Madeline is the center of this wonderful little jewel, 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas. It's the Eve of Christmas Eve in Philadelphia, and Madeline is heading to school. She attends a catholic school, and before class, they have to go to church. Claire, the prissy perfect girl in Madeline's class, is going to be singing a solo hymn in church.
Until she gets hits by a bicyclist on her way to school. Oops. Cue Madeline. Her teacher, the wonderfully smart and sassy Sarina Greene, suggests Madeline sing in Claire's place. It's a dream come true. Madeline stands up front, opens her mouth, and just as her glorious singing is about to begin, Claire bursts through the church doors: "I can sing! I am here!"
And so begins Madeline's lousy Eve of Christmas Eve. Her birthday is on Christmas Day, but her mother is dead, and her father sits in his bedroom, paralyzed by grief and listening to old jazz records. Madeline is on her own. The Cat's Pajamas is a jazz club in the neighborhood, and it is in trouble. Citations mean if they're not paid, the club closes. It's the last chance for Lorca to have a great time and maybe, just maybe pay the citations and keep his legendary club open. But he's got problems of his own...
There are so many wonderful, quirky characters in this novel it's hard not to talk about them all. You'll just have to discover them as you read. I can assure you there are lines where you will laugh out loud. Did I mention that Madeline has a mouth like a sailor? Yes she does.
This novel is about people all standing at a crossroads and deciding where and what to do. Which path to take. Do they put the past behind, and move forward?
Anyone who read Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple will find themselves enjoying this tale of jazz, Christmas, and a little girl's dream.
Rating: 8/10 for a fantastic main character and a story that left me reluctant to turn the last page.
Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio.