Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
It’s how we survive the hurts in life that brings us strength and gives us our beauty.
That captures Saving CeeCee Honeycutt in a nutshell. CeeCee is a twelve year old girl who has been forced to deal with her mother’s mental illness for much of her childhood. Her parents are still married, barely, but her father travels extensively to escape the demons that inhabit his wife, leaving CeeCee to fend for herself. It all changes one day when Camellia, CeeCee’s mother, goes to the Goodwill for more old prom dresses and is hit and killed by an icecream truck. Unsure of how to care for CeeCee, her father sends her to live with her great aunt Tootie in Savannah, Georgia.
CeeCee is weary of life and unsure of how to behave as a normal child. She is quickly embraced by Tootie, the maid Oletta, and her old friend Mrs Odell. Quickly, CeeCee is able to rise above the heartbreak of her mother’s illness and her father’s betrayal, and she is able to form a new familythat is more than she could have imagined.
So let me get the bad stuff out of the way quickly. My only issue with Saving CeeCee Honeycutt was that is felt contrived at times. It was just a tad too sugary sweet for me. I think it was on the right track with the crazy mom and the icecream truck, but as the book wore on, it was engulfed by a little too much “southern charm”.
While listening to the laughter swirl around me, the strangest thing happened: my whole world turned pink, and an effervescent kind of warmth filled me with a sense of belonging I’d never known.
See what I mean? Or maybe it’s just me–I prefer something either a little more tongue in cheek or a little grittier. Get too sappy sweet on me and I’m liable to get annoyed.
That being said, this book had a lot going for it. The voice of Oletta was so genuine and entertaining that on that premise alone I enjoyed the book. Oletta’s relationship with CeeCee reminded me a lot of The Help and I thought the relationship between the two of them was very believable.
I also loved the symbolism of the hummingbird. I was enamored with the cover of this book as soon as I had the book in my hands. It’s not as apparent in pictures how adorable the cover is. The whole idea of the hummingbird and CeeCee escaping her past doesn’t become obvious until the end, and I thought it brought about a nice message.
The idea of a twelve year old protaganist was fun. It’s always exciting to see a situation from a child’s eyes, and I think Hoffman did a superb job in portraying an adolescent girl. CeeCee’s personality was extremely realistic–her hopes and fears were right on par with what they should have been. Oftentimes adult authors bite off more than they can chew with young narrators/characters, so I was glad that it was pulled off so well.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a great choice if you’re looking for an uplifting, sweet read. Although it’s January right now, it would be a great pool/beach read, so for those of you taking a vacation sometime soon (spring break anyone?), this would definitely be a contender.