“We carry our ancestors in our names and sometimes we carry our ancestors through the sliding doors of emergency rooms and either way they are heavy, man, either way we can’t escape.”
“Her father is fastened to his room, with his records and his drugs and his quiet. She crawls under her covers. It is her fault for triggering one of his spells. Normally she can tightrope through his moods. At least it had been brief. Most girls do not have to deal with a father like hers. They would be afraid of the way she lives, lawless in a roachy apartment. They would be scared of his fits. Madeleine would be scared too, she thinks, falling asleep. If she had only experienced finished basements and dads who acted like dads. But Madeleine loves her father, and how can you be scared of someone you love?”
― Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas
I don’t know why I included the word “damned” in that caption. Maybe because convalescing is dull and I think profanity will jazz up the experience.
Anyway, speaking of profanity and jazz, here’s the blurb about this book from Amazon:
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.
I was a bit in love with Madeleine from the first page. And crazy about her by the last one. Sometimes the quirky prose in this novel reads like poetry. It’s a good story, written from several different perspectives, over a time span of just 19 hours. You’d be surprised at how much can happen to so many people in such a short time.
It’s a book made to be read in one sitting I think, and I might have done that if I hadn’t been so doped up on pain pills and falling asleep so much. Today I haven’t taken anything, so I guess I can’t blame my sketch on mind altering drugs. This is how my brain sees a bar in the middle of the night. What can I say.
I hope Marie-Helene Bertino writes another book soon. I’ll illustrate it for her if she asks. Huh. Maybe the drugs aren’t completely out of my system. But I’m very clear-headed when I say it’s the mark of a great author when she leaves you wanting more.
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