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.

Read an interview with Beth Hoffman.

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