The BUZZ: A debut novel that became a New York Times bestseller twelve days after it was published in 2010.
The GIST: This distinctly Southern novel tells the story of CeeCee Honeycutt, a young girl whose mother has struggled with mental illness and has recently died in a tragic accident. CeeCee has carried a heavy load all these years, taking care of her increasingly troubled mother alone, all the while torn between loving her and despising her. When her absent father is unable to care for his devastated daughter, great-aunt Tootie Caldwell swoops in to take CeeCee under her wing. CeeCee must leave everything she knows behind to start a new life in Savannah with people she has never met. In this world of compassionate women determined to bring her back to herself, she slowly begins to heal.
The WRITING: Straightforward and charming. Hoffman tells her tale with an underlying passion for noble values like love and honor and kindness, yet she’s not heavy handed with them. Her characters express their wisdom through their actions, and, occasionally, as poignant and hilarious teachable moments for the grieving twelve-year-old in their charge. Reading this novel feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold night: safely cocooned, you won’t be venturing far, but you’ll escape all the same.
BUY or BORROW?: Borrow. This book sat neglected on my to-be-read list for a long time. The description sounded fluffy to me – too simple and sweet to hold my attention. I was wrong, though. This was exactly the page-turner I needed just now, and it restored my faith in books about good things happening to good people. It is light, yes, but it has a certain power to it, too. If you loved The Little Princess as a child, you’ll love this grown up reincarnation of that rags-to-riches tale.
The truth fell on me like a piano. Though I had no idea what lay ahead, there was one thing I knew for sure: wherever I was going, it had to be better than where I was.