Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Review: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

Have you ever seen one of those news reports of a woman who has been arrested after living "underground" for 25 years?  You know the story, she was involved in some bank robbery or something when she was in college and elluded capture--and then they discover she's been living as a professor's wife in Connecticut for the past two decades living an exemplary life aiding the homeless and protecting battered women or some such thing.  Every wonder what happened and how she did that?  Well, apparently so did Diane Chamberlain. 

In her book The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes Chamberlain takes this premise and runs with it.  And boy does she run.  She takes the character of CeeCee and infuses her with so much compassion that you begin to see how something like this could actually happen. 

CeeCee is a sixteen year old girl who has bascially been raising herself since she was 12.  When she meets a college student named Tim Gleason she is quickly seduced by the thought of someone loving her and caring for her.  Sadly, Gleason's only real interest in her is for his own means, and when she finds herself going underground and on the run with a newborn infant that is suddenly thrust upon her she makes the most of a terrifying situation and turns her life around.

Years later when the past comes back to haunt her she has to make the decision of whether to let the past alone and the chips fall where they may, or to stand up and do the right thing but in so doing destroy the life and the family she has worked so hard to create.

All along as you read this book you ask yourself what you would have done.  It's hard for me to remember being 16; the way I thought and felt at that age.  But I do know I wasn't capable of dealing with a situation like CeeCee did.  It's a terrific book.  I believe Chamberlain put a lot of herself into the character of CeeCee, which makes her all the more believable. 

Most of Chamberlain's books deal with families and the situations that surround them.  This was the second book of her I've read, and I have to admit, I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

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