Southern Charmer

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, B+

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a slightly unusual reading choice for me. It is a best-selling book that does not fall into the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery, and it is set in the American South. I don’t remember exactly why I picked it up at the used-book sale. The blurb on the back of the book mentions “Southern eccentricity” and “strong, wacky women,” and that’s probably what did it. I like eccentricity and wackiness.

Here’s what happens in the story: it is the 1960s and 12-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt lives in Ohio with her mother. Her mother is mentally ill and terribly unfit as a parent. CeeCee suffers a lot of neglect and embarrassment. When her mother dies in a tragic accident, CeeCee is invited to live in Savannah with her great-aunt Tootie. CeeCee’s father, who has been largely absent from her life, lets her go. In Georgia CeeCee learns what it is like to be part of a loving family. This family is composed of Aunt Tootie, Tootie’s kind and wise African American cook, an eccentric next-door neighbor, and various other acquaintances, some black, some white, but all women. Though the occasional unpleasantness rears its ugly head, it doesn’t last long, and life is finally good for CeeCee. The end.

While this novel touches on some serious topics, including a possibly heritable form of insanity, it deals with and dismisses them as quickly and painlessly as possible. The author “saves” CeeCee by giving her the best possible life. It is consequently a happy read, but not a realistic one.

Sometimes I don’t want realism, though, and I enjoyed it in spite of its flaws. I recommend Saving CeeCee Honeycutt if you’re in the mood for some Southern-themed, female-centric, feel-good fluff.

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