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The written word has always been a joy for me.  I can not remember a time in my life when I did not have books. Before I was able to read them, my mother read books to me. As soon as I could read independently I was never without a book in my hands or very nearby.  As years passed, writing developed into a passion for me as well. I tried novel writing while home with my two children during their early years and was challenged to focus on the craft.  I never gave up the love even when I had to give up the pursuit.  Now, with grown children and the fact I am sitting on the other side of fifty I can pursue my dream of writing.  I have continued the reading quest but now the writing is attainable as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

2 am at The Cat's Pajamas

            2 am at The Cat’s Pajamas, written by Marie-Helene Bertino, tells the story of a couple of nights around Christmas Eve and the journey that the participants share together.  Some share forms of grief, others commitment, but together they find completion.  
            Madeline Altimari is a 9 year old girl who is grieving the loss of her mother, and because of her loss she is singing jazz as her mother did, smoking, caring for her grieving introverted father, and rebelling against the school’s forces that continually hold her back.  Madeline’s mother left her a “recipe” box of “life’s instructions” to see her through after the cancer removed her from Madeline’s life.  The box gives wonderful instructions to Madeline like, “know yourself,” which is helpful, but doesn’t replace the mother that Madeline needs.
            All Madeline truly wants to do is sing, just as her mother had while she was alive.
            Lorca is a jazz club owner that runs the iconic establishment, “The Cat’s Pajamas.”  He finds that he owes 30,000 in fines and unless he is able to find the money to pay these, his club will close. Lorca’s son, Alex is a talented young guitarist whose life will be changed once the club closes and he doesn’t have any place to play. 
            Mrs. Santiago, a diner owner and friend of Madeline’s mother, promises Madeline’s mother that she will watch over Madeline. She does this through food and warm advice, and as well as a motherly touch of discipline when needed.
            Sarina Greene is Madeline’s teacher that understands Madeline’s grief and loss, having recently gone through a divorce.  She also understands Madeline’s dreams, as she hopes to reconnect with a high school crush, Ben.
            Finally, there is Pedro, Mrs. Santiago’s dog.  He has wanderlust, always looking for a meal outside of his dog bowl, as he scouts about the city of Philadelphia.
            This listing of characters basically makes up the plot of the book, as the reader jumps from one character to the next and sees their lives each separately and finally together at 2am at the jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas.
            2 am at The Cat’s Pajamas is not the easiest book to follow. The premise is good, the characters are interesting, but the end result is a hop and skit between many various characters.  Bertino writes an interesting story about a young women trying to find herself and survive following the loss of her mother; yet, she covers so many characters’ journeys within the same night that this reader ended up feeling disjointed.  While cheering for Madeline to get her opportunity to sing at last was a good climax for the story, the other story events were just a bit flat.

            I would recommend the book to others as a light read, and although I can’t say it was a favorite for me, it was enjoyable.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review