The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  522

RAC:  Yes

CeeCee Wilkes is a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother died when she was twelve.  Now she is a high school graduate and living on her own trying to support herself as a waitress.  She hopes to save enough money to go to college one day.  Her favorite regular customer, Timothy Gleason, is rich and handsome, so she is thrilled when he shows some interest in her.  Soon they are dating and she feels she is in love with him and finally has a place to belong.  When he tells her his sister is on death row for a murder that was self defense, CeeCee finds herself helping in a scheme to get her freed.  Timothy and his brother plan to kidnap the governor’s wife in order to get him to release their sister.  Meanwhile, CeeCee is supposed to watch the hostage while the negotiations go down.  What CeeCee doesn’t count on is the fact that the governor’s wife is 8 months pregnant with a high risk pregnancy.  When the stress of the situation leads her to go into labor early, CeeCee does not know what to do or where to go and the situaiton quickly escalates out of control.  Once the baby is born, CeeCee is unable to stop the bleeding and the woman dies.   CeeCee knows that her life will never be the same again and she has some very difficult decisions to make.  Will she ever see Timothy again?  Will she have to change her name?  Will she have to go to jail for her role in this crime?  What will happen to the baby?

For readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, or similar authors this would be a good story.  It delves into the emotions and motivations of the characters while following an interesting story.  Readers will come to care about what happens to CeeCee and the baby despite the terrible circumstances that bring them together.  The ideas of taking responsibility for one’s actions and second chances are pronounced throughout the story.  The plot will keep readers thinking about justice long after finishing the book.

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