"Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. 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 Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue 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 bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, 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. "
In this heartwarming Southern tale, CeeCee Honeycutt searches for a safe-haven from her troubled life with an absentee father and mentally-ill mother. When CeeCee's mother is killed, her father sends her to live with her mother's Aunt Tootie in Savannah. There she finds love and acceptance even as she faces racism, violence, and a series of crazy neighbors.
Though the story is fairly predictable and cliches of Southern literature abound, this book is still an enjoyable read. CeeCee is a well-fleshed character, one whose reactions and dialogue ring true. Aunt Tootie and her cook Oletta are also well-written and help ground the story. Even though there is little narrative tension and everyone is ready to live happily-ever-after by the last page, there are some elements of the novel that hint at bigger and better offerings from Beth Hoffman in the future.
This book makes for a light and pleasant read; 3.5 stars.