Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fiction Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

My mom read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman on our recent Thanksgiving vacation and handed it to me as soon as she finished it!  I enjoyed this coming-of-age tale very much.

First, let me admit that I'm not a big fan of so-called Southern fiction.  Certainly, I loved some of the exemplary books that started this genre (I don't really think it should be its own genre) like The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and all of Rebecca Wells' novels, but there have been a lot of shallow copycats getting by with their southern setting and the requisite cast of colorful women characters.

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt has those elements, but it also has a surprising emotional depth.  Yes, it has the wise, kind black servant woman who takes the damaged child under her wing amid homestyle southern cooking, but this novel also deals with some very serious issues, including racial discrimination and mental illness, with intelligence and grace.

The story begins in the north, with CeeCee, a young girl in Ohio, who has spent most of her life taking care of her mentally ill mother, while her father stays busy (and stays away) traveling for work.  When tragedy hits, CeeCee is taken in by her great-aunt Tootie (I had a great-aunt Tootie, too!) whom she hasn't seen since she was an infant.  Tootie whisks her away to her beautiful home in Savannah, where the healing process begins.

I found the novel compelling, its characters interesting, and its plot unique.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  My only complaint - and it's a minor one - would be the lack of any decent male characters at all.  Every single man in the novel (with one exception who was dead) was either a liar, a cheater, a jerk, or all three.  While I'm all for girl power and understand that the main theme was the healing power of women, I felt the lack of any good male characters at all felt a bit artificial.  As I said, it's a minor complaint, as the novel overall was very satisfying, even to a northern girl like myself.  And if you generally like Southern fiction, then you'll love this novel even more.

306 pages, Penguin Books


  1. Sue I dont like Southern fiction either but this one.... I loved. :)

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning the book and felt that the storyline had great potential. And I absolutely love the archetypal wise, old black woman character in fiction, but I felt that some of the subplots were outrageously overblown and that fact really took away from what could have been a very powerful story. And you have a good point about the lack of positive male figures and about Southern fiction in general. Overall, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt felt like a poor imitation of Secret Life of Bees.