Wednesday, October 8, 2014


This book is for readers who need a break from sad stories.  It’s a marshmallow of a novel, and, unfortunately, I’m not a big marshmallow eater.  All the tragedy happens at the beginning, and, except for one or two ugly incidents, everything just keeps getting better and better for CeeCee Honeycutt.  Raised by a mother who is severely mentally ill, 12-year-old CeeCee’s life has been no picnic.  Everyone at school makes fun of her because of her mother, who still thinks she’s a 1951 beauty queen.  (It’s the 1960s, but didn’t we have Social Services back then?)  Whisked from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia, after her mother’s bizarre demise, CeeCee embarks on a new life as a Southern Belle.  Fortunately, CeeCee’s move takes place at the beginning of the summer, so that she can get to know her very wealthy guardian, Aunt Tootie, and Tootie’s beloved black housekeeper Oletta.  I’m not opposed to an upbeat novel now and then, but there’s just not enough conflict here, unless you consider a cat fight between two women at a garden party conflict.   The writing is not up to snuff, either, particularly in comparison to the last book I read—Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.  I get that the narrator is a 12-year-old, but I’ve found a couple of 5-year-old narrators (Room and The Bear) to be spellbinding.  This book’s problem, though, is with the plot more so than the writing.  The People magazine reviewer, Liza Hamm, gave this book a very positive review, but she also says, “Not a whole lot happens….”  I expect a book without much plot to have compelling characters, but Aunt Tootie, Oletta, and Mrs. Odell are all just too sugary sweet for words.  If you’re looking for a cream puff to offset some novels that left a bad taste in your mouth, then this might be just the ticket, but I need something salty or spicy after this.

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