2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

2-am-at-the-cats-pajamas“A sparkling, enchanting and staggeringly original debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters.

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving debut, 2 AM AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS will capture your heart and have you laughing out loud.” – Goodreads

It is widely known among those around me that I’m a sucker for a book with a good title. When I saw a novel titled 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino {August, 2014}, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. Although that ASAP turned into a 5-month delay, the wait was worth every minute – Bertino did not disappoint with her delightful and moving literary debut.

The story, set on Christmas Eve Eve, shines its spotlight on three main characters. Madeleine Altimari is two days away from her tenth birthday. She is still reeling from the death of her mother just a year before. Madeleine’s two main hobbies: smoking menthols from the carton her mother left behind, and singing jazz. Madeleine’s teacher, Sarina Greene, is newly divorced and has just moved back to Philadelphia; she is anxiously anticipating an evening dinner with friends from her past. Jack Lorca is the lonely-yet-never-alone owner of the legendary jazz club, The Cat’s Pajamas, which is in danger of being closed down due to code violations. We follow the paths of these three lost souls on the snow-topped streets of Philadelphia as they search for love, music and hope until their paths converge – not surprisingly – at 2:00 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas.

Bertino’s urban fairy tale is a vivid one, funny and lively with characters the reader warms to quickly, all the way from Madeleine Altimari down to Pedro the wandering dog. While not all subjects are happy, the overall mood of the novel is one of upbeat hope and even humor, giving readers that sense of feel-good merriment that will lead to a quick and easy read. One note on the final chapter: this final moment of the novel is a very surreal addition that seems incongruent to the overall story, however when read in context with the fairy tale nature of the novel, fits more than one would suspect. In whole, this was a most charming and endearing read and left me feeling joyful and refreshed after a day’s worth of reading. Go and get you some, y’all!

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino: Read it today!

4 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries

 

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