“The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes” – Chapters 1 to 10*

16 Aug

I read quite a lot. It’s the one hobby I never neglect. By July, I’d read 25 books this year – everything from murder mysteries to quick beach reads. When I saw this blogging book club, I was instantly hooked. I’ve never been part of a book club before, mainly because I found either the company or the choice of book to be lacking. This could be most ideal.

The book this month is “The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes” by Diane Chamberlain. I ordered it for my Kindle and started in right away. Herein we hit issue number one: the book club is set up to complete ten to fifteen chapters each week. For better or worse, I simply have no pacing when it comes to reading. If I’m not devouring the book in a few days, it must be that the book is too boring and would be better off abandoned. So yeah, the * is to signify (SPOILER ALERT!) that I’ve already read the entire book and won’t attempt in any way to restrict my answers to only the chapters listed. In fact, I finished the book over a week ago, so just remembering the plot at this point might be a stretch.

So, for this week’s questions:

1. What was your first impression of Tim? I thought Tim seemed pretty smarmy when he first entered the picture. He’s 22 years old, and CeeCee is only 16, yet he wants to forgo college parties and 20-something life to hang out in a diner with a minor child? He seemed to exude all those “too good to be true” qualities, which failed to make him an attractive character, but clearly had their desired effect on our heroine. He had very little back story, so it was hard to love or believe Tim. This is something I struggled with throughout the book – the characters were underdeveloped, and it was difficult for me to establish any relationship or connection with them. The author failed to make any of them feel compelling to me, mainly because they lost touch with reality somewhere along their journey and never had a family or a history to pull them back into the story.

2. If you were in CeeCee’s position, would you be wiling to help your boyfriend in the way she’s willing to help Tim? CeeCee was so very naive throughout the beginning of the story, and although some will call her mature for her young years, I felt like she was rather stupid for allowing herself to be pulled into this with Tim. She never exhibited an ounce of street smarts in the opening of the book – and I couldn’t ever see myself in her shoes. I never had a high school boyfriend, but knowing my track record, I surely would’ve walked away early on with Tim, and wouldn’t have been willing to help. Probably of note: I’m a vicious rule-follower who grew up to become a lawyer. They’re becoming involved in an illegal act. Safe to say I wouldn’t have stepped up to help, no matter how much I loved the boy.

3. Why do you think CeeCee is so eager to please Tim? Dr. Phil hat safely on, I think CeeCee has abandonment issues stemming from her lack of a relationship with any father figure and her mother’s early and traumatic death. CeeCee is living on her own, working on her own and trying to piece together her future when Tim walks in. He’s caring and attentive. For any 16 year-old girl, regardless of history, attention from a boy is the desired goal. She’ll do whatever he needs to retain his attention and devotion, and he manipulates her easily. In the end, she makes a large-scale sacrifice in order to please Tim and secure his love.

4. Who do you think has it harder, Tim or CeeCee? CeeCee has it harder. She’s naive but sweet, and Tim is older and wiser. She’s an easy victim for his charms, and he knows exactly where he’s leading her as he starts their relationship. Tim has family, however distant, but his sister’s imprisonment has clearly taken a toll on him personally. While not ideal, Tim had the ability to make something of himself very easily. He’s a college student and appears to have money to spare. CeeCee will be working uphill for years to accomplish her dreams, and has no adult support to help guide her.

5. What character trait about CeeCee stuck out most to you in the first ten chapters? She’s so very naive. From beginning to end, I constantly wished that CeeCee was a smarter girl, and although she wises up in many ways, she never graduates from her wishy-washy mentality. She’s constantly surprised by the world around her, in a way that ties back to the early death of her mother. Although her mother writes beautiful letters to leave to her daughter, CeeCee never seems to absorb her advice, and constantly struggles to find herself over and over.

6. Do you think that CeeCee is as mature as she seems? Is this a trick question? I don’t think CeeCee is mature – and although she grows older through the book, she never grows a backbone. Mature teens wouldn’t get wrapped up in the false fantasy of CeeCee’s relationship with Tim. They certainly wouldn’t agree to serve as an accomplice. She may be living on her own and working to pay her bills at 16, but CeeCee is emotionally immature. This may be one of the reasons I never enjoyed this book for what it was – I kept waiting for CeeCee to really act in the way the author was trying to portray her. She never lived up to her own character.

What can I say? I’m a critic – but the underlying story behind all this was good, and was reason enough for me to pick up the book and finish it shortly thereafter. The book club concept is a great one, and although I didn’t love this book like I hoped, I’ll certainly continue to participate. I’d love to hear recommendations for another book to hold me over ’til September!


2 Responses to ““The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes” – Chapters 1 to 10*”

  1. Jasmine August 17, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    Fabulous. Are you on Goodreads? If so, find me there – I’ve got lots of books on my list. If you haven’t read Middlesex {J. Eugenides}, that’s a great read. It’s definitely a book that will make you squirm & scrunch your forehead in places, but he’s an amazing writer in my opinion. Happy reading!

  2. Lauren Kelly August 17, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I loved reading your answers. They were great. I too had no self-control and read the book in like two days, haha!!!

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