And happy hump day! To celebrate only two-ish more days until the weekend graces our presence, I have another book review for you.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for free in exchange for an honest review and honest I will be.
2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino is set in one day—Philadelphia on Christmas Eve—and follows several different characters, including Madeleine, a nine-year-old aspiring jazz singer who recently lost her mother to cancer; Madeleine’s teacher Sarina; The Cat’s Pajamas club owner Lorca and his son Alex, and several others. Madeleine and Sarina are the most engaging by far, and Madeleine’s feisty independence (she could give Johnny Depp a run for his money for her mouth-of-a-sailor antics) made her a fun character to get to know and spend time with. As the book gradually winds all the characters closer and closer together, they all benefit, becoming more important and interesting to the reader. The intertwining and sprawling of the characters coupled with the fact that it took place on Christmas Eve kind of reminded a bit of Love Actually, actually. Unfortunately, I feel like the massive cast works better on film, where you can put a face with a name.
It’s kind of a strange book to describe—the story itself is very literal at first, but it becomes fantastical, almost fairy tale-like at unexpected times. This to me felt a little off-putting while I was reading it however now, 12 hours after having finished the book, I think the fantastical elements were a good idea. The entire book feels a little magical, so what’s one more magical thing among the rest?
If you’re looking for a new book club read, this would be a fun option. (It’s short and fast enough to not be a burden to club members who drag their toes.) It has plenty to talk about in terms of plot and characterization and there are a few passages in the book that are really, really, delightful and worth marking to come back later and dissect.
The best way that I can describe this book is to tell you how I felt after reading it. Did you ever have a childhood movie or book that you would watch or read often? For me, that list was and is very, very, VERY long, ranging in everything from books like A Wrinkle in Time and Harry Potter (naturally) to movies like Field of Dreams and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I literally watched everyone’s favorite crime-fighting and pizza loving amphibians so much that I wore out all three of my VHS tapes. Speaking of TMNT, I may or may not be a going to see the new live-action movie which hits theaters this Friday. And I may or may not be way too excited to see it. And I may or may not be embarrassed to admit that, seeing as I am a 27-year-old woman.
We went/go back to these books and movies over and over again because of the way they made us feel afterwards, leaving us with a warming in our hearts and stomachs, making us believe and feel like everything in the world could be as fun and magical as what we just saw or read. After turning the last page of 2 A.M at the Cat’s Pajamas, I recognized that happy, contented feeling as one I’d had before: It was like the childishly optimistic, happy afterglow that would stick around after a favorite movie or book.
I didn’t think 2 A.M was the perfect book; it was kind of hard to get in to at first, the back and forth between characters was confusing at times, and I wish that the concept of how whenever Madeleine would sing, strange and peculiar things would happen would have been explored a bit more.
That being said, however, this book did make me smile.
And that counts for a lot.
On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I would give this book a solid 3.5.
I guess you could say that this book was, indeed, the cat’s pajamas 😉