When 12-year-old Cecelia Rose Honeycutt arrives at her great-aunt’s house, she is a hurt, lost, and secretly grieving girl due to her mother’s psychosis and her father’s neglect. But in the magical world of Savannah, Georgia, CeeCee encounters an endless array of interesting and beloved people, including Aunt Tootie, her driven, independent, yet big-hearted great-aunt, to Oletta, Aunt Tootie’s longtime cook and companion. Savannah just might be the place where CeeCee can learn how to heal through love and be her age again.
All too often for me, adult fiction can be stagnant, apathetic, and distant. Even a young protagonist can actually be his/her future self, recalling a time long ago. However, SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT is adorable and uplifting as CeeCee’s narration transcends generations.
The best part about this book is CeeCee’s voice. It’s strong, age-appropriate but not too young for most readers to connect with. CeeCee does not constantly try to judge her own actions or interpret events in her past: instead, the novel unfolds as if we’re living in the moment with CeeCee herself. At times childishly cute and funny, at others sweet in her experienced-beyond-her-years-ness, CeeCee was a delight to get to know from the very first page.
The other characters are also wonderful and thoroughly developed. They’re not as easily distinguishable from one another as the characters from Kathryn Stockett’s THE HELP, to which this book is often compared, but I definitely found myself wishing I had my very own Aunt Tootie and Oletta growing up.
My one major beef with this book was its apparent lack of tension and conflict. Compared to THE HELP, this book had very little going on. The driving conflict seemed to be CeeCee’s struggle to come to terms with her mother’s mental illness, but the storyline bounced back and forth between this and other potentially fiery issues so erratically that none of the conflicts in this book ended up feeling entirely convincing for me. SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT presented us with incidents and characters that never entirely lived up to their potential: a racist encounter that was prettily resolved, a crazy neighbor with a penchant for vengeance. I kept on waiting for something to happen, and being thwarted in my waiting.
Overall, however, I’m still very glad I had the chance to read SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT. Its subject matter, time and location setting, and genre all made it something I wouldn’t normally have read, but I would have missed out on CeeCee’s wonderful voice otherwise. SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT is, in a sense, a love letter for the South: join the endearing CeeCee on her journey of healing and self-discovery in a heartwarming world!
Kathryn Stockett (The Help)
Jill S. Alexander (The Sweetheart of Prosper County)
Jacqueline Kelly (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate)
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - S'not bad. Not something that I would pick up in a store, but not bad. It has slight relevance to a certain part of the story.
Pamela Dorman Books / Jan. 12, 2010 / Hardcover / 320pp. / $25.95
Review copy received from publisher for blog tour.
If you're interested, please check out the other blog tour stops below for more reviews!
5/17 & 5/18 – Devourer of Books
5/19 & 5/20 – Diary of an Eccentric
5/21 – Savvy Verse & Wit
5/22 – Medieval Bookworm
5/23 – lit*chick
5/24 – A Novel Menagerie
5/25 – The Tome Traveller’s Weblog
5/26 – Peeking Between the Pages
5/27 – Steph Su Reads
5/28 – Galleysmith
Thanks to Inkwell Management and Penguin, I have THREE (3) copies of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt to give away! To enter, please fill out the form below, making sure to answer the question. This giveaway is open to US & Canada only and ends on Thursday, June 17, 2010. Good luck!