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"Steel Magnolias" meets "The Help" in this Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart, and feminine wisdom. Laugh-out-loud funny, Hoffman's charming work offers the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.
- ISBN-13: 9780670021390
- ISBN-10: 0670021393
- Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
- Publish Date: January 2010
- Page Count: 306
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.)
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.