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Read Beth Hoffman's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community.

"Steel Magnolias" meets "The Help" in this Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart, and feminine wisdom

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. 


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Read Beth Hoffman's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community.

"Steel Magnolias" meets "The Help" in this Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart, and feminine wisdom

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 Camille is hit by a truck and killed, 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 bathes 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 is, as Kristin Hannah says, "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart." It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.

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  • ISBN-13: 9780670021390
  • ISBN-10: 0670021393
  • Publish Date: January 2010

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 34.
  • Review Date: 2009-09-21
  • Reviewer: Staff

Hoffman's debut, a by-the-numbers Southern charmer, recounts 12-year-old Cecelia Rose Honeycutt's recovery from a childhood with her crazy mother, Camille, and cantankerous father, Carl, in 1960s Willoughby, Ohio. After former Southern beauty queen Camille is struck and killed by an ice cream truck, Carl hands over Cecelia to her great-aunt Tootie. Whisked off to a life of privilege in Savannah, Ga., Cecelia makes fast friends with Tootie's cook, Oletta, and gets to know the cadre of eccentric women who flit in and out of Tootie's house, among them racist town gossip Violene Hobbs and worldly, duplicitous Thelma Rae Goodpepper. Aunt Tootie herself is the epitome of goodness, and Oletta is a sage black woman. Unfortunately, any hint of trouble is nipped in the bud before it can provide narrative tension, and Hoffman toys with, but doesn't develop, the idea that Cecelia could inherit her mother's mental problems. Madness, neglect, racism and snobbery slink in the background, but Hoffman remains locked on the sugary promise of a new day. (Jan.)

BookPage Reviews

Salvation in Savannah

At the beginning of Beth Hoffman’s charming debut novel, young CeeCee Honeycutt has serious problems. Virtually abandoned by her salesman father, the young girl is left with her mentally ill mother, who lives mostly in her beauty pageant-winning past. Scorned by her classmates, who know about her awkward family situation, CeeCee finds solace in books and a kindly elderly neighbor, until her mother’s death changes everything. Luckily, that’s when her whirlwind of a great-aunt swoops in. Eccentric, warm-hearted Tootie totes CeeCee to Savannah, Georgia, in her sleek automobile, and she is just the first of many remarkable women CeeCee will meet in her new hometown. Together they give the 12-year-old a taste of stability for the first time in her life, helping her to understand, and eventually forgive, her mother, her father and herself. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a gem of a story, lovingly told. The 1960s Southern setting and coming-of-age angle may remind readers of favorites like The Secret Life of Bees—not surprising, since it was bought by the same editor—but the episodic narrative style and bookish heroine will also bring to mind classics like Anne of Green Gables. In fact, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt could easily be a crossover hit with teens. Readers who savor books with memorable characters and Southern settings will consider this a novel to treasure.  RELATED CONTENT:Read an interview with Beth Hoffman.

BAM Customer Reviews