Friday, August 8, 2014

G397 Book Review of 2 A.M at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

Name of Book: 2 A.M at the Cat's Pajamas

Author: Marie-Helene Bertino

ISBN: 978-0-8041-4023-2

Publisher: Crown

Type of book: One day, reunification, jazz, singing, night club, Philadelphia, December 23rd-December 24th 7:00 AM, school, cuss words, smoking, small community, ambitions, talent, dancing

Year it was published: 2014


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.


There are a lot of characters in the book, some important and some not so much, which made it difficult for me to keep track of who's who. The main characters include Madeline who only desires to sing, Sarina who hopes that dinner with a former boyfriend will go well and Lorca, owner of Cat's Pajamas who struggles with trying to save the club plus saving the son and acknowledging son's gifts.Secondary characters include the woman who becomes a sort of mother to Madeline, then there's her father and the principal. People surrounding Lorca include his ex-girlfriends, his son and some musicians that play Cuban music as well as the cop that cited him for violating the laws. Around Sarina would be her former boyfriend and her friends plus her ex-husband.


Magic can happen in one day


The story is written in third person narrative from everyone's point of view.  The story spans one day, from 7:00 AM on December 23rd? up until 7:00 AM on December 24th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and eventually the climaxes for three stories come together at 2 AM at the Cat's Pajamas. I also think a character sheet might benefit the story. Also some parts didn't seem to be necessary to the story. I would also guess that its more story driven rather than character driven, but I feel both seemed at equal footing in terms of development.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

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image006About Marie-Helene Bertino

Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the story collection Safe as Houses, which won the 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Prize and The Pushcart Prize, and was long-listed for The Story Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. An Emerging Writer Fellow at New York’s Center for Fiction, she has spent six years as an editor and writing instructor at One Story.
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If possible, I'll rate this book 3.5 stars. I loved the writing, the original idea of a book spanning only one day as well as intriguing dialogue and very memorable characters in terms of some dogs plus  secondary characters and Lorca, which I liked. But unfortunately what pulled my enjoyment down are way too many characters to keep track of and it didn't help that the author shifted point of view from one character to another with no warning. One minute I'm reading Sarina's thoughts, then in the next paragraph her date Ben starts and at some points it moves on to other secondary characters that I can't recall. My favorite parts include the dogs. To see how its possible to stretch a book into only one day as well as clever and witty writing I would recommend for the book to be read, but for the way to work with multiple characters, I would look elsewhere.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Marie-Helene Bertino’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 4th:  Bibliotica
Wednesday, August 6th:  Must Read Faster
Thursday, August 7th:  My Bookshelf
Friday, August 8th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, August 11th:  Reading Reality
Tuesday, August 12th:  Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, August 13th:  From the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 14th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, August 15th:  From L.A. to LA
Monday, August 18th:  Caribousmom
Tuesday, August 19th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, August 20th:  Broken Teepee
Thursday, August 21st:  Guiltless Reading
Friday, August 22nd:  Walking With Nora
Monday, August 25th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, August 26th:  Literally Jen
Wednesday, August 27th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, August 28th:  BookNAround
Friday, August 29th:  Too Fond
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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