I should start out by saying this recent read isn’t all that recent. I picked it up as a light holiday read for the train ride home to Detroit…last year. Still, I think it’s totally worth sharing. Tis the season, again! It’s the perfect book to read while sitting next to a frosted train window or wrapped up in a blanket on a cold winter night sipping a hot drink.
Entertainment was expected, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was drawn in. Yes, it’s charming and reminiscent of a holiday rom com, but the writing is also witty and the characters are relatable and developed. Marie-Helene Bertino seamlessly weaves the characters’ stories together, as they all navigate Christmas Eve night in Philadelphia, ultimately ending up at the jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas. I found myself rooting for each character more and more with every page I turned.
Madeleine is a nine year old girl who misses her deceased mom, who passed along a love of jazz and a sweet swinging voice to her daughter before she passed away. Since her dad can’t seem to pull himself out of his own grief, Madeleine gets used to being all she has, which makes her a pretty formidable force for a little girl. When a boy gets her in trouble with the school principal she screams, “This is fucking bullshit!”…”This turd did that on purpose, are you blind?”
Madeleine’s teacher, Sarina Greene, is recently divorced and finds herself spending the holidays with people she knew in high school. As if she couldn’t feel more insecure about having to tell people about her failed marriage, she finds out a guy she loved back in the day will be there. It turns out that the awkward party is not the main event of her Christmas after all.
Lorca, the owner of The Cat’s Pajamas is struggling to keep the place going. His money is pretty much gone, and he’s considering selling his father’s priceless guitar that has been hanging in the jazz venue for years. He’s also having problems with his teenaged son Alex, who desperately wants the life of a professional musician and everything that comes along with it. For Alex, this sometimes entails doing drugs in the bathroom of his dad’s club. Dealing with Alex, fines from the city, and a girlfriend who’s leaving because he’s so wrapped up in The Cat’s Pajamas, Lorca needs to figure things out fast.
If you’re looking for a hopeful story to get lost in I’d recommend giving this book a shot. It gave me all the feels!
The next book I’ll be reading is The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler.