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When the book opens, Cee Cee is a child in charge of her mentally ill mom while her father travels. Even when he is home, his visits are brief and unsympathetic. Cee Cee’s mom, aptly named Camille, is a Southern belle and former beauty queen who has slipped away from the bonds of reality. She never, though, forgets that she loves Cee Cee very much. What she does is dress up in formals purchased from Goodwill and parade around town in her tiara, believing that she is still the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen queen and the contest and parades are ongoing. Life for Cee Cee is difficult. Classmates shun or tease her, which drives her to excel scholastically and escape into books.
Cee Cee’s one respite is her neighbor, Mrs. Odell, who prepares weekend breakfast for Cee Cee and also buys her books. Lots of books. But tragedy strikes at the end of the school year when Cee Cee is twelve, and she’s sent to live with her mother’s great aunt, Tootie Caldwell. Cee Cee hates her father even more for sending her away and can’t imagine living anywhere but Ohio. The city of Savanah soon weaves its spell on her, and so do Aunt Tootie and the other amazing women who save Cee Cee from her former life. Watching Cee Cee blossom from an adult before her time to become the girl she was meant to be is a wonderful journey. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished.
Almost impossible to believe, SAVING CEE CEE HONEYCUTT is Beth Hoffman’s first professional novel. Before writing it, she was co-owner of an interior design studio. After a bout with the same virus and toxic shock that killed puppeteer Jim Henson, Beth Hoffman eventually decided to sell her business and devote her time to writing. She lives in Newport, Kentucky with her husband and three cats. You can learn more about this fascinating author at http://www.bethhoffman.net/