really do believe she will publish something I’m bound to love. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is the perfect book for someone who needs to be emotionally uplifted a bit – not plowed down by dreariness – and a great book for someone who can’t get over the mystique of Georgia. I, personally, found that I did not enjoy reading many of the key factors of the book, which ate up the majority of it, and that fact has kept me from singing its praises from the rooftops.

Of course, if you want sugary sweet, read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.

~~~~~~

Alright, that was easy!

I really do hope to post a review for The Lotus Eaters this week. I fear that March just may be a bad blogging month. This Wordbird’s got her hands full!

Speaking of this month: Next week is my Spring Break, and I intend to put my spare time to good use. My goal over Spring Break is to write 30,000 words, which would ideally be 5,000 words everyday for six days. Not only has this week been poor for blogging, but for writing as well, and I desperately want to make substantial progress.

Happy Tuesday!

(Oh, and did I mention that I’m heading out to pick up River Secrets by Shannon Hale from the library and buy Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith from Borders? Yahoo!)

*Thanks for the ARC!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 19, 2010 2:03 PM

    Thanks for this very honest review!

  2. March 19, 2010 8:51 AM

    Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is an Okra Pick — check out the rest: http://www.authorsroundthesouth.com/okra

  3. March 16, 2010 9:56 PM

    Hi Madeleine, great book report! I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book. I need to get it soon after my BBB (book-buying ban) is lifted in July. 🙂

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