The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes

It’s time to discuss March’s Book Club selection: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes!

You may also find other PBF book reviews and discussions on my Books page if you’re in the market for some new reading material. Happy reading!

Brief Summary

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes begins by following CeeCee Wilkes, a young girl who longs to feel love again, following the death of her mother at a young age.

secret life of ceecee wilkes

Though only 16-years-old, CeeCee is already very much an adult in her lifestyle, but still very much a child mentally. She works hard as a waitress and has a roommate, but is quite impressionable and falls very hard and very fast for Tim, a college boy who frequents her restaurant. CeeCee’s relationship with Tim escalates quickly and she trusts him completely and will do anything for him.

Tim convinces CeeCee to take part in a kidnapping that he says will help save his sister who is on death row. The kidnapping changes her life forever, forcing her to assume a new identity and leave everything she knows.

My Review (Includes spoilers!)

I liked this book for the most part but I found myself feeling quite frustrated on more the one occasion. Frustrated with CeeCee’s naivety and co-dependency. Frustrated with her decision to keep a child that wasn’t hers. Frustrated with “her child,” Cory, when she grew up.

I suppose that means I was invested in the book!

I can understand being 16, immature and making some poor decisions, but I felt like a lot of CeeCee’s decisions were a little too immature for someone who is 16 – someone who should understand right from wrong.

Once CeeCee assumes her new identity as Eve, I enjoyed reading about the love she felt for Cory and her experiences trying to be a good mother while struggling with the issues of her past and her guilt. I was happy when she got married to a man who seemed sensitive and supportive and really liked the way the author portrayed her husband’s reaction to the whole kidnapping incident when Eve finally came clean. He was rightfully hurt and angry, but I’m glad he stood by her in the end.

One thing that angered me was Cory and the way she seemed to turn her back on her family. I feel like the author perhaps didn’t do a good enough job of making me, as a reader, understand exactly what Eve did to push her away. Yes, I get that she was smothering and overprotective,  but I don’t think that was conveyed in an extreme way that made me understand why Cory was all of the sudden so brash and hurtful to her family.

While parts of the book frustrated me, I definitely enjoyed reading this book and am glad I did!

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Discussion Questions

  1. Do you find it believable that CeeCee would go along with Tim’s kidnapping plans? Why or why not?
  2. What do you think of Eve’s mothering abilities? Do you think she pushed Cory away?
  3. How do you think Cory handled the news about the events surrounding her birth?


  1. says

    I had so much fun participating in this month’s book club! Can’t wait for the next one. I totally agree with you about feeling particularly frustrated with Cory. I was getting very annoyed with how much Cory blamed Eve for her own issues because of Eve’s “smothering” tendencies. I think it was very difficult to understand Cory’s abrupt transition from being glued to her mother’s hip to basically excommunicating herself from her family. Great review!


  2. says

    1. I do believe she would go along with his kidnapping plans. She was young, insecure, and in love – a combination that would cause her to do almost anything if he asked.
    2. I thought Eve was a good mother. I don’t think she pushed her away and I agree with you about the disconnect as to why Cory felt the way she did. It all started when she starting dating her boyfriend. They cycle continued…she was young, insecure, and in love…
    3. I think Cory’s true colors came out when she found out the truth and wanted to protect Eve.


  3. says

    Thanks for another link up and including me! 🙂

    Hoonestly, I don’t find it too hard to believe that she would go along with it. I mean, she is extremely naive (at least I perceived her this way) and very much in love…

    I think Cory’s reaction was expected. I mean, her entire life was turned upside down, however, Eve is the only mother she knew and she did feel the need to protect her.


  4. says

    I really enjoyed the book overall. It’s not the type of book I usually read, but it was a page turner and definitely kept me interested!

    1. I found it believable that she would go along with the kidnapping plans. I think she really thought she was helping right a wrong and that the plan would be successful without hurting anyone. The fact that she was so scared about the whole thing made it pretty believable too.

    2. I agree with you that the author didn’t do a great job about showing why Cory suddenly hated her family. Towards the end of the book, you get a better sense that it was all Ken’s doing, but that isn’t made as clear in the beginning. I don’t think she pushed Cory away at all. I think she did her best to let go and let her live her life even though she missed her like crazy.

    3. I think she handled it fairly well. Clearly, it was a surprise and her first reaction would be to be angry with her mother. Once she found out the whole story and remembered her mother really loved her etc., she came to her senses. I think it was really brave of her character to confront her birth father about the situation as she did.

    Can’t wait to find out the next book!


  5. Brianne says

    I was upset as well about Cory’s adult character. That was also before she knew the real story behind her birth. I did like how she had a change of heart and testified on her mothers behalf. Then ending was a little interesting and I didn’t expect it to be over but Im not sure what I honestly expected after the rest of the book. All i know is i could NOT put it down!! I am excited for April’s book!!


  6. Jessica says

    I was completely wrapped up in this book and couldn’t put it down.

    1. I found myself fuming with anger as more was revealed to CeCe about the real story regarding Tim’s sister. I couldn’t image how overwhelmed and hurt she was when she learned the truth and about his actual girlfriend.

    2. Although I understand how difficult and confused CeCe was while she was driving to start her new life, I couldn’t believe she didn’t make more of an effort to give the baby back to her actual family.

    3. Overall, I really enjoyed her adult character and especially loved the woman she lived with and helped raise her daughter.

    4. I couldn’t help but think to myself as I was reading this, “I wonder if I know anyone who is living underground.” haha.

    Great book overall, I really enjoyed reading! 🙂


  7. says

    Thanks for including my review! I definitely agree with much of your opinion. I read in an Amazon review that its difficult for an author to make you frustrated with a character so I guess Chamberlain did a good job!

    – The kidnapping part was a little strange for me to believe she’d go along with, too. Certain aspects were just not well thought out at all. Then again, CeeCee really had no one else to stop her.
    – I’m not sure it was that Cory was pushed away so much as that she continuously felt like the black sheep of the family. I think usually when someone feels like the odd ball, they tend to try to find people more “like them.” I do think her actions were quite extreme.

    Can’t wait for the next reads!


  8. Katelyn says

    Loved the book! Finished it in two days because I couldn’t put it down. While I think she shouldn’t have taken a baby who wasn’t hers- she felt she had no choice. I don’t think it was preferred for her either because having a baby changed her life completely. I felt it was wonderful how she took the baby in as her own and gave her a wonderful life. I was so happy with the love story she had with Tim and was so sad when we found out how big of a jerk he was. Then when she found her husband, it was wonderful again. Everybody loves a good love story and this was just that with some twists in there as well!


  9. Katie says

    I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. It definitely kept me entertained and I found the ending to be more satisfying than I originally thought it was going to be. I feel like what really pushed her away was her boyfriend. When women are inexperienced and in relationships, especially if the women are co-dependent, they are more easily brain washed.


  10. says

    Just saw Katie from Peace Love & Oats blog about your book club, I wanna join next month!!! 🙂 ha I am currently finishing The Hunger Games and just saw your review on that! I love it! I have a hard time putting it down as well, I am so close to being done!


  11. says

    thanks for including me. as for your questions:

    1) i was willing to buy into ceecee’s decision…it fell within the realm of possibility that i’m willing to grant a work of fiction. ceecee was clearly desperate for love and very “young” emotionally despite being on her own at 16

    2) i think eve was imperfect but very real as a mother. i could not, however, buy into cory’s complete rejection of her mother. eve was certainly overprotective but she wasn’t abusive. unlike ceecee’s 16 year-old decision, i just could not buy into cory’s phobias, her total submission to her BF, or much of anything in her adult actions

    3) cory’s reaction was probably the most believable thing about her character but somehow felt less meaningful given the rest of their relationship…


  12. says

    I definitely enjoyed this book-but I had similar responses. I didn’t understand how CeeCee could rationalize keeping Cory-but I think that her life experiences and immaturity kept her from making the right choice when she was so young. I was also surprised by the sudden estrangement between Eve and Cory-I agree that the author could have provided more insight into this, but maybe the ‘suddenness’ was caused by the timeline of the book (years would pass between chapters)? I am looking forward to reading other books by this author.

    I am loving this book club/chat-I never have to worry about having a great book to read!


  13. says

    I loved this book and believed it was written fairly well. I do agreee about CeCe though being a bit TOOO immature for her age. Tim must have been very conniving though, and I think that the author did a really good job of portraying how she got pulled into a situation such as that so easily. As for Cory she didn’t piss me off as much as her boy-friend did. talk about JERK!


  14. says

    I’m so glad my library availability finally coincided w/ this book club!! 🙂

    I think it was believable that CeeCee would go along with Tim’s kidnapping plans being that she was abandoned (even tho it was unavoidable) and tossed around early in her life. When she finally found Tim she’d do anything for him- even this crime.

    I thought Eve was a great mother and I really thought there was a disconnect w/ Cory’s fears. Yes, Eve may of been over protective, but lots of young or first time mothers are and yet people are still able to take elevators and drive on the highway. Why would Eve be over protective about elevators? I didn’t quite understand the severity of Cory’s fears.

    I think Cory handled the news quite well. I was surprised at how she turned her back on her family over nothing (a controlling boyfriend perhaps) but then learns about this terrible deceit her mother did and then comes back to the family.

    Overall i enjoyed the story. I thought it was an easy, quick and entertaining read but some of the behavior of the characters could’ve used some extra explanation.


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