Saving CeeCee Honeycut, Chapters 1-5
As our Spring Book Club reading opens, we meet CeeCee, a young girl forced to be caretaker and overseer to her mentally ill mother. It is easy to instantly like CeeCee; while possessing the innocence of a child, much of her life is spent performing very adult tasks; the blend of naivety and wisdom that results in an undeniable appeal. CeeCee herself sees that her life circumstances have a positive side: “…in a strange, upside down way, Momma’s craziness helped me learn more and rise to the top of my class.” Camille, too, is easy to like, despite her inability to care for CeeCee. Although deeply flawed, Camille still has the charm and gentility of a southern belle gone slightly askew.
Less easy to feel fondness for is CeeCee’s absentee father, who, despite warnings from his daughter and neighbor about the state of Camille’s health, chooses to look away. While not an uncommon reaction to mental illness, CeeCee’s father becomes so detached that he is completely unaware of his daughter’s love of books, reading and her academic achievements. This fact seems to hurt CeeCee even more than the countless escapades involving her mother’s bizarre behavior, as she develops a deep hatred for her father.
Salvation for CeeCee comes after her mother’s death, when she is taken in by her Aunt Tootie, a well-mannered and kind southern woman who resides in the heart of Savannah, Georgia. While deeply moved by Aunt Tootie’s kindness and genuine warmth, CeeCee remains apprehensive about the move until Mrs. Odell offers this wisdom: “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.” It is this truth that CeeCee clings to as she takes the leap into a life she could have never before imagined.
I look forward to reading your insights on these first few chapters. Here are a few conversation starters:
- How would CeeCee’s life be different if Mrs. Odell had chosen to avoid Camille’s mental illness, and therefore any interaction with CeeCee?
- Were you able to feel any compassion or understanding for CeeCee’s father? Do you think CeeCee should forgive her father?
- By CeeCee’s account, her home surroundings reflected the disorder and messiness of Camille’s state of mind; however Camille’s prom dresses were neatly arranged by color, “like a worn-out tattered rainbow.” Why could Camille order and arrange dresses but nothing else?
Director of Guest Experience Programming
Glen Ivy Hot Springs