Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Pamela Dorman Books, 2010
Fiction; 320 pgs
I know what it is like to grow up in a home with a parent suffering from mental illness. My father suffered from undiagnosed depression for as long as I can remember. There were days my mom, brother and I had to tiptoe around him, afraid anything we said or did would set him off. We did what we could to stay on his good side as much as we could. My father died suddenly just over two years ago. While we were on good terms at the time, the scars from my childhood remained. Memories flooded back. Admittedly, it was the unpleasant ones that seemed to come in waves at first. The good memories trickled in later--but they did come. I know that through everything, my father loved me and wanted what was best for me. I know too that he was proud of me in the end.
CeeCee's story is quite different from my own in many respects, but her story touched me to the core. Not only because I could relate to what her character went through on some level, but also because of where I am in my life right now. I cannot know what it is like to lose a parent as a child, to go to live with an unknown relative, and step into an unknown life. And yet, this book spoke to me. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is one of those books that I chose to read at the right moment in my life. It's message of healing and hope was just what I needed to hear as this difficult year and the one before it come to an end.
CeeCee Honeycutt is a young girl growing up in the 1960's. An absent father, a mentally ill mother, and no friends to speak of other than an elderly neighbor, CeeCee studies hard and escapes into books. When her mother dies suddenly, CeeCee is taken in my her Great Aunt Tootie who she doesn't know, shuffled from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia. As the story unfolds, the reader and CeeCee are introduced to a huge cast of eccentric and yet strong and beautiful women. Each have their own story of loss and coming into their own.
My heart broke for CeeCee as her story came out. She lived a lifetime in her twelve years, dealing with issues that no child should have to. I liked the depth the author gave CeeCee's character in terms of dealing with her grief and anger.
I loved the author's descriptions of Savannah and the characters she's created. In a book like this, they could have been too perfect in their roles, but they all seemed so very genuine. I would be hard pressed to name a favorite character. They all spoke to me in some way. This is a feel good book in just about every way, but it does deal with the difficult issues of grief, anger, racism, and fear. Not all the strings are tied at the end--and they didn't need to be.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is full of heart. It is a book about friendship, forgiveness, and family. It is also about finding one's inner strength. I cried as I reached the end of this book. Happy tears. I felt warm and like I was wrapped in the arms of CeeCee, her aunt and their friends. I came away from this book wanting to call my mother, wishing she weren't so far away. I wonder if she's read this book. If she hasn't, well, she will. I will make sure of it.
You can learn more about Beth Hoffman and her books on the author's website.
Source: I purchased both a hardcover copy and e-copy of this book for my own reading pleasure.