Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Club: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes (Chapters 21 - 35)

This week for the Book Beginnings and Bookends book club, we were assigned chapters 21 – 35.

This section of the book continues with CeeCee, who is now Eve, building her new life. Marian, the woman Eve is living with, somehow produces a high school transcript and SAT scores, allowing Eve to go to college to study Psychology. She also gets a job working at an adolescent halfway house.

Eve meets a guy named Jack, and they begin dating. Jack is so much different than Tim, he is responsible, compassionate and just an all around nice guy. They don't even have sex until they had been dating for around 4 months (unlike almost immediately with Tim). The only thing Eve is concerned about is that Jack likes to joke and have fun, and she is afraid he is not going to ever get serious. It doesn't concern her too much and he eventually proposes to her. This happens after Eve explains to Jack that she had an emotional conversation with Cory about Cory’s father (which Eve tells Cory he died in a motorcycle accident). Jack says he was looking for a romantic and dramatic way to do this, but couldn't wait any longer and was wondering if he could be Cory's father and Eve's husband.

Eve and Jack get married, Jack adopts Cory and they both graduate from college, with Eve continuing to work part time at the halfway house and Jack working as a high school drama teacher. They both eventually go back to graduate school and both land jobs at the college, Jack working in the Drama department and Eve working as a counselor in the Counseling and Psychological department.

A couple really big things happen in this section of the book. First, Cory is starting to have socialization issues at school. I am sure this is due to the fact that Eve is very careful about her, due to their past, which she cannot discuss with anyone. Jack decides it would be best if Cory had a little brother or sister. Eve is worried because everyone thinks that she has been pregnant before, and how is she going to explain this. Somehow she gets around it, and they have a little girl named Dru. This whole section got me so nervous she was going to be figured out, especially during the delivery, but it all just kind of worked out. In a way, it kind of built me up to thinking something dramatic was going to happen and I kept quickly reading to see what would happen, especially at each doctor’s visit. And then when Eve was in labor, the nurse mentioned it was her first pregnancy, and Eve looked at Jack and said “I guess they messed up my chart” and he totally believed it. Kind of a let down in a weird twisted way.

The second thing is that she finds out the real story behind why Tim's sister is in prison for murder. Tim told Eve (when she was CeeCee), that his sister was raped by a photographer who had been invited to their house to photograph their gardens and then killed him. This is how he justified his plan stating she was emotional, not in her right mind, and had been wronged by the photographer. But Eve found out that really she killed a woman photographer and her 13-year older daughter after breaking in and stealing $50,000 worth of jewelry to buy drugs. We also find out that his sister was eventually executed. After finding this out, Eve can finally move on and forget about Tim. Thank goodness!

The third thing is that Eve keeps getting anonymous packages in the mail with money in them and a note saying "For the baby." She is figuring this is probably from Tim, but can’t really be sure. In the beginning the packages contain a couple hundred dollars, and then eventually the amount of money starts getting larger. One day she received a package and Jack was the one to get the mail. He questioned it, and finally Eve had to tell him about it. She told Jack that she wasn’t sure who it was from, and that she had received these packages a couple times a year, ever since Cory was born. She said she figured they might be from Cory’s father’s family, but she couldn’t be sure. He totally believed her, which I figured he would question it even more, but he didn’t. Eve says she has been saving the money for Cory for her future, and they move on and never really discuss it again, which I thought to be a little strange.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you think Tim is the one sending the money?

I am assuming Tim is sending the money. The only other people who know about the baby is Naomi and Forrest, but I am not sure why they would feel obligated to send her money. If it is Tim, I am sure it is because he feels guilty for what he has done to not only CeeCee/Eve, but also the baby.

2. So far, there's been a lot of discussion on CeeCee/Eve and her choices. What choice(s) would you make differently from her?

I think she has made good choices in trying to get her life back in order. Getting a job, going to college, raising Cory the best she can. The only choice that I would have made that would have been different was to not get in that situation in the first place.

3. What do you like about Jack? Are there things about him that you don't like?

I really like Jack. I think he respects Eve and treats her right. I think he is a little naive and it shocks me he doesn't ask more questions about some of the strange things that happen, like where did she get all that money? It shocked me he wasn't more curious about that.

4. What are the differences between CeeCee/Eve's relationship with Tim and Eve's relationship with Jack?

I think they are both more responsible, and it's good they were taking it slow. I loved how Jack asked to be Cory's father first, and then Eve's husband. I thought it was so sweet that he put her little girl first. I didn't think he was going to get serious with her until that moment, and then I knew they would be together forever. I just feel sorry that he has no idea the lies that Eve is keeping from him.

5. Do you think Eve is to blame for Cory's fears? What could she do, specifically, to help Cory feel like less of an outsider?

I do think she has caused these fears with Cory. I keep waiting for Cory to remember something about that horrible night, but I am sure that is probably impossible, she was too young. I do think though that Eve is so worried that she will either lose Cory, or be found out, so she is doing everything possible to keep Cory hidden and safe. I think that having a sister did help some, but I think she needs to find ways to help her make friends. Maybe she should have hosted some sleepovers at Cory's house. Get her comfortable with these girls in her own home. I am excited to see how Cory does at Darby. It looks like maybe that is the best thing for her.

6. Do you think Eve appropriately answered Cory's questions about her father? Do you think Cory will question her father more as she grows older?

I think when she put a name to the guy, it opened a whole new can of worms. What if Cory tries to investigate this guy and finds out he is made up. Maybe not now, but when she gets older, she might try and get in touch with his family.


  1. I think Jack is just such a nice guy and believes Eve is being honest with him so that's why he doesn't ask a lot of follow-up questions. I find it ironic that Eve is treating Jack the way Tim treated CeeCee--lie, lie lie! Shame on her! Poor Jack didn't realize what he was getting into because Eve didn't tell him Cory wasn't really hers. I really like Dru and am glad Cory and her get along so well.

    This is a great book that shows how our choices affect our lives and how lies not only haunt the person doing the lying, but also impact the lives of others negatively.

  2. I'm so glad you thought it was strange how Jack did not question Eve more about the envelopes of money that would mysteriously appear in their mailbox. I thought, "good grief, man! you can not think this is normal!!!" It's almost like Chamberlain does not want to thicken the plot anymore by addressing these oddities -- the money, the pregnancy/labor & delivery comment from the nurse. Loved reading your responses!

  3. I was surprised she made up a name also. Once the lies start, it will never stop.

  4. Ooooh, these discussion questions are helpful! I'd never heard of this book before, but it sounds interesting!

  5. Oooo! I hadn't even considered Naomi/Forrest to be the ones sending her money. I like that!

  6. I think Cory will be more suspicious of her family as she gets older also. Eve just keeps digging holes for herself with the lies. I think she's going to have to come clean to someone in her family really soon.