Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, debut novel by first time author. Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (Penguin), January 2010

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille—the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town—a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when tragedy strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny-dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Above all, it is a book full of feminine wisdom—one to cherish, remember and share.

What can I say. I had to put the book down because my emotions got the best of me. CeeCee has been the caregiver of her mother before tragedy strikes and she goes to live with her great aunt in a new town. We see CeeCee being exposed to a different lifestyle and we watch her have the childhood she should have had. I love this story which was full of tender moments, sad moments and plenty of feel-good moments. I highly recommend reading this debut novel. You may need a box of tissues handy. My rating: 5 stars

*new-to-me author

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