I might not be dancing, I might just be walking by with pep.
2 A.M at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino begins on the morning of Christmas Eve Eve and everyone’s day is beginning on a sour note. There’s the fifth grader, Maddie, who wants nothing more than to sing, but is banned from doing so at school for mysterious reasons. Then there’s Sarina, Maddie’s teacher, who has just moved back to her hometown after a divorce and feels like an utter failure. There’s also a chapter devoted to Pedro the dog who is running around town, searching for the she-dog whose scent has left him head over heels in love. And those are just a few of the entertaining characters we are introduced to in this book and whose days will end wildly different from how they started.
Stalled in the doorway, Lorca experiences a stomachache he can only call Christmas.
I fell in love with this book on the first page with Maddie practicing her shimmy in the mirror for exactly 30 seconds and then grading herself with a C-. From there it only got better, managing to balance humor with seriousness. Each chapter is arranged chronologically by time on Christmas Eve Eve, starting at 7 A.M and ending at 7 A.M the next day. The chapters are just short little snippets of what is happening in a given character’s life at that moment. They’re such brief glimpses that it never gets boring, but leaves you wanting more and wondering what will happen next. In a good way! I also enjoyed that the author obscured the era in which the story was taking place. The soundtrack of the book consisted of oldies. One character (not a drug dealer) still used payphones to make calls. And then there was a lot of outdated language, like the use of the words ‘co-ed’ and ‘billfold’. But then there was an appearance of a cellphone once or twice playing Wonderwall that brought you back to the present. And there was even a little magical element thrown in there, which I am always a fan of.
So, if you can’t tell, I give this book two thumbs up!
She could have answered “garbage” when they pointed to her mother’s swollen belly and asked what she thought was in there. But did she say garbage, or a stocking of poop or a lizard?