One of the things that drew me to the Booklikes-opoly game was the opportunity to expand some of my reading horizons, especially with all the thousands of books I have.
Some of the books have been monstrous disappointments. Others have been so-so. And a few have been truly wonderful.
Saving Ceecee Honeycutt falls in the so-so category.
I bumped it up from the two-star rating I had originally intended only because the author redeemed some of the earlier issues I had with the book, but in some ways I was tempted to knock it down a star rather than up.
Ceecee is twelve years old. Her mother is seriously mentally ill, her much older father is absent for long stretches of time. After years of being the caregiver for her mother, Ceecee is without friends, without family, without childhood. When her mother dies, Ceecee is bundled off to live with her great-aunt Tootie in Savannah, Georgia, which is a whole different world from Willoughby, Ohio.
The reader presumes the story is being told after-the-fact and that Ceecee is now an adult looking back on her childhood. It isn't until maybe two-thirds of the way through the book that the child Ceecee -- her real name is Cecelia Rose -- breaks down emotionally to confront all her traumas. And it's a pretty serious breakdown.
This is a better story than the silliness of the two Sarah Addison Allen books I read earlier this summer, but I came away with a similar sense of unreality. Maybe current 2017 events are affecting my reading experience of a book that's set in the 1967 Deep South.
The Savannah, Georgia, of this book is spiritually unchanged from the Atlanta of Gone with the Wind. All the white ladies are sweet and polite -- and rich -- and the black help are uncomplaining and grateful. And Ceecee is innocently unaware of everything. Even when one of the white ladies is revealed to be a racist, she's such an over-the-top caricature that she's unbelievable, laughable, not taken seriously.
No sense of time or place infuses this book, and all the little problems are neatly and easily solved. There's no tension or drama; there's more nail-biting in one of the Nancy Drew mysteries Ceecee loves. It's also not a novel that invokes any feminist principles, despite the almost all-female cast.
Sadly, several small stories within this are left hanging. Was the hatpin just junk jewelry, or was the red stone a ruby or even a garnet? What happened to the diamond necklace? What happened to the jewelry store?
Another aspect of the book that bothered me was that it's a story of a twelve-year-old girl but written obviously for adult readers. Had there been some reflections from the adult Ceecee or some epilogue that showed how all this affected her as she grew up, I might have found it more to my liking. But at my age, I'm not all that interested in reading about twelve-year-olds whose lives go miraculously from rags to riches without any deeper development.