I just finished a wonderful book called Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. It’s the story of twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt. “For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille–the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town–a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when tragedy strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself…until, out of nowhere, comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.
In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny-dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapon, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.”
These women will keep you entertained and enthralled too. At times this book will have you laughing out loud, and at other times you’ll catch yourself wiping away tears. It’s a perfect book to pick up for a light summer read, and yet you may find yourself remembering its characters and their feminine wisdom for many summers to come.
“Life is full of change, honey. That’s how we learn and grow. When we’re born, the Good Lord gives each of us a Life Book. Chapter by chapter, we live and learn…When a chapter of your Life Book is complete, your spirit knows it’s time to turn the page so a new chapter can begin. Even when you’re scared or think you’re not ready, your spirit knows you are.“—Mrs. O’Dell
As we headed to the car, I looked up at her. “You sure do love saving old houses.”
“Oh, yes, I do. It’s my fire.”
She glanced over her shoulder at the house, which was now bathed in a warm tint of yellow from the sun. “Yes. Everyone needs to find the one thing that brings our her passion. It’s what we do and share with the world that matters.”—Aunt Tootie.
Before leaving the room, Oletta told me she loved me. Well, not the exact words I love you, but what she said was, “Ain’t no sun in the kitchen without your face lookin’ up at me.”–CeeCee
Aunt Tootie sat down next to me. “Cecelia Rose. People are, by nature, curious. And as you go through life, many people will ask questions about your past. And when they do, you just say the truth, plain and simple–your mother passed away and your father travels for his work, so you came to live with me. That’s all you ever have to say, honey. Everything will be just fine, as long as you make it fine. Now, there’s something I want you to think about. Something important. And I promise you, it will serve you well throughout your life. I’m going to tell you something that my mother said to me a long time ago.”
My aunt’s face was so serious I couldn’t imagine what she was going to say. She took hold of my hand and looked into my eyes. “It’s what we believe about ourselves that determines how others see us.”—Aunt Tootie
Oletta patted the bed, and when I sat down beside her, she took hold of my hand. “Take the gift Miz Tootie is givin’ you and hold it tight. Don’t go wastin’ all them bright tomorrows you ain’t even seen by hangin’ on to what happened yesterday. Let go, child. Just breathe out and let go.”—Oletta