When the book opens, CeeCee (born Cecilia) Honeycutt is 7 years old, and when the book ends, she is 12. A whole bunch happens in that 5-year period. She starts out in Willoughby, Ohio. Her mother is an ex-beauty pageant winner from the South, and her father is a traveling salesman (at least I think that's what he is). In the next couple of years, CeeCee basically has to take care of her mother while her father is constantly on the road (as the story progresses, we learn why he's always on the road). Her mother has clearly become mentally ill, and it falls on CeeCee to watch over her. Of course, this leaves her with no social life and no friends. Her entire world is going to school, caretaking her mother, and visiting her elderly next-door neighbor.
Then, tragedy hits, and CeeCee finds herself being shipped off to Savannah, Georgia to live with her great-aunt Tootie. And the fun begins. The rest of the story takes place in a 3-month period, from the beginning of the summer to the 1st day of school. And, oh what a summer it is.
I was simply blown away by the characterizations. Every character in this story resonates. I always expect(/hope) to care about the main characters. But in this book, I really cared about everybody. There are 4 main protagonists that I deeply cared about and probably another 4 or 5 that added greatly to the story. I will tell you this - I have never cried as much as I did in this book. Yes, I know I'm a crybaby, but this was a lot even for me. It seemed like it was every page. I'm going to chalk that up to Beth's writing and not losing my grip on reality. This is just excellent writing. Here are some examples:
When one neighbor comes out of her house in a see-through robe, the other neighbor says: "Isn't she ridiculous? She looks like the centerfold in a poultry catalog." That is funny.
"Oletta opened her arms, I opened mine, and we met each other like two puzzle pieces sliding into place." That's a great visual.
The same neighbor who had the 1st quote talks about the comparison between men and high-heeled shoes: "I love how pretty they make me feel, but by the end of the night I can't wait to get rid of them." I don't know if men have ever been described in that way.
The young protagonist is talking about a punchbowl of Long Island iced tea: "The women flocked to that punch bowl like a 50 percent-off table at a department store." How clear is that picture?
And then there's the melee between 2 neighbors at a very fancy, staid garden party with 40 high society women. I cracked up. Very funny stuff.
There's just a lot of positive things to say about Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. It's excellent from start to finish. There is no drop-off at any point in the book. It's a clear 4 out of 4 and MAYBE my 13th 4.5 (take a look at my 3/21 post). I'll have to think about that.