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Tonight I had a book club meeting. We talked about Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. Have you read it? I gave it two or three stars. I really couldn't decide...
There was a lot of hype about this book--it's making the book club rounds and it's very popular. I kind of thought to myself, Oh lordy, this will be another situation like The Help where I end up hating it and/or being offended.
I didn't end up hating it. I didn't love it. I think this is the author's first novel? Or at least I hope it is. Because the writing's...not great. The words "weak sauce" come to mind. There you go, I said it.
Okay, the author could develop the characters more. The author could make Savannah come to life more, practically make it a character itself. It's SAVANNAH. It's an amazing place. Give me more! The beginning shuffles along, we're doing fine, then bam, the author throws in some past incident between CeeCee and the neighbor (or maybe it's CeeCee and the mom) and it feels very "Oh damn, I need to develop more backstory, so let me just plop this riiiight in here, oh perfect." But it's not perfect. It feels very forced. And then the author just does this time and again. I cannot grow to love the neighbor with this sort of forced memory thing going on. I can't completely understand the mother and how CeeCee feels about her. I sure as hell can't hate the father like I think we're supposed to, and damn, that should have been pretty darn easy to do. What are you doing wrong, author?! This man abandoned his young daughter and his bipolar(? manic depressive? something) wife, took up with another woman, and then very quickly gave up rights to his daughter to some great-aunt that, really (1) seems to good to be true, and (2) should have kept in better touch with her niece. I should really not like this man, but I really just, meh, shrug my shoulders when CeeCee's all in pain about her interactions with him. I also have troubles hating the neighbor two doors down. Girlfriend cracked her head on a thrown-over-the-fence slug. Yeah, I actually feel more sympathy for her than annoyance, and the one throwing the slugs around? She's actually annoying. What else? I don't know. I can't keep complaining.
Now, I'm not completely dogging this book. Why? Because I could barely put it down. I sped through this book, and darn it, I wanted that sweet, plucky CeeCee Honeycutt to make it. I wanted her to find friends. I wanted her to live happily ever after. It was ridiculous. Half the time I didn't think the author was getting her voice right (she's 7 through 12 in the book, but sometimes when she's 12, she sounds like she's 5, other times, she sounds like she's 35. Figure it out!), but I still liked her! I felt like charging around, "Yes, please let's Save CeeCee Honeycutt!"
So, fine, read it because you might like it. I'm pretty sure everybody on the planet but me will like it, in fact. I might even kind of like it! Can't wait for others to get back to me with their opinions.
P.S. I just peeked at others' reviews on this book and felt like, sigh, this is exactly how I knew others would react. Others are talking about the colorful characters and how it's so great and Southern and they cried.