Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman
CeeCee Honeycutt's mentally ill mom still lives in her memories of being the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. She loves to collect prom dresses and wear them around town, embarassing her 12-year-old daughter. CeeCee's father is absent and detached. When tragedy strikes, she goes to live with her Great-Aunt Tootie in Savannah, Georgia.
CeeCee is embraced by Tootie and all of her friends--her cook Oletta, neighbor Thelma Rae Goodpepper, and the ladies of the Savannah Garden Club. She discovers the meaning of southern hospitality and finds the family and nurturing she never had.
I enjoyed this light, heartwarming novel, although in some cases the plot lacked follow-through, and in others, the conflict resolved all too easily. For those reasons, it definitely seemed like a first novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the friendship between CeeCee and Oletta and the color-blind relationships among all of the women, but I couldn't help but wonder how realistic it was at the time (1960s in the south). In particular, I found it strange to imagine the final garden party, where Oletta and her friends were part of the party with all the other women...and only one of them (the obnoxious neighbor) made a scene about it. So the book seemed a bit idealistic in some ways. However, it was a nice, light read with a compelling story.