Dear future novelist,
If you were not raised below the Mason-Dixon, please do not try to write about the South in your first attempt. All Southerners appreciate your love of our culture and our people, and your desire to express that adoration by embracing it in your craft.
However, there are subtleties and nuances about the South that you probably don’t get, no matter how many of us you love and admire, and so being able to translate these elusive concepts to paper takes the skill of a well seasoned professional. Most likely your attempt will come out at best cliche, or likely, condescending.
We invite you to our tables, our homes and our history, and should you choose to stay, you are welcome. Just make sure you’ve been here a good long time before you think you know us well enough to describe us. Or, you might end up offending your host.
Most graciously in your best interest,
And so, my opinion of Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycut hasn’t changed much since my last post. The sad part is, I think she’s got a good idea here. I’m not sure if she tried to do too much or if she just didn’t have good assistance or both, but this book fell flat.
My book club choose to read this (ironically on my introduction) because we wanted something light. We’ve recently read about mental hospitals
and witch trials
and were feeling the need to leave the dark for a while. This one seemed to be good for a laugh.
And there were parts that made me smile or even chuckle. But over and over again, and aside from the Southern setting shortcomings, I kept being bothered by what was lacking. There were at least three plot turns that were really good ideas, but they were unfinished. I felt like Hoffman never got into the crux of the situation enough to resolve it and make it fundamental to the fabric of the story. Each incident could be plucked out individually and the story – as it now stands – would still be intact.
And like having cold water splashed in your face, CeeCee often said or thought things that were just out of character. She’s a precocious young girl with an interesting past, but too often Hoffman wasn’t true to her own creation.
As also mentioned in the first post, there were a handful of pearls, but the effort spent wading through the muck to find them just wasn’t worth it.
In re-reading my post, I realized that I didn’t tell you what the book is about. CeeCee Honeycut is a young girl – 10-12ish – who’s mother suffers from mental illness. Her father takes a traveling sales job specifically so that he doesn’t have to be home much. Her mother is killed one day walking to Goodwill, her favorite shopping spot. (Because it is the only place she can buy 20-year old prom dresses to conjure her days as a beauty queen.)
After her mother’s death, her great aunt, whom CeeCee has no prior knowledge of, brings CeeCee to live with her in her antebellum Savannah home where CeeCee forges a strong friendship with Aunt Tootie’s black help, Oletta.