Friday, February 19, 2010

#BookReview: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman

I was ready to love this book. Nonchalant Librarian, who NEVER talks to me, went Chatty Cathy on me when he saw me picking it up. "It's like The Help meets The Secret Life of Bees," he said. "You're going to love it," he said. I left the library giddy, not because Nonchalant Librarian looks like Idris Elba with a Denzel walk. Oh heck no! Nonchalant Librarian looks more like the Michelin Man, but he spoke! In the year that I've visited his branch biweekly, he has never said a word to me.

Well I loved The Help and though several people I know think The Secret Life of Bees was the greatest thing written since sliced bread, I thought it was just "meh." But Nonchalant Librarian promised me greatness and I dug my heels in and waited for it with baited breath. I'm glad I didn't hold my breath because I didn't get the greatness of The Help. I got the "mehness" of The Secret Life of Bees.

If you're still reading this, I guess you want to know about the book, so here goes. 12 year old Cecelia Honeycutt lives in Ohio with her mentally ill, former beauty queen mother while her father travels the country as a salesman. CeeCee suspects that he travels to escape the madness at home, leaving her to deal with a mother who crashes parades and buys prom dresses at the local Goodwill for daily wear.

When her mother is killed on the way to her weekly shopping trip at the Goodwill, CeeCee's father decides to send her to her great aunt Tootie in Savannah, Georgia. Moving to Savannah means CeeCee will leave behind her only friend, the elderly woman that lives across the street. Understanding that moving will give her a new beginning where no one knows about her mother, CeeCee agrees to relocate.

Upon arriving at Aunt Tootie's, CeeCee is introduced to her aunt's cook, Oletta *cue the music* the magical Negro. Publisher's Weekly describes Oletta as "a sage black woman." Yes, while Aunt Tootie takes in CeeCee, it's really Oletta who gets her to open up and takes on the task of raising her. Oletta's own daughter died at the age of 13, but it's glossed over, as are almost all aspects of her life outside of the Honeycutt/Caldwell household.

After the introduction of Oletta, the book was all down hill for me, with the exception of CeeCee seeking revenge against their next door neighbor. I wasn't a fan of this or The Secret Life of Bees, but if you read the latter and enjoyed it, then you'll enjoy Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. In the meantime, I'm going to stop back by the library to give Nonchalant Librarian a piece of my not-so-magical Negro mind.

What did you like about this book?
The cover art is beautiful.

What did you dislike about this book?

What could the author do differently?
I would have liked to see more character development for everyone with the exception of CeeCee. While I realize that she was the main character, I might have had a better appreciation for the overall story if everyone else weren't so one-dimensional.

320 pp
Published January 2010

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