CeeCee (Cecelia Honeycutt) spends the first 12 years of her life in the shadow of an emotionally disturbed mother. Her existence is not easy as she is ostracized by neighbors, made fun of by classmates, pretty much forsaken by her dad who seems too weak to deal with her mom’s sickness, and almost friendless except for a wonderful, elderly neighbor who offers her comfort and support. At an early age she learns how to deal with the erratic behavior and moods of her mom. It is difficult for her to deal with her humiliating antics and she is often embarrassed and resentful. The novel explores CeeCee’s attempts to survive in the face of awful circumstances.
After her mom is wrenched from her life in a horrible accident, she is rescued by her great aunt Tootie and taken to Savannah to live with her in a beautiful family home. The theme from here on in becomes Cinderella-like. She is embraced by Tootie’s friends and associates, and slowly her life begins to change for the better. A whole new world opens up for her: there are eccentric neighbors, encounters with the ugliness of racism, incidents of real fear for her own safety, the sadness of losing loved ones and friends, and the joys of making new friends and learning to care for others. She has to learn how to deal with all of the new challenges that come her way and also with all the wonderful opportunities. Although the author deals with the many issues raised in the novel very realistically, the way in which she resolved them did not seem credible. Everything just seemed to work out too conveniently and at just the right time.
The tenderest moments in the book came for me in those experiences shared by Oletta Jones and CeeCee. Oletta is the woman who runs Tootie’s household. The relationship between CeeCee and Oletta is reminiscent of the characters, Lavinia and Belle, in The Kitchen House. It was a beautiful, warm relationship based on genuine love and respect for each other and offered many pleasant moments of contemplation, in the narrative.