I’ve finished the twelfth book for the book challenge. I read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt byBeth Hoffman.
CeeCee Honeycutt is a twelve-year-old girl who lives in Willoughby, Ohio. She is the caretaker of his mentally ill mother, a schizophrenic woman, who is also bipolar. Her mother dresses in her old pageant dresses and her sash that she won as Miss Vidalia Onion Queen in Georgia in 1951 and wears her tiara and red high heel shoes and parades around the neighborhood, waving to the neighbors and blowing kisses. She regularly blows up and fights with CeeCee’s father when he’s home (he’s a traveling salesman and just doesn’t want to deal with his wife) and breaks the crockery. Her greatest delight is to go down to the Goodwill Store and buy prom dresses to dress in. She loves to wear her pearls. CeeCee’s job is to keep her mother calm and inside as much as possible. It’s a hard life for CeeCee and she has few friends. She has her books where she can escape this crazy life and she can also go to her neighbor Mrs. O’Dell who listens and helps her maintain some semblance of normalcy.
One day the unthinkable happens. CeeCee’s mother is running across the street on her way to the Goodwill Store and is hit by a truck and killed by a truck. As much as CeeCee has been embarrassed by her mother, she is shocked by her mother’s death. Her father, realizing he can’t care for CeeCee, makes arrangements for her to go to live with her mother’s aunt Tallulah in Georgia. CeeCee is apprehensive since she knows nothing about this woman. She sees her father as once again abdicating his responsibilities, just as when he refused to get her mother help for her illness.
When Aunt Tootie, as she is called, arrives to pick up CeeCee to take her to Savannah, Georgia, CeeCee notices that she is kind and understanding and puts no pressure on her. She lets CeeCee adjust to things at her own pace. CeeCee meets Oletta, Aunt Tootie’s housekeeper and cook. CeeCee and Oletta seem to get along fine ans CeeCee begins to settle into her new hom in Savannah with this two caring women. She also meets a number of other kind, caring women in Aunt Tootie’s circle of friends–Miz Culpepper, Oletta’s friends Nadine and Chessie, her aunt Sapphire. She learns that these women truly care about her and want the best for her, that she is loved and cared for. Even her father, for whom she has nothing but loathing, brings her the books from her room. Aunt Tootie tells her that it is his way of showing that he does love her in his own way.
All these women help save CeeCee Honeycutt. They let her know that she is loved and that there are do-overs in life. She realizes that, in her own way, her mother loved her, even through her illness. And these amazing women love her too. And now she has a friend at a new school where she doesn’t have to be afraid or ashamed of who she is. CeeCee Honeycutt has indeed been saved.
This was a lovely coming of age book set in the 1960s in Savannah when there were still garden parties in the South and women were involved in saving historic buildings in the cities. Women were strong influences in their communities and were a positive role model for a young girl like CeeCee. I really enjoyed this book. It was a feel-good book, not without its ugly side of prejudice and racism, however. It was realistic. It would be a good book for young people, too. I highly recommend it.