Length: 272 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours / NetGalley
From the publisher:
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 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.
Here’s what I thought:
The world of 2. A.M. at The Cat’s Pyjamas in populated by a host of interesting, quirky characters whose actions and interactions over the course of one evening make up the storyline for this fresh new novel. The main characters–Madeleine, Sarina, and Lorca–are memorable enough, but the many minor characters, while well-drawn, start to blur together by their sheer numbers. I found myself getting confused at several points while reading as I tried to keep them all straight.
Bertino’s writing zips along, and as such the novel is a quick read. I enjoyed the story overall, as it reminded me of the work of Maria Semple, one of my favorite writers. Unlike Semple’s writing, though, I felt that this book was lacking in emotional depth. The character of Madeleine, in particular, was so cynical and cold as to be unbelievable. As the mother of two daughters, I have never encountered a nine-year-old who acted remotely like her.
I would recommend this book to readers looking for a snappy, original read, but not to those looking for a more meaningful reading experience.
About the author:
Marie-Helene Bertino’s debut novel 2 AM AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS will be published by Crown in August, 2014. Her collection of short stories SAFE AS HOUSES received The 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Award and the Pushcart Prize and was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award and The Story Prize. She hails from Philadelphia and lives in Brooklyn. She was an Emerging Writer Fellow at NYC’s Center for Fiction and teaches at NYU, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, The Center for Fiction, and One Story’s Emerging Writer’s Workshop, where she was the Associate Editor for 6 years. She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Hedgebrook and currently works as a biographer of people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
For more information, visit: www.mariehelenebertino.com
Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.