Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt

Book: Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman

Members present: Christy, Sarah, Annette, Marie, Karin, Linda, Lorelei, Sharon

Venue: Karin's awesome house at the lake! Best venue in the history of book club.

Discussion highlights:

While the book was, as intended, a much lighter choice after reading A Little Life, many of us thought it was a little too light and didn't warrant much discussion. However, Marie really liked it because she likes happy books, and Annette liked it because it was set in Savannah and it reminded her of all the places she saw when she ran a race down there. Annette also liked the discussion of the restoration of the mansions, many of the ancillary female characters, and the story line about the neighbor and her illicit affair with the police officer. Someone liked the relationship between Cee Cee and Oletta. I liked the adventures of the traveling bra. We compared this book to other books in this genre that we've read in book club--Secret Life of Bees, The Help--and agreed that the treatment of racial issues was more superficially addressed in Saving Cee Cee. We discussed why men play a minor role in this genre but I can't remember if we concluded anything.

Marie also brought up how many families probably had an undiagnosed mentally ill parent. We compared Cee Cee's mom to the mom in Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, which was darker and more complex in its description of what mental illness looks like in a parent. I brought up that meds had only come out in the 50's and were only for the most severe cases, and the only treatment was institutionalization. Whereas now, even with something like autism, people can have a diagnosis but be much higher functioning. So in many of these books, parents were bipolar, alcoholic, etc. but no one knew what to do with them and there was no help available, so they just ended up traumatizing their kids (e.g., Tender at the Bone, Glass Castles). However, Sarah pointed out that Cee Cee was unrealistically well-adjusted, considering that her mom had just committed suicide by walking in front of an ice cream truck, she was abandoned by her dad and forced to move to the South to with a great aunt who she didn't know, and she wasn't even allowed to bring her books! She did have a minor breakdown while picking peaches, but I probably have a breakdown like that whenever I don't have tennis scheduled. But perhaps that says more about my own mental stability!

I'm not exactly sure how this came up, but we also talked about how expensive it is to be present at a Ted Talk, and Sarah gave an interesting review of a Ted Talk on how well children lie: neither parents nor observers were able to discern whether or not children were lying when they said they did not eat a cookie. So beware when a teacher says your child or grandchild did something they shouldn't have and s/he denies it!

Marie discussed how she learned to lie because in Catholic School a nun left the room and when she came back she asked if anyone talked while she was gone and Marie raised her hand and she got hit with a ruler. Lorelei agreed that nuns in Catholic school were mean and shared an anecdote of how her husband engaged in antisocial behavior in order to punish the nuns at his school. Sharon also went to Catholic School and agreed that it was terrible. We also talked about how unnatural it is to be a nun, priest, monk, etc. because many of these books highlight inappropriate sexual behavior that resulted from people in these vocations (e.g., A Little Life).

Linda brought up my conversation with her about my inner infant, and I explained the role of parental attunement in helping a child learn how to label and experience their emotions, which leads to healthy ways of regulating affect, like expressing emotions, versus things like drugs, alcohol, internet, gambling, etc. I have written several blog posts about this, and if you're interested, you can check them out at



Wow! That was actually a lot of deep conversation!

But in all honestly, mostly we ate, talked, and played in the pool. So far, Karin wins the prize for Best Book Club Meeting of the Year.

Next book:

Our next book will be For the Rest of Her Life, by Laura Moriarty, and I will be the host. It is about a teenage girl who accidentally kills another girl from her school while driving. The book is told from the mom's perspective and primarily focuses on the strained relationship she has with her daughter. I have read it and thought it was great. I think it will be interesting to compare it to Defending Jacob because it parallels that book in many ways. I also thought it was interesting that each book demonstrates how males and females cope differently with trauma. So this one may push us out of the remedial category, but we're doing pretty good with our discussions, so I think we're ready!

As a preview of what's ahead, Shea has volunteered to do the last book club meeting of the year and has chosen Queen of the Court, by Melanie Howard. I think it's written by someone locally because it references places like River's Edge. It's along the lines of Skinny Dip and is about a murder that takes place among country club tennis players.  That will take us to my goal of 6 books this year, and if we have our next meeting in September and the following meeting in November, if we're feeling really ambitious we can decide to have an end of the year holiday book party in December, and people can bring books they want to give away.

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